The Sky Always Wins

While vacationing in Utah several years ago, my wife and I found ourselves in the visitor center of Arches National Park, watching a film on the area’s dramatic natural history.

The narrator was explaining the forces and processes that, over tens of millions of years, created the confounding and awe-inspiring landscape we were now privileged to behold. The signature geological feature in the park, of course, is its many naturally-formed arches, designs that seem improbable but are plentiful throughout (and beyond) the park’s acreage.

The precarious nature of these formations was highlighted in the film; it was pointed out that some previously documented arches had already collapsed and, eventually, all of those currently standing would face the same fate. New ones, meanwhile, were emerging, if ever so slowly and not always perceptibly through the lens of the human eye.

In the description of how the elements shape these rocks over time, one particular line of narration stood out to me so much I’ve never forgotten it:

“In the battle between the rocks and the sky…[dramatic pause]…the sky always wins.”

If Planet Earth is a casino, the sky, apparently, is the house. There is no “winning” to be had by us mortals in the long run. We exist only with the permission of the elements around us, and are subject to their reliably unpredictable whims.

Yet…here we are! As unlikely, perhaps, as naturally formed rock arches. Each of us is here for our time in the sun, and then gone (pretty much instantly from the perspective of those rocks, regardless of our lifespan).

Though our stay at The Sky Resort & Casino is decidedly brief and our ultimate fate already sealed, we do have some choices to make with the hands we are dealt. While these choices might not matter much in the grand scheme of things, they will still have an effect on the quality of our experience and the experiences of those around us, maybe even a radical one. And that matters, wouldn’t you say?

Perhaps the most important choices we can make are in regard to our attitudes. Whatever happens to us, we can choose how to view it, how to see it, how to interpret it, how to respond to it.

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden put it this way: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

In other words: the sky always wins. But while we are briefly living under it, we can decide to make the best of and the most of our experience that we can, whatever rains down on us from above.

Originally published at on November 9, 2021.



Writer, musician, teacher, coach, philosopher, biped.

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