We certainly get our fair share of bright and sunny days on an average summer in Northern Utah. As residents of the Heber Valley, our weather might be even a little nicer than surrounding geographies. Despite this wonderous and natural reality, all things community-minded in the Heber Valley are not always equally bright and shiny. If such a razzle-dazzle reality physically surrounds us, why is there room for such contention and discontent?
Earlier in my life, I was heavily preoccupied with fly fishing and travel. It just so happens that gamefish tend to live in fantastic locations (notwithstanding our own Provo River). Due to my early professional pursuits of fly fishing and skiing, I would ground myself in mountain resort communities and bounce to other tourism destinations for various recreational opportunities. The common thread in these adventures is woven through wonderful places and the people who have chosen to reside there.
When traveling, I always lived by a code: “Wherever you go, respect the locals.” Living this creed put me into situations with residents that an average tourist may not have the opportunity to experience. In hindsight, many human interactions facilitated better memories than the successes or failures of the fishing outings.
Everything has its opposite, and for every individual I met with an overwhelming stoke about their reality, I would meet people in the same locale that were jaded and embittered. This perceptual phenomenon of differing individuals is interesting because, objectively, the fixed reality of both dispositions is constant. Yet, there are dramatically different observations of that same reality.
A cartoon by Brazilian illustrator Genildo Ronchi frequently circulated in social media memes portrays “Two Guys on a Bus.” The image places us, the viewer, looking toward the back of a bus at two passengers. All the seats are vacant except those occupied by the two men. The road being traveled is cut on a very steep mountain. One of the travelers is on the inside, starboard, or mountain-side, and the other is seated on the port, outside, or open valley side of the bus. Both are looking out of their respective windows. The passenger looking at the mountain valley sees the light and grandeur of the setting. The passenger looking at the rock wall cut from the mountain sees darkness and monotony.
The truthfulness of this simple cartoon scenario is impactful. The bus, or the fixed reality, is constant for both passengers, yet they each experience an opposite perception of that reality. One could argue that the gloomy fellow is justified in his dismal outlook because he was stationed in a lousy seat. However, he chose to sit and remain there at some point and has not utilized his personal liberty to move. There are many open seats on the brighter side of the bus should he want to choose that reality proactively.
How we perceive our reality is up to us as individuals. Our perception is a personal choice. Regardless of our circumstances, we are never coerced into having a dire outlook or attitude. We must be compliant with negativity for it to take hold of our better nature. We will always have a choice, and each choice will have a consequence – for better or worse depending on the nature of the decision. The challenge then becomes choosing the brighter side of the bus when fate would have us looking at an unremarkable rock wall.
Several years ago, I came across a news story in The Daily Mail (a U.K based newspaper and website) discussing the ‘sewer divers’ of Delhi, India. Moreso than the story, one of the images has resonated in my mind for years. The image is of a man whose job is to dive, without any gear but a pair of trousers, into the depths of the city sewer system to remove clogs. He is standing chest-deep in an open, backed-up sewage portal on an urban street, surrounded by garbage and all manner of black water filth. Amazingly, his facial expression is content and dignified. I have often reflected upon the image of this man when I feel like my ‘reality’ has become dismal. To coin the cliché: ‘it can always be worse,’ and if this guy feels all right with that situation, I must be a weak man for my first-world, Heber Valley, Utah problem to be wrecking my vibe.
Yet another relevant cliché is that you ‘reap what you sew.’ After discussing choice, I recently explained this analogy to my pre-teen daughter. In the past, people were more connected to agriculture and growing their own food. Within this expression, we validate that we ultimately harvest (reap) the fruits of what we choose to plant (sew). If we plant seeds of anger, contention, distrust, or general malice, we can expect to receive more of this energy in the future. If we plant joy, peacemaking, honesty, or goodwill into our lives, we can expect a similar return for our efforts. Anne Frank, famous for her endurance and positivity in horrific circumstances, stated, “Whoever is happy will make others happy too.” We not only have the power to choose our perceptions – but doing so will also affect others.
This is the challenge for the summer of 2023, Heber Valley. CHOOSE THE BRIGHTER SIDE OF LIFE!
I mean, what do you have to lose?
You come from nothing,
You go back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!
Always look on the bright side of life.
REF Idle, Eric (Monte Python), “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” The Life of Brian, Virgin Records, 1979
Taking action on this simple principle will enrich your life and the life of the others around you.
Thank you for your ongoing support of Heber Valley Life magazine. I hope you find our collection of stories for this summer uplifting and that they help you see the brighter side of the Heber Valley.