Alta States 

A Christmas Fable


"But he isn't wearing anything at all!" said the little boy. "Shhh," warned his elders. "He might hear you and banish you from his realm..."

- Hans Christian Andersen, The Emperor's New Clothes

It all happened long ago and far away on a funny little planet in a parallel universe strikingly familiar to our own. The town in question was called Hummer, named after the great mountain peak that loomed over the modest community. And Hummerites - as those who lived there were called - were fun people indeed.

It was Mt. Hummer in fact, that had drawn the original pioneers to this lofty place. And like all mountain folk, they were refugees. In this case, however, they were refugees from the boredom and strife and unhealthy life of their urban counterparts. Their goal was to find another way to fulfillment; a less degrading way to address the challenges of their day-to-day existence.

If only they could plug into the power and magic of the mountains, they figured, this would lead them to some kind of deliverance from the madness of city life. If only they could focus on healthy living with lots of laughter and fun social gatherings, they might find a way to sustained happiness here.

And it totally worked. Living in the shadow of Mt. Hummer, local residents were able to shuck off their old urban carapaces and really explore their existential limits. They could climb and ride and sing and dance to their heart's content. On warm summer days they would even shuck off their clothing and celebrate their nakedness in all its natural glory.

And slowly but surely the word got out - these Hummerites were inspiring. They were fun to be around. Loose, cool - and ready for just about anything.

Their life-affirming spirit was catching. Other people wanted a taste of their wizardry. No matter that they'd have to eventually go back to their humdrum existences, a growing number of visitors were willing to spend as much as was required for a little restorative time with Hummerites. And soon the glory of Mt. Hummer - and the associated lifestyle of its wacky, creative residents - was being heralded from one end of the planet to the other.

Hummer grew. It grew and grew and grew until it was an overfed, over-indulged caricature of its former self. But now Hummerites were making money. Some were making a lot of money. And nobody wanted that particular tap to be turned off.

Meanwhile, something strange was happening to the town. The place just wasn't the same anymore. For as soon as the cash started pouring in, the magical spirit that had once effortlessly animated Hummer started to dim. And the more the money flowed, the less that particular light shone.

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