Search This Blog

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Ouray Presence

So the other day, as I'm racing to the airport, dodging traffic, my mind began to wander. I saw this giant metropolis that I live in, and considered how those of us who live in check out for the weekend ... and then check right back in. We step out of the rat race, only to return a few days later. The more hopeless of us will check our e-mails and carry our cell phone while we're away --- not wanting to miss a moment of that rat race that might actually matter. (As if there could be such a moment!)

I began to wonder what it would be like to live on the other side of that rat race. What would it be like to live at the opposite of a giant American metropolis? You know, I've been to those places. I really would, as I ponder it, consider them to be the opposite of say Los Angeles, New York City or Dallas/Fort Worth for example. They don't exhibit any of the character and nature of our giant, teaming cities. We have this way of life in America --- and it is spreading across the country. Our cities gobble up our rural areas --- and convert them to teaming cities and towns. Those who live in the gobbled up areas begin to act just like the people in the teaming cities.

We race from one thing to another. We juggle schedules, juggle bills and can't seem to find time to day anything that really matters to us. We're too busy doing what we have to do to get by. Our jobs are demanding. Or our jobs throw us away, out to the wolves, telling us that we don't matter and aren't necessary. Perhaps someone in India can do our job faster, better and cheaper. So we're left in the metropolis, alone. Maybe frightened. And yet we stay. The rat race consumes our time, our energy, our money and even our health. And yet we stay.

But what about the opposite side of life? Perhaps you've been to it as well. I once went on a vacation to Maui. After a few days there, we met a couple at dinner who asked what we do. Neither my wife or I could remember what we do. It was a hilarious moment. Looking back, I'm wondering why it would matter what I do. Would that define me? Would it give me value? Would it help me matter? What if I lived in Maui and did what people in Maui do?

Another time, we visited Bar Harbor, Maine. It was quiet. I remember the morning being so foggy you couldn't see to drive. So we sat and had tea with the innkeeper, over banana nut bread. Eventually the fog cleared ... and we scurried back to the rat race. We fought the traffic back to Boston, did battle with a rude rental car agent, were herded onto the airplane like cattle and rushed back to DFW so we could resume our own personal rat race. Do you think this kind of behavior really makes sense?

Yet another time, we visited the island state of Tasmania, south of the Australian continent. We went to Hobart, its capital city. But we spent most of our time out in the rural areas with some friends. They lived near the sea. We watched dolphins playing in the sea while we ate our breakfast. We had showered with rain water captured in a holding tank - after waking up on our futons in the solar heated bedroom. I remember driving to the south side of the island, and standing on sand dunes that must have been 30 stories tall. There were cliffs out in the ocean. It felt like we were literally at the end of the world. It was gorgeous and serene. I wondered where the rat race was down here. How had they kept it out?

But as I drove to the airport, I concluded that of all the places I'd visited, which seemed to be at the opposite of DFW or any other grand American metropolis, it would have to be Ouray, Colorado. (You can click on the picture to enlarge it and see Ouray for yourself.) If you've never been to Ouray, I highly recommend it. It's better than Vail - because the rich people haven't taken over it. Ouray is a town nestled in the mountains (literally). It seems like the world can go on - or not - and people in Ouray wouldn't really be aware of it. Perhaps more importantly, they wouldn't really be bothered by it. Just driving through Ouray gives one a state of mind. It's a sense that the world is okay, life is okay, and everything will work out fine. As the snow falls softly in the night, people snuggle in front of a fire in their wool sweaters. I think they have time to focus on what really matters in life. It's as if Ouray says yes to the important, but never to the urgent.

I like that Ouray state of mind. Saying yes to the important, but forbidding the urgent. I wonder why the rest of the world can't act like Ouray - or Tasmania - and just pretend that it's at the end of the world. I think if I had my druthers, I'd move to Ouray. I'd get a second home in Tasmania or in Bar Harbor, Maine. I'd look for mountains. I'd want lots of fog. Some snow to slow me down would be good. It would help keep out the urgent - saving room for the important. Yes, there would be an Ouray presence. There I would be present. I would not be rushing anywhere to do anything.

So the irony of this poetic justice? I write this as I sit in the airport, waiting for a flight to rush from one teaming metropolis to another. My week will be busy with meetings and phone calls and lots of stress. I'll be answering to the urgent much of the time, and sadly neglecting the important. For you see, that's what the rat race demands of us. It has never been to Ouray, Colorado!

No comments:

Post a Comment