When I moved back home to Colorado in 2011, it was actually the second time I ran away to the Roaring Fork Valley. Both times, my reasons for wanting to hide in the mountains were similar. William Butler Yeats’ 1919 poem describing his feelings on the eve of World War I describes mine as well:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Here in the Roaring Fork Valley, the center does seem to hold. It’s a major reason why I want to be here. Even though, in 2016, violent crimes have seemed more prevalent, our small towns remain fairly safe—at least in comparison to big cities. In this valley, our public discourse remains civil. Courtesy, tolerance and respect are the hallmarks of our public space.
I pray we keep it that way. To counteract these bristling times, I urge us to reach out. Be courteous. Do something kind for someone who looks different from you or speaks a foreign language. Perform an act of random kindness.
It makes such a difference. As a journalist, I must read the news, even when, these days, my desire to remain well-informed is at odds with my desire to stay sane. About a week ago, when news of how the “blood-dimmed tide is loosed” made me feel like putting my head down on my desk and weeping, I experienced one of those surprise adventures that periodically convince me that “the ceremony of innocence” is not drowned.
My husband Mason and I had gone out for breakfast, mostly because local residents Greg and Kathy Feinsinger had given Mason a Village Smithy gift certificate for his birthday. During breakfast, I was telling Mason about having made a Rosh Hashana resolution to be more generous; it had inspired me to suddenly buy new computers for my elderly mom and her partner in Longmont, and then to stay over an extra day to set the computers up.
During this conversation, the waitress came up and told us that another couple, unbeknownst to us, had paid for our breakfast!
We gave our gift certificate to the waitress with instructions to give it to someone else who would need or enjoy it.
I don’t know who bought our breakfast, or who got our gift certificate. But my wish for both of them—and for you, dear neighbors—is the same: may the BEST of us remain full of passionate intensity.