In the wake of what will now be affectionately termed “Undiegate,” I took a much needed sabbatical in California.
Kate Dalley of 1450 Fox News took a sick day, which was much to my good fortune as I was dreading going on the air to field calls and questions about the infamous article and subsequent photo. If she is not there, I am not there. I got the news Wednesday morning and inside of an hour was packed and California-bound.
I spent a few days on a sailboat out of Dana Point. I surfed in Encinitas and Ventura. I met with corporate sponsor connections for some of the outdoor retail brands I am an ambassador for. I shot a lot of photos and I even read and wrote some. My sons by my side for almost every minute of this made it even sweeter.
What I most relished was the absence whatsoever of the nonsensical behavior so prevalent in these parts. The stench of hypocrisy was so rife in the air that it took me clearing Primm, Nevada before I began to feel akin to normalcy again.
I fielded a dozen or more emails and calls and even a few tacit threats. I needed the break.
Sitting here under a slightly moonlit sky in Ojai, I ponder the words of Mark Twain, who said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
And I cannot help but think that the good people of this community need to get outside of the bubble a little more, if for nothing else than to become acutely aware that there is a whole world out there and to perhaps see that, while not out to mock them or get them per se, the rest of the world does see things that happen in this community in a much different light.
Living and working in only one place one’s own life leads to a stagnancy of the mind and soul, I think. It disconnects people from one another—alienates them, even. It is fatal to the human condition. I think everyone knows this innately, but when it comes time to deal with it in real time, we can become mired in the mud of default normalcy. We fear change. We embrace stagnancy. And in so doing, we embrace an apathy that leads nowhere but to the narrowest of mindsets.
For the first time since I have lived and worked in this little town, I am torn, vacillating between the desire to stay and be part of the collective good here and to leave this place and not look back.
I will say this: I was not surprised by the reaction. Just disappointed.
See you out there.
Dallas Hyland is a freelance writer, award-winning photographer, and documentary filmmaker. As a senior writer, opinion editor, and photo editor of The Southern Utah Independent, Hyland’s investigative journalism, opinion columns, and photo essays have ranged in topics from local political and environmental issues to drug trafficking in Utah as well as the international front, covering issues such as human trafficking in Colombia. His work has received wide recognition and has won independent film festival awards and was a 2015 finalist for the Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Based in Southern Utah, with his film a photography studio in Kayenta’s Art Village, he works tirelessly at his passion for getting after the truth and occasionally telling a good story. On his rare off-days, he can be found with his family and friends exploring the pristine outdoors of Utah and beyond. You can listen to him live as a regular guest co-host on the Kate Dalley talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM in southern Utah.