It’s been a most interesting journey, these past few months … baby steps through uncharted territory, if we can get that past the compound-metaphor monitors. In the daily battle against the forces of discouragement, isolation and resignation, we need to utilize every tool in our kit.

There’s pressure for us to stay away from each other, to choose our desire for health and “safety” over the less obvious (but no less real) need for human connection, both of the physical and emotional variety.

So how shall we then live? — to re-examine the question once posed by Dr. Francis Schaeffer. I don’t have any original ideas on the matter, but I am committed to being part of the solution in terms of my own path and where our little community on the Palmer Divide is concerned. The “lock down and mask up” thing may have been what was needed (not conceding that point, but willing to admit my non-expertise here), but I believe we have the option — nay, the responsibility — to refuse to surrender to the socially corrosive and dehumanizing side-effects of this prescribed treatment. A recent example of this was the overwhelmingly Orwellian feel to my visit to a certain store in the Park Meadows neighborhood (breathing one’s own exhaust while winding through a maze marked almost exclusively by signs reminding us of the company’s deep commitment to “saving” us and the planet … quite surreal in a Big Brother-y kind of way).

What to do on a practical level to keep from being a victim of the times? My solution has been to just say no (Mrs. Reagan would be proud, eh?) to what some would like us to accept as “the new normal,” to the impulse to disassociate and disengage, and to the various incentives to simply hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. “Not gonna dew it,” to borrow from another prominent political figure (or at least Dana Carvey’s impersonation of George Bush the elder) … the necessity of my staying “out there” amongst my fellow Tri-Lakers through this whole thing for professional reasons has been a huge blessing, and one that makes me more grateful than ever to live in a community where a lot of folks understand that societal health is at least as vital to our collective future as is individual physical health.

My personal sanity-savers have included business owners around the area (many of whom I’m happy to call friends), my Monument Living Magazine customers and news/feature subjects, this bi-weekly column (thanks to The Tribune crew for being gentle with me), my Ashtōnz bandmates (through livestreaming and recent in-person engagements we’ve managed to keep the music rolling), my tennis-playing aiders and abettors (the ladies at Woodmoor C.C. and the guys at the Lewis-Palmer court complex) , my family (we’re not all in unanimous accord on this thing, but haven’t allowed it to be an agent of division), and the folks who’ve been part of our “meat and moo-sic” hoedowns and other ranch activities.

This past week alone reminds me of the abundance of therapeutic fun I’m blessed to be a part of, including Longhorn pasture tours at our place with friends from Colorado Springs and passers-through from North Carolina, the Tri-Lakes Chamber’s monthly Business After Hours event held at our barn on July 21 and live Ashtōnz shows at the Speedtrap in Palmer Lake and at Limbach Park in Monument.

Strange days have found us, to be sure … and if anybody has a clue as to what the future holds you may want to keep the info to yourself. My angle here is to maintain a steady regimen of “Monumental monkeyshines,” connecting friends and neighbors for the benefit of shiner and shine-ees alike. Don’t know if we’re truly “all in this together,” but we’re all in it one way or another. Let’s make the best of things, shall we?

Charlie Searle has lived in Monument since 1994 and is active in a variety of pursuits in the Tri-Lakes area, as his tagline “Meat, Motors, Music, Media” attests. Contact Charlie at AlongTheDivide@pikespeaknewspapers.com.

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