Chins up

The “holiday” season is upon us, and many people in this community are deeply depressed about it.

And why not? The economy is in the crapper. Credit markets have yet to free up. The government is handing out checks to everyone except the people who get to underwrite the payouts. “My liege, the peasants are revolting.” “Yes, I know, I can smell them from here.”

The one bright spot is that retailers have seen less than the anticipated shopping implosion. You won’t read this in the Wall Street Journal, but doesn’t it seem pretty logical? People shop when they’re stressed. It’s like a hunter-gatherer instinct to have more stuff for when the inevitable bad times hit.

Where have all the good times gone? You can’t go to a bar without seeing tweekers twitch and shake like St. Vitus victims. It seems there are more junkies hanging out in every joint, “ex” junkies who threw away their lives and talents to pursue a sharp-tipped plastic cock.

So we go to the forest, to the big box, to the grocery store parking lot to find a little piece of dead-but-in-appearance conifer thinking that that old smell of pine will invigorate our spirits of Christmas present, but all it does is emphasize the emptiness of the gesture. And in the meanwhile, the children find items to add to the wishlist every time SpongeBob goes to commercial break or a junk-mail catalog arrives in the mailbox. And it’s hard to spread the gifts around beneath the tree enough to convince yourself that it doesn’t look like you’re just spreading them around to look like there’s more there than there is. So you move the tree to a corner so you only have to barricade the third that faces the room.

And where is the snow? At least there’s still some free cross-country skiing available up in the mountains. Wouldn’t that be great, the falling snowflakes inspiring some metabolic increase to blow the blahs away, and maybe inspiring an equipment upgrade at the locally owned, independent shops? At least the ski resorts would show some signs of life and vigor.

Now, here’s the thing: That stuff only matters today. Today. Can you feel the rising? Something on the wind that whispers if we keep putting one foot in front of the other, we’ll get past this rough spot on the path? It’s like that moment on the Tahoe Rim Trail when you’ve been switchbacking up through a combination of powdery, nose-clogging dust and loose, ankle-wrenching rocks to that first glance over the ridge when the beauty of Lake Tahoe engulfs your consciousness and shakes your being. That’s when the expansion comes, when your nature encompasses and loves all the magnificence that lies before you.

There’s beauty in the world, people, and it’s not in the quality of the wrapping paper under the tree. You’re not going to find it at the bottom of a glass or on pay-per-view. There’s a meaning we, as a culture, have attached to this season. Study the rhythms of your neighbor’s stories. Study the down on your child’s cheek. When you look into the azure of Nevada’s skies, you don’t have to see the lack of flurries. You can see as far as your insight will take you.

It’s your choice.