Bosworth: Remind yourself of the reason for living here: Family, career and environment (column) | VailDaily.com

Bosworth: Remind yourself of the reason for living here: Family, career and environment (column)

Al Bosworth
Valley Voices

This morning, I was tasked with going up on Beaver Creek Mountain to unlock Spruce Saddle for the day. On the way, I was greeted by a herd of 12 deer, a half-dozen elk and a spectacular view looking down on the snow-covered Gore Range. The leaves are all changing colors, and it's a beautiful, cloudless, bluebird day.

That got me to thinking of why I have spent the past 35 years of my life here. Many times it has not been easy living in this valley. The cost of living is high, sitting in traffic on Interstate 70 during a winter snowstorm can be frustrating, and surviving the annual onslaught of tourists can be an endless source of frustration, amusement and amazement.

But those days are the balancing factors for the mornings like this. After spending well more than half my life here, I still had to stop and take some pictures of this glorious morning.

I was once told that people make their decisions in life based on three factors: family, environment and career. Knowing the answer to those three things will tell someone if they're in the right place. I spent more than three decades in the fire service, most of which were here in Eagle County. The advancement opportunities in a small department such as this were somewhat limited compared to other departments in the bigger cities.

Many of the firefighters who moved on to other, larger departments returned for a visit as captains or chiefs. They had moved up in the ranks while I remained somewhat stagnated in my career due to the low turnover in our small department. I often wondered if I had made the right decision to stay. But looking back now, I realize I may have put my career on hold, but I did satisfy the other remaining factors. I have a great family, and I couldn't be more proud of who they've become. I also raised them in one of the best environments on the planet.

Was life easy? No. In fact, sometimes it was downright hard. Being a blue-collar worker living among millionaires is never easy. I worked two or three jobs to support my family. That extra money was spent on an endless chain of ski racing, ice skating, gymnastics, horses and rodeos, tap dancing and ballet lessons, as well as less organized activities such as bike riding, rafting, camping and last-minute trips in general to nowhere … just because we all need some relief from the insanity. My rationalization has always been, "Why live here if you can't take the time to enjoy all the benefits of those sacrifices?"

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So the next time you're approached to answer a seemingly stupid question that everyone should know the answer to, smile and remember why you're really here. Family, career and environment. Not everyone is given the opportunity to satisfy the majority of those life choices.

Al Bosworth is a retired firefighter who still lives in the valley with his wife of 27 years.