You live in Colorado! Enjoy every moment and heed these five ways to feel more content about your life.
Fall turning to winter is my favorite mix of seasons. I love the crispness of possibility in the cold wind. The looming finality of the year as the first snow covers the fallen leaves.
It stirs a kind of harvest for the mind. A mix of nostalgia, retrospection and personal accounting as you gather up everything that has grown in the orchard of your life.
For me, t’s the perfect time to remember good friends, great dogs and all the poems, love letters and beautiful books I still dream I might write. Most of all, it’s the time to be happy with yourself. To be content where you are, in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
In honor of how great all of that feels, here are five ways I have found—or plan on trying—to increase that sense of contentment. Because as someone once said, “It’s better when it’s good.”
1. Be Here Now
In my memory, I can see the thousands of photos I never took. One is of a gray-bearded old black dog of mine in Jackson Hole, grinning out the open window of a rusting blue truck. Another is of a herd of cows in Southern Colorado, bunched in the shade of a wind turbine. And my favorite is of my beautiful wife, entering the cool darkness of the (recently reopened) Campus Lounge in Bonnie Brae on a hot summer day, bathed in sunlight from the back.
Like that herd of cows, though, most of those unshot photos are images from the side of the highway—including a spring sunrise over the Great Sand Dunes, and a red rowboat on a deep blue pond near Steamboat Springs. All I had to do was pull over and click.
Except I never stopped. I can’t tell you where I was going in such a hurry. But it must have been important. So important I forgot.
2. Take the Small Town Turnoffs
Small Colorado towns are also places where I don’t stop enough. Growing up, it seemed as if every ski day ended with a pizza at Beau Jos in Idaho Springs, or a milkshake in Empire at the Lewis Sweet Shop.
Now, despite a recent burger and beer break in Salida, and a driving tour around the wonderful old homes and red brick buildings of El Corazon de Trinidad Historic District, I too doggedly stick to the highway. Especially in heavy Sunday traffic, at the exact moment when I should be pulling over at the Bread Bar in Silver Plume for one small drink.
Somewhere deep in my mind there exists a mythical Colorado town with cabins, mansions and old Victorian houses with pink and yellow trim built up into the hills. And there’s one lone ski lift. I sometimes wander there in my sleep. I wonder if I haven’t found it in my waking life because I simply haven’t taken the right, less traveled exit. Yet.
3. Have Less Stuff
Minimalism is often touted as one of the expressways to spirituality, sometimes with such zealotry you might think having no stuff (other than a couple pairs of skis, a cellphone, dog bowl and laptop) was a religion unto itself.
Hoping to achieve a little more uncluttered peace at home, my wife introduced me to the “Throw Out Fifty Things” concept—it’s also the title of a book, that promises that by clearing clutter, you can “Find Your Life.” Although we started out slow, with easy pickings like DVDs and long forgotten shirts and socks, the number of backpacks, unused electronics, and slightly worn parkas soon added up.
Donating it all felt good, as refreshing as an afternoon nap—which should probably also be on this list—so good that on the way home from the thrift store, I started thinking about what “bigger stuff” we could get rid of, and what kind of karmic channel clearing that might open up.
4. Go Old School
Last ski season was so bad, that other than a couple January days at Copper, and some beautiful spring slush in Aspen—and one absolutely amazing week in Big Sky, Montana—I hardly rode the lifts. It was during a similar season, some 20 years ago, that I first learned how to telemark, which made even the tamest groomers seem long, and incredibly steep.
I still have the lace-up leather Asolo boots I learned on before moving onto plastic. I also still have an un-drilled pair of Yostmark Classic Noodle skis in the garage that my wife asks me what I’m going to do with every other month. The answer always is, “One of these days, I’m going to mount them up.”
“One of these days” is finally here, because I just ordered a pair of Voile three-pin bindings. Today’s ski gear is so damn good, I figure it might be worth remembering how to make a long, deep, knee-bending turn on the old stuff. I’ll let you know if I find the wayback machine to free-heel Nirvana, or just end up embarrassing myself.
5. Be Nice
There’s a lot to be angry about, if being angry is what you want (I hear you Broncos fans). But right now, I’d rather feel good, about the weather, this beautiful world and the miracle of life. I hope you feel good, too. And that the rest of your year is absolutely freaking great!