The beauty of 'just enough'

One day each year, preferably in early November, we ride horses down into the incomparable Kolob Canyon. 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 LaVerkin creek.

It occurred to me 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 its 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 Solitare and loved his descriptions of a single flower, or a cactus with one bloom, or a few blades of grass emerging from the sand. Things appreciated because they were so sparse and so stark and so unique.

Not to say that thick rainforests or profusions of bright flowers are not wonderful. But it is a different kind of beauty, and if we are not careful we get a little sensory overload and fail to appreciate the individual blooms.

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, over indulged, 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.

By the way, if you are a little worried (or a lot) about the entitlement trap with your kids, you can reserve an advance copy of the book. Just send us a note (to and we will be sure you have a chance to get one of the first copies off the press.

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