Opinion » Alta States

Alta States

Gord Rox (Harder) - to the Peak and beyond



It's easy to get sentimental about the past. The rough edges seem to get smoothed out by time. The high moments, in contrast, become enhanced as the years roll on. Funny thing too: we appear far smarter, handsomer, prettier, stronger, bolder - and oh-so-sexier - through the lens of Father Chronos than we do looking in the bathroom mirror.

But then maybe we were. Take Whistler in the late 1980s. Can anyone who lived that era really argue that today's harried, unhappy, over-stressed and over-worked local has it better than the goofy, fun-loving, hard-charging, life-hugging resident who populated this valley back then?

Of course not. That was 25 years ago, you'll argue. Places change. Times change. I mean, the world is a far different place today than it was when Ronny Raygun was president of the good ol' US of A. Isn't it? Stop for a moment. Take a deep breath. Ask yourself this: why did you move to Whistler?

If you answered "to get rich," you belong to a very small group here. Go ahead, quibble if you want, but I believe most Whistlerites moved to this valley to get away from the unhealthy trends of modern urban culture. They wanted to get closer to nature, to seek a playful relationship with their environment - riding, sliding, paddling, pedalling, hiking. And they wanted to do this surrounded by enthusiastic, outdoor-focused folk who nurtured the same kinds of dreams for themselves and their children.

The last thing they sought was a cheap reproduction of the crap they left back home. Whistler represented freedom. Wildness. Creativity. Whistler represented a chance to do things differently - and hopefully better - than they were done before.

Sound familiar? I hope so. In the many years that I've been writing this column, I've yet to hear different. No matter how people are drawn to Whistler initially - by friends, by business, by passion, by love, by happenstance even - most of them stay because they feel they've been profoundly changed by their encounter with this coast mountain valley.

So how did we get to this place where the mayor of the town can't go to the grocery store without fear of getting berated by his neighbours? Where people slash tires of officials they disapprove of? Where others dismiss critical thinking as the product of a deranged mind? We've become ugly and crass and cheap and unfunny.

This isn't the Whistler that I know. And I keep wondering how we devolved so quickly. I mean, really folks. The nudity and dope-smoking and risk-taking and innocent-fun-making of the late 1980s seems a lot less toxic than today's angry, over-charged, over-testosterone'd social-cum-business scene.