EDITOR’S NOTE: “Random Rhapdsody” is a new bi-weekly Opinion column running Wednesdays in the Sierra Sun, offering commentary on the Truckee/Tahoe lifestyle and other random observations.
Soon after my arrival in town a year and a half ago, a childhood friend who’s lived in Truckee 15 years (yes, he’s “been here longer”), told me something I’m often reminded of — “You can’t escape society.”
After being helped at a local supermarket deli counter a few weeks ago, I stepped back, allowing a late-middle-aged, rather rotund gentleman in an oversized T-shirt and sweats politely move forward for his turn.
After placing an order with the clerk, the unassuming gentlemen followed protocol and joined me a few steps back.
Soon thereafter, a well-tanned, also middle-aged, fit and rather good-looking aristocrat, in period golf attire and visor, confidently appeared at the now unattended counter impatiently glancing around, seemingly curious if the serfs noticed his presence.
Much to my surprise, the gentlemen waiting next to me asked the well-to-do golfer, “How’s it going?” — which his improbable friend boastfully replied “Livin’ the dream.”
I was somewhat caught off guard, not only by their acquaintance, considering their apparent conflicting lifestyles, but also by someone responding to being asked how they’re doing with “Livin’ the dream,” loud enough for everyone in the deli, bakery and at the sandwich bar to hear, without embarrassment.
When I first moved to Truckee I envisioned leaving behind the pretense, materialism and competitiveness that permeates the subconscious of people who live in the city.
I anticipated being surrounded by friendly, like-minded outdoor enthusiasts, enjoying a laid back lifestyle, far removed from “those” people I needed a break from.
However, with my deli experience being just one example, I quickly realized that what my friend told me was true. I was obviously naïve to think otherwise.
My naivety’s been exposed on numerous other occasions; one of the more memorable was being lectured on the importance of living my dreams by a dink member of the cannabis culture 15 years my junior — of course, without him knowing anything about me, and only after I was besieged with the dream life he’s living.
With the assorted lot of characters who live in Tahoe/Truckee, some transient, some part-time and some at economic extremes, I soon realized that the Tahoe Lifestyle can’t possibly mean the same thing to everybody, so I started doing some digging.
I didn’t just plow through internet search engine hits, I also reflected on the people I’ve developed, and contemplated developing, relationships with since moving to Truckee, in addition to looking within.
What does living the dream really mean? How does the dream relate to the Tahoe Lifestyle?
The journey those questions took me on led down a path that ended where it began, at me.
After spending the past 25 years with the mindset “more is better,” I became very good at getting more, but eventually realized I was on the preverbal hamster wheel.
I may have a house on Lake Tahoe, but my neighbor has a house in St. Moritz (I have neither, by the way). My point is, where does it stop? Most know it never does, but few actually live it, unless they’re somehow forced to.
That’s when I started living my dream. I discovered that, for me, living the dream means surrounding myself with people who possess humility — unlike the golfer and dink — self-awareness and honesty. I’ve lived long enough to know that if someone possesses those traits, it’s likely they’ll be someone I can trust to be a true friend.
While I wasn’t able to escapee society by moving to Truckee, I was able to surround myself with a far greater number of people who are more laid back, friendly, enjoy the outdoors and aren’t on the “more is better” train.
All I needed to do was adjust my radar. Now when I sense I’m dealing with one of “those” people, I shy away instead of letting myself get drawn in. Been there, done that. It takes work sometimes, but I just remind myself there’s no cheese down that path.
I’ve come to the opinion that livin’ the dream, Tahoe style, is more of a pipe dream, a cliché commonly used to market real estate, and by people seeking to fill some void in their life.
Measuring your self-worth based upon whether you’re living a Tahoe Lifestyle that’s defined by the number of outdoor activities you participate in, having as much free time as possible to enjoy those activities and making sure everybody’s well aware of the “dream” life you’re living, is not my definition of living the dream.
That lifestyle is more like scratching an itch from the inside — it’s never going to be satisfied.
Nick De Fiori is an actuary by profession and a lifelong outdoor enthusiast. He holds a bachelor’s degree in earth science and has a passion for mountain environments. A Truckee resident, he enjoys spending his free time with his wife and two young boys exploring the wilderness during the summer and skiing in the winter. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.