There is this moment in life when you truly come to understand value. I’m not talking about the monetary kind you come to know from your first paycheque. I’m referring to the intrinsic value of intangible things namely family, friends and love. While I may have thought I fully grasped them, I took a flight out to Vail Colorado and learned a few things on the subject. Random, I know. Given the time of year, early May, right after the high season. Oh, and I don’t really ski, so that was kind of out of the question anyway. So then why you ask, why on earth would I venture to the Rockies? Well, I heard about this place tucked in the mountains that happens to be home to a family known for their unique infallible kindness and hospitality. There’s more, they own and operate a store that isn’t so much a store really, rather a harmonious masterpiece of homeliness and opulence. More on that later… Let me start the whole story when I first met Axel senior. The head of the family and the man who taught me a lesson or two in people and yes, of course value.

After a three hour plane ride and stopover followed by a two hour drive into Vail, I got out of the car to be greeted by Axel himself. In a half asleep daze, I shook hands with this slender man cloaked in a veil of absolute darkness. The only real light was emanating from the house behind him, and the moon above. Stepping inside this cabin like home all I could smell was a beautiful wood musk, I wouldn’t yet realize just how majestic it was until I woke the next morning. Once the sun pierced through the window in my room, I finally saw the ornate woodwork…everything was covered in it. Never had I seen something like this in person. As I moved into the hallway, the light poured into the corner leading into the front entrance and kitchen. As I looked up, a smiling radiant woman appeared before me. Janie, Axel’s wife, shook my hand and led me into the dining room and suddenly the wholeness of this place sunk in.

As we sat for breakfast, Axel was perched in the window frame next to me and shared stories of the surrounding mountain side. Out the corner of my eye, I peeked behind him while trying to hang on his every word as if on the edge of the snowy peak at my rear. This was a life well lived indeed. You see, Axel had just come from a trek earlier that morning. It was a liberating voyage he wanted to impart and it tied in to the bigger picture of this place. It wasn’t about him so much as it was about the importance of everything around us. This world, filled with every imaginable experience, is yours for the taking. It was about understanding that you are only limited by the constraints you put on yourself and really nothing more; being able to morph from one situation to another; being able to adapt and prepare your mind for inevitable change. This was the key to being happy. Accepting that reality and rolling with the punches.

As we packed up and readied to leave the house for our adventure, I lamented about how thin the air was up here. Being from a significantly lower elevation in the city, I started to notice how hard it was to move around. He looked at me and chuckled, “look at the mountain goats, they can jump from one rock to another with ease.” I think he was trying to tell me something important…


Credits to Niel Watson | A & H Magazine

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