When you choose to park it at 6,000 feet with a population of around 7,000 people, you are making a lifestyle choice. Part of the package includes isolation. Our valley is rather remote, and I believe that in order to embrace this characteristic, you have to be comfortable with being a little out of touch, in general.
For instance, if you are adverse to world news and don’t necessarily want to know who is killing who on a daily basis in the Middle East, you may have a personality that suits living in a remote location like Teton Valley. If you don’t really care about staying current on, say, what celebrities like to wear to a Sunday BBQ in L.A., you would probably fit in well in Teton Valley.
And once here, there is even more opportunity to ignore what is happening not only on a national level, but on a global one as well. It’s just so distracting, see?
You’re driving around, or you’re outside for any reason at all, and it’s just one gigantic shiny bauble hanging in your face. The hills. The mountains beyond the hills. The wildlife, including birds of prey soaring over one’s head with calm grace. The sheer majesty of it all. And that is what we want here. We want to be enclosed on a daily basis by distractions that are somehow larger than our tiny lives. Acknowledging the “in your face” brilliance of our local mountain ranges makes you tend to forget the minutiae of everyday life. You forget about trouble in other parts of the world – you forget about what made you angry two hours ago – you forget Miley Cyrus’ twerking obsession.
Every weekday, I drive up and over Teton Pass, gaining 2000 feet in elevation all the way to the top and then snake down into Wilson, Wyoming on my way to Jackson, to sit at a desk. I think about past commutes; one hour to my desk in Minneapolis in five lanes of urban traffic. Forty-five minutes to my desk in St. Louis, in humid carbon emoted air, in effect packed onto the highway like so many sardines.
Now my gas pedal propels me through mountain peaks, on the edge of so many dives in the landscape. Don’t go too fast around that hairpin turn. The possibility that a moose may be on the other side crossing the road with a slow, lumbering gait is very real. And you don’t want one of those fellas coming through your windshield. Instead, you need to get safely to the top – a panoramic view of the Snake River and Wyoming mountain ranges. The view changes with such frequency due to weather and light, that your eye is always seeking the nuances of their ever changing faces.
And so it goes here in the mountains, close-up to the wild. Close enough to know that there is something out there larger than our human concerns and pettiness. It draws us in and makes us stay here, in a high mountain bubble that keeps our priorities straight.