Learning for Life

by Dave Hanks

Some experiences in life stand above others as attitude shapers and lifestyle modifiers. My college athletic education was one of those. In fact, to compare it to the classroom would be unfair. It’s value to me stood “head and shoulders” above the academic learning I experienced. While the college curriculum was mind expanding, much of that type of learning came later while on the job. But participation in sports was a tremendous course in human nature and relationships.

All levels of individuals facilitated this learning process. Starting with the President of the University, who was an SOB, I learned that positions of authority are not necessarily staffed by people with high levels of integrity and that you had better recognize it. Two of the coaches fit that same category while others were somewhat more human. Added to that mix was the vastly divergent personalities of teammates and opponents, and rival school anti-Mormon attitudes. This later attitude, though well camouflaged, at times “leaked” from the head coach who was a Baptist. He never felt comfortable at BYU and it’s a wonder that he was ever hired. I’m convinced that LaVell Edwards great success was first “rooted” in the fact that he had a total understanding of the “Mormon psyche”.

From all the applied pressures, the rantings, the cussings, and in some cases coaches who provided the opposite extreme; I learned much about what does and what doesn’t motivate. Another lesson was how valueless lip-service is and how important is a quiet resolve. You learn that the truly dependable are few while the majority are not. I confess to having become a cynic when it comes to human palaver. Talk is not only worthless, at times it’s downright disgusting. Other things learned were: self discipline, a drive for perfection in all areas, and the experience of physical exertion that the average “Joe” has no concept of. However, mental/emotional aspects outrank the physical – the physical aspect is so closely matched betweenteams that only a slight edge turns out to be a huge difference.

Teamwork, competition, work ethic, getting yourself up when knocked down, etc. are recognized as values worth learning. One thing that is never mentioned is compassion. Compassion for the “other guy” because my success results in his failure. I have sat in losing dressing rooms as both a player and a coach and I guarantee that it is a miserable experience. This realization has made me less critical of how someone else performs a task. Knowing how it feels in the other locker room, I have never rejoiced in the victory but only rejoiced in the escaping from defeat.

There are those who think athletics should be de-emphasized or even done away with. How naive! Extra curricular events are every bit as valuable as the classroom and that is not to demean that area of one’s education. School sports can be a tremendous unifier, especially for LDS church members who may not have much in common otherwise. I am not the typical sports fiend, but I am deeply grateful for the enriching and life expanding gift that my athletic experience bestowed upon me!

Rules is for Fools

An old mountain climber (who lived in Hailey, Idaho) was being interviewed on PBS. He had surmounted most of the major peaks in the world. The girl interviewer suggested that he should write a book of rules for mountain climbing. Here was his answer: “RULES IS FOR FOOLS – each situation is different and if you can’t make a value judgment to apply to each, you’re dead!”

by Dave Hanks

Upon much reflection, I think that was one of the most astute comments I’ve ever heard and the longer I live the stronger this statement comes home to me. I have often wondered why we have so many rules. I guess it is because there is an abundance of fools. Fools, by their actions, cause more rules to be laid down.

But when those with leadership responsibilities are incapable (or refuse to) of making a value judgment – they will follow “The Book” to the last word. It is then evident that we are being controlled by fools and we are in big trouble. A good example of this is the endangered species act. The act has been very beneficial – a good thing! However, administrators of that act that won’t compromise or use good judgment in special circumstances, greatly harm the effort to protect the diversity of our planet.

Often, officials are more concerned with foolish perks than in using common sense to reach a realistic decision. Too often the drive to “save face” over-rides all other considerations – even if it results in negative or even harmful situations for others.

Christ gave us the only rules we need in the two great commandments. Some common sense, combined with some self-discipline in applying those two guidelines, would cover all the necessary bases.

What greed gets you

Greed is an insidious thing. Never being satisfied with what you have, even though it may be much, will eventually lead to disaster. “Those who seek greener pastures on the other side of the fence, usually end up with a pile of horse manure” is an old saying with much truth to it. When is more and more and more actually enough ?

A good example is from a football game played recently. TCU was projected to win the Mountain West Conference title. They were also listed in the top 25 and projected as a possible BCS contender. They also led the highly ranked University of Texas for a good share of that game.

In their next game against the lower rated Air Force Academy, they were given stiff competition. However, they held the lead 17 to 10 with 49 seconds left in the game. They also had a first down on the Air Force 22 yard line. All they had to do was run out the clock to secure the win. But they wanted more. They tried to score a TD by throwing a pass to the end zone. It was intercepted and the Falcons got the ball on the 20 yard line. Three plays later it was 4th and one on the 29. TCU, expecting a sneak, bunched up the center of the line. But Air Force ran an option and pitched outside. The pitch recipient went the distance for the score and tied the game. In the overtime, TCU’s field goal bounced off the upright and Air Force made theirs to win the game 20 to 17.

Was that just dumb coaching on TCU’s part or the desire to win by a larger margin?

That seems to be what greed does for you. It will come back to bite you.

Don’t let Dreams Rob you of Joy!

An admonition I once heard in a speech has proven so very apt. It was: “Don’t let what you don’t have, keep you from feeling the joy in what you already have.” This truism, like so many others, is hard to put into practice. It is an admonition that has become more powerful to me the longer I live.

We have a drive to add quality and diversity to our wildlife photo files. This has necessitated much travel – sometimes in less than pleasurable conditions. We have looked for Barred Owls in Missouri, Varied Thrushes on the West Coast, and many other species in other states, only to return home and find many of them right here in Cassia County. Also, on two separate jaunts into the South Hills (once to look for Evening Grosbeaks and the other to find Red-Breasted Nuthatches) we were discouraged and returned home. But, WHOA! – Right on our front lawn were about 50 grosbeaks, and on another occasion the nuthatches were on the trunks of a couple of trees in our yard.

When we’re out and about, people are always asking if I have seen anything exciting. What they really want to know is, if I’ve seen a rare species. My reply is that everything I see is exciting – and I genuinely feel that way. It is strange to me that someone would spend big money to get to a location to get a glimpse of a rare bird, in order to put another check mark on their life list.

North Heglar Canyon has proven to be as good a photography spot as any others we’ve visited. We usually make a couple of trips there each year. Lake Cleveland is also quite productive. Our own yard has given us much joy. Three pair of orioles have been nesting here, plus two pair of grosbeaks. Hawks, buntings, tanagers, goldfinch, towhees, nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers, owls, and various mammals – all these and more we see here at home. I especially love grosbeaks: The Evening and the Black-Headed with his yellow front; orange, white, and black sides, and prominent beak, are grosbeaks we have around us regularly and are a source of great satisfaction!

A Black-Headed Grosbeak – Excitement here at home

A Black-Headed Grosbeak – Excitement here at home

Beauty without Substance is Hollow!

The miles through Quebec roll on and on. The forests, hillsides, lakes, and streams are exceptionally pretty. But where is the animal life? We have traveled great distances without seeing a thing. What is wrong? Why? Satisfaction has escaped us. Other less glamorous areas, where animals can be seen, are much more enjoyable. As we travel back west through the prairie country, the scenery is less spectacular, but a few mammals grazing the grasslands and waterfowl in every pothole make things so very much more interesting!

The natural earth, with its vegetation and geology, is a glorious place. However, it seems sterile if there is nothing around to utilize the habitat! Fish in the streams, birds in the trees, reptiles scurrying on the ground, and mammals dominating the scene – just make a place so much more interesting. It’s like having a practical application for knowledge, and satisfaction is derived as a result.

The National Bison Range, in northwestern Montana, is an area of modest beauty. It is tremendously appealing though. Its Bison, Bighorn, Pronghorn, deer, and birds make it so. Davis Mountain State Park, in western Texas, is another place of a similar mien. Northern British Columbia is prettier than both, but it’s the caribou, bears, and other fur-bearing mammals that give it substance.

Yellowstone and Glacier parks both have, not only the animal life, but scenic beauty to add to the mix. Many of our parks do, and that’s what makes them such special places. I hold my breath that these unique spots of our earth won’t be desecrated.

Beauty and utility usually go together. It’s when they don’t, that things just are not right.

These Bison add character to mountain scenery

A Learning for Life

Some experiences in life stand above others as attitude shapers and lifestyle modifiers. My college athletic education was one of those. In fact, to compare it to the classroom would be unfair. Its value to me stood “head and shoulders” above the academic learning I experienced. While the college curriculum was mind expanding, much of that type of learning came later while on the job. But participation in sports was a tremendous course in human nature and relationships.

All levels of individuals facilitated this learning process. Starting with the President of the University, who was an SOB, I learned that positions of authority are not necessarily staffed by people with high levels of integrity and that you had better recognize it. Two of the coaches fit that same category while others were somewhat more human. Added to that mix was the vastly divergent personalities of teammates and opponents, and rival school anti-Mormon attitudes. This later attitude, though well camouflaged, at times “leaked” from the head coach who was a Baptist. He never felt comfortable at BYU and it’s a wonder that he was ever hired. I’m convinced that LaVell Edwards’s great success was first “rooted” in the fact that he had a total understanding of the “Mormon psyche”.

From all the applied pressures, the ranting, the cussing, and in some cases coaches who provided the opposite extreme; I learned much about what does and what doesn’t motivate. Another lesson was how valueless lip-service is and how important is a quiet resolve. You learn that the truly dependable are few while the majority is not. I confess to having become a cynic when it comes to human palaver. Talk is not only worthless; at times it’s downright disgusting. Other things learned were: self-discipline, a drive for perfection in all areas, and the experience of physical exertion that the average “Joe” has no concept of. However, mental/emotional aspects outrank the physical – the physical aspect is so closely matched between teams that only a slight edge turns out to be a huge difference.

Teamwork, competition, work ethic, getting yourself up when knocked down, etc. are recognized as values worth learning. One thing that is never mentioned is compassion – compassion for the “other guy” because my success results in his failure. I have sat in losing dressing rooms, as both a player and a coach, and I guarantee that it is a miserable experience. This realization has made me less critical of how someone else performs a task. Knowing how it feels in the other locker room, I have never rejoiced in the victory but only felt relief in the escape from defeat.

There are those who think athletics should be de-emphasized or even done away with. How naive! Extra curricular events are every bit as valuable as the classroom and that is not to demean that area of one’s education. School sports can be a tremendous unifier, especially for students and alumni who may not have much in common otherwise. I am not the typical sports fiend, but I am deeply grateful for the enriching and life expanding gift that my athletic experience bestowed upon me!

Making the Stop