The Question of Wilderness, Part II


Maybe one doesn’t have to be an anthropologist from as far away as Mars to imagine that the divisions in Utah are perhaps more like family feuds, a split in a personality of a whole people, two siblings of the same civilization that symbiotically insist on and perhaps even create differences in order to perpetually seek to vanquish them. Like siblings who choose different paths and whose choices, then, feel like betrayal, we are afflicted by class, religious, ethnic, and yet sometimes literally f … [Read more...]

The Question of Wilderness Part I


In his popular story, “The Bear,” William Faulkner once described the wilderness of the South as having soils brutalized by whites and saturated by the blood of massacred Indians and beaten slaves, a tragic land, then, of at least triple inheritance. His wilderness, in other words, is no escape from the travails of human history. He wrote of “That dark corrupt and bloody time while three separate people had tried to adjust not only to one another but to the new land which they had created and inh … [Read more...]

Born on Third Base


In a classic speech, Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, recently addressed the graduating class at Stanford University and reminded them about the “conspiracy of love” that has enabled them to be at this particular point in their lives. What he wanted to convey was simply that every person’s opportunities and fortunate circumstances do not emerge in a vacuum and, much less, do not exist merely as a result of an individual earning or deserving them. Instead, he insisted that these circu … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #10 Learn to keep your wants simple and refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others


What I have always found intriguing about Doc’s thinking and his many books is that they are so utterly commonsensical that their importance is almost too easily lost on us. He kept his wants, his principles, and his thinking simple. And yet, like all great ideas, although they are presented in simple and straightforward language, they hold up against increased scrutiny and probing, revealing more rather than less. In the case of this, his final aphorism, Doc might as well have quoted from the S … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #9 Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a winter day

My friend Kristine Haglund has again prepared some terrific thoughts on this. You can find them here: … [Read more...]


I am pleased to welcome you to the new site for "Home Waters" here at Thanks, George Handley … [Read more...]

The Mountains Can Heal Us

It’s that time of year in Utah. People are flocking to the trailheads and heading up into the mountains for the chance to visit high mountain lakes or to stand atop a peak and look out over where we live. Hiking for recreation is a relatively modern invention. It certainly held little appeal to Mormon pioneers who spent months walking to Zion and then exhausted their bodies living by the sweat of their brow. But it almost seems that for many hiking has become a vital method for coming to their s … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #8 Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house, and fixing things.

I speak with no authority on this principle. I am a very unsuccessful gardener even though I like to blame the fact that my yard doesn’t get enough sun to grow things, and I am a far cry from a handy man. I don’t feel any particular pride even in my ability to keep a yard. I feel a great deal of shame about this and envy those with more skill and aptitude than I have. I know I could place a higher priority on domestic responsibilities, but I also try to blame my busy life. But that is Doc’s point … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #7 Learn to like the song of birds, the companionship of dogs

On #7, please see another great post by Kristine Haglund at this link: … [Read more...]

On My Marriage

As I read Kristine Haglund’s wonderful discussion of Lowell Bennion’s aphorism that we should learn to like people different than we are, I was struck by the comparison she made between our relationships with other people and with the creation itself. As a literary critic, I am well aware of a similar problem we create whenever we read. Peter calls it “wresting the scriptures,” but we might also simply call it narcissism. Instead of a window into another world, a book becomes a mirror, reflect … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #6 Learn to like work and enjoy the satisfaction of doing your job as well as it can be done

Doc founded the Teton Valley Boys Ranch in the 1960s on the idea that work was inherently valuable and that boys needed to learn to like it. I don’t know why girls were not included in his objectives. He never spoke about this, as far as I know. Certainly there was only so much he could do with one ranch and one idea, but his successor and one of my heroes, Dick Jacobsen, bought the property years later and reinstituted the boys ranch and then created a girls and family ranch on the other side o … [Read more...]

Lessons from Doc: #5 Learn to like people even though they may be different… different from you.

For a wonderful discussion of principle #5, go to this link and read a post by my friend Kristine Haglund: … [Read more...]