Crested Butte Mountain Resort is closed for lift-served skiing for the season. Normally we’d celebrate the end of the ski season with a final few slushy days of skiing on Mt. Crested Butte with afternoon beverages and laps with friends. For a reason you can guess – the ski area closed well early of April as part of the disruption to so many activities we would normally celebrate with others.
Tangent: With the electric powered ski lifts turned off I turned on my thigh-served skiing option on Friday and hiked up the ski hill, snowboard tucked under arm, to a mid-mountain watering hole at CBMR called the Icebar at Uley’s Cabin. Uley’s is named after an oxymoron – a local bootlegger with a trimmed beard and fashion – and was also apparently a good cook and did spend some time in the brig for the bootlegging.
Of course with the ski area closed the Icebar was closed also and so I had the whole place to myself with the exception of a couple of nosy gray jays. While enjoying a beverage and the fading sun on Cinnamon Mountain I let my brain spin – always dangerous – and I wrote this fictional review for the Icebar at Uley’s Cabin…
“Initially pretty bummed with the low-energy ambiance. Couldn’t find a bartender that cared. Normal for some mountain top tourist destinations but come on. At least the drinks were cheap (BYOB). And though I swear the ski resort’s event calendar said there was live music no musicians were to be seen. Fortunately I played my own music and no one complained. Sadly kitchen was closed but I saved $22 on a burger so there’s that. Wifi was free and fast. Checked bathrooms for toilet paper. None. Will come back but will confirm music calendar first.”
Tangent: I spent that afternoon at Uley’s Cabin with only myself and maybe the ghost of Uley and while I enjoyed the quiet and the uniqueness of an entire bar and view all to myself I don’t think of skiing as a recreation to be done alone. Since moving back to Colorado I’ve skied about about 30 days a year. My condo is a short bus ride to the base area and when there’s powder I’ll get up early for some thigh burning laps.
On other days I’d take a mid-day break from working at home and maybe an Apres drink or two while pretending I’m going to be productive afterwards. Most of those days involved skiing with others. Little “touches” with others on a given day matter and the science supports what intuition tells us. Humans are social beings and positive relationships might be the most important factor in our happiness according to those nerdy positive psychologists I admire.
Tangent: So what can one do? Social distancing is the new norm. We’re’ now a nation in isolation and not by choice. Oddly as a nation were trending towards isolation before this “thing” happened to us. Back in 2003 Lewis Feldstein and David Putnam wrote “Better Together” and explored the decline of civic involvement in the U.S. Everything from volunteerism to voting to attending faith-based institutions was on the decline. This civic disconnect has implications to our communities as you can easily surmise. Ha, I used surmise. Sweet.
Relationships matter. Other people matter. That simple phrase “other people matter” was the response from the late Christopher Peterson when asked to summarize positive psychology. So what do we do about these fractured connections to others? I’m paying attention to the little interactions with pharmacists (I’m, ok thanks.), Facetiming with my family and friends more often, jumping on Zoom game nights and talking to my neighbors more than ever – and maybe more than they want.
And right now more than ever you need others and they need you. Dr. James Doty at Stanford explains this dilemma of isolation with one statistic: 25% of people indicated they had no one to talk to when they were in pain or suffering. Reach out. Little acts of kindness are POWERFUL!
Full-Circle: I’m an optimist and that trait has been helpful right now more than ever. I see positive future for us knowing what comes now and next will be hard but humans are resilient. I hope this disruption gives us moments to pause, to savor and reflect on what’s important.
Some of us will absolutely lose sight of those newly found important things as we eventually get back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Hopefully the importance of others isn’t one of those things we forget. As I ride down the slopes past the Icebar next winter I’ll wave towards Uley and remember when we were the only two people at his bar and a nation in isolation and I’ll be grateful for others.