One day each year, preferably in early November, we ride horses down the incomparable Kolob Canyon of Zion National Park in southern Utah. We enter at the park station close to the wonderful little town of New Harmony, and ride along the base of the Five Fingers—massive, sheer, monolithic red cliffs that jut up straight and impossibly high from the golden cottonwoods that grow along the clear, babbling La Verkin Creek.
It occurred to me (Richard) this year that one reason I love it so much down in that canyon is that it is the desert. The dry, crisp, still warm air is part of it, but it’s also the sparseness of the desert. There aren’t that many trees, so you can spend a moment just focusing on one single tree, standing starkly in its autumn glory, with a huge red cliff as its backdrop.
It was back in college when I first started to appreciate the desert. I read Edward Abbey’s Deseret Solitaire and loved his descriptions of a single flower, or a cactus with one bloom, or a few blades of grass emerging from the sand—appreciated because they were so sparse and so stark and so unique.
Now, it just so happens that we are writing a book for release next year—called The Entitlement Trap—and when you are writing a book, everything seems to be a metaphor for it. (I guess it’s a little like the saying “to someone with a hammer in his hand, everything looks like a nail.”)
Anyway, it occurred to me that there is a lesson here. When kids have too much—everything they ask for, everything their friends have, right now, and without working or giving up anything for it—they become overloaded, overindulged, over-serviced, and they lose their appreciation and their gratitude. They lose their uniqueness and they lose the chance to work and wait and earn and be surprised.