It’s a beautiful, hot summer day in Vail, CO. Honored to be part of a wedding ceremony to be held at the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola,  Linda and I have had the opportunity to mosey around Vail, perusing the shops ($225 for a western hat that would fetch, maybe, $80 in Denver), enjoying the beautiful gardens and planters kept so immaculately trimmed by the Vail city staff. All in all, a delightful visit.

Perhaps the beautiful scenery above and within the town is why the visitors seem to be very friendly. On the ride up the gondola yesterday to the wedding rehearsal I had the opportunity to meet two young couples visiting from New York City. Remarking on the ambiance of Vail Village and the friendliness of the people, one of the women said, “You know, I’ve always thought that I and my friends were friendly, but using this as a standard, I can see why people think of New Yorkers as rude.” Continuing our ride to the top, I didn’t think they were rude at all — just friendly folks from the right coast, in my mind.

On my ride back down the mountain, I was blessed with meeting two “30-somethings”, professional guys from Atlanta that were in town for a week with their wife and girlfriend (I’m assuming that was one wife for one fellow and one girlfriend for the other, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself and ask for clarification). A fun, open conversation about everything from the pine beetle infestation to the fires of Southern Colorado to the apparent change in slope of the mountainside once snow covers it. Really, it was a great conversation! At the bottom, the conversation continued as we waited for the Village bus to take us back to Vail Village from Lionshead.

Once on the bus, being at one end of the line, seats were readily available (the buses have a good deal of space set aside to “standing only” — imagine riders with skis or snowboards in hand). Grabbing one seat, at the next stop a family climbed on board with the alpha male’s arm freshly bandaged. With his wife’s insistence and with me telling him I wouldn’t squeeze his knee, he consented to sitting down. The family had been up the mountain earlier in the day with rented mountain bikes. In an apparent show of bravado, the fellow had met the mountain with unfortunate results, a gash in the top of the forearm; the Village hospital was the beneficiary of that zero-sum game. But, once again, the whole family of five was full of joy and good humor. It was truly a delightful experience to spend a few minutes with them.

Of all those met and greeted, even of those walking down the streets — and the shops, restaurants and hotel staff included — I noticed only one scowl on the face of a young woman walking briskly down the street (perhaps in the midst of a lover’s quarrel or maybe she just tried to buy a hat?).

So the question is, “Why all these friendly people?” Could it be that this is our nature, when taken out of the stresses of our day-to-day lives? That is, our true nature is unveiled when we set aside those things that we hide behind — including our self-imposed stress! In the end, our stress is always self-imposed. So whether we’re in Vail or Denver or New York City or Timbuktu (yes, even there), we can choose to unveil our nature and be the friendly beings we are designed to be.

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