The Utah Way
It’s hard to stay mad at human deficiency when you’re atop a mountain looking out over creation.
I’m Utahn. Some might accuse me of being proud of it. In Sunday School, they told me pride was no good. Something about it coming before a fall. With times enlightened, pride finds itself bona fide. That’s alright by me. I’ve never concerned myself with opinions. “Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die,” Brad Cooper might say.
I don’t mean to get political, but Brigham was right about this being the place. I don’t care if I get canceled for saying it. Where else, on a Magnavox encased in wood, could I have watched John Stockton drain a three on Charles Barkley’s head to send the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals?
I suppose I could’ve done that anywhere with a working Magnavox. It’s not like I had tickets. My point is nothing was boring about Salt Lake City that night. No, that was Utahn.
We have this thing. I know that’s vague, but so is the thing itself. It’s kind of like a catchphrase. We call it “the Utah way.” Great men and women have extolled its virtues over the years. As far as I can tell, none have defined it. I’m not a great man. I am, however, a Utahn. That’s all the permission I need to explain.
On August 11, 1999, a tornado touched down in the heart of Salt Lake City. Hundreds were injured, homes and businesses were damaged—one person died. In the aftermath, we did what we do best. We came together to grieve with the family who lost a loved one, provided the injured a year's supply of casseroles, and rallied to support the damaged businesses and homes.
And then, we faithfully disseminated an edited image that showed the face of Jesus in the middle of the tornado.
That’s the Utah way. It is, in a word, peculiar. Nothing wrong with that. After all, when Moses hiked up that mountain, God said, “Ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.”
The country sure is beautiful. No matter your take on the body politic, you’ve got to give Utah its due on the symmetry front. It’s hard to stay mad at human deficiency when you’re atop a mountain looking out over creation.
A couple of summers back, I found myself racing up Uinta’s backroads with a drink in one hand and someone I love in the other. The sun was setting on a river I’ve been known to fish with a fly. Damn, if I didn’t stop, kill the ignition, and take in a moment and view that’ll be etched in my memory for eternity.
I remember raising my drink to the sky—like a 27-year-old playing a high school football star on television—and saying, “Utah forever.” That was a good day. One of my best, to be sure. Tim Riggins couldn’t replicate it in Texas.
No, that was Utahn. Utah forever.