Thursday, May 30, 2013

Something More

I sat outside studying my script and attempting to give my skin means to not be so very white, when a robin landed on the chainlink fence across the yard. It was just the two of us, minus the near constant sound of passing cars a lifetime on a busy street has led me to ignore as white noise. He looked at me, the robin did, for a moment. And I wondered about all the life that's passed before. All the robins and all the people who have occupied the same space in all the time gone by, how we as humanity have shared the planet with numerous creatures, some we don't yet know and some that left our lifetime.

I thought about the purpose of me and the robin. Our spirits, our souls, our reasons for breathing on this planet at this moment.

I wondered if we're wasting our time, he on the fence, me on my lawn chair. But at the same time I think he's ever fulfilling his duty. He is ever constant in his quest for food, ever vigilant when crafting a nest, ever open to mating or taking a moment to stop and look around, to drop remembrances to a society that forgets there is life past our computer screens and smart phones. There is purpose more than studying a script. He's very careful with his time, the robin. Very purposeful with his life.

And I'm not wasting mine, in this chair. I'm multitasking. I'm getting two birds with one stone, if that's not too sensitive a euphemism to employ.

But as far as my purpose goes, as far as what God sent me here to do, am I wasting time? Who am I bringing to His truth by sunbathing in the backyard? Of what benefit am I, pensively reading or pondering the actions of a robin?

When I see it all clearly, when the robin and I pass this place to higher courts, will I shutter at all the wasted time? Will my productive time be yet classified wasted?

Am I meant to be the robin: each moment I breath dedicated to my purpose, or is that the blessing of humankind? Is that the beauty in what God allowed us to be, that I can take these moments in practices of man and still be welcomed home, because I also took moments to stop and look around and drop remembrances to a society that forgets there is life past this life. There is purpose more than this.

The Sky Can Become Our Possibility

The other day I posted on Facebook that I'm once again suffering from a severe case of My-Life-is-Excellent-itus, because frankly, it'd been a good day.

And things keep getting better.

Anne Frank, and sadly I'm paraphrased because I haven't read her diary in some six years, said she would lay in bed and think about what had happened that day and how she'd responded and how she could fix mistakes or react better next time. She'd review her life.

I often review my life. And for a long while it's been the whole scope of things--how that one day playing with my grandma's neighbors in their backyard with their puppy affected me as a child and transferred into who I am as an *cough* adult. I write with metaphor and often it's based on those moments as a kid that seemed utterly insignificant but now stand out as something utterly important, even if it's just for the fact I remember them.

I was on a date, ironically shortly before the optimistic life realization. They may or may not be related. You can twist/interpret my words as you may. I was on a date and we, as happens on introductory dates, were divulging information about ourselves.

And I kept running out of things to say. I made it through Jason Mraz and Back to the Future and suddenly I was drawing blanks. I'm not interested in things. I don't have hobbies. I felt very much insufficient and pointless. And my lack of sharing, of taking advantage of this guy genuinely wanting to hear me brag about myself, has nagged me for the past few days. To the point that today when I was at work and suddenly remembered a moment in my grandma's neighbors backyard where we were playing house in their little shed and a bee swarmed us and we had to abandon the little red bowl in our haste to safety.

I realized that I have a life behind me. I have memories and interests and experiences that are uniquely mine and mean absolutely nothing to anyone I cross paths with. But that someday I'll have shared those things. Someday someone will know my pointless stories. And how can I give up a few hours into a date, believing I've got nothing more to disclose.

I wasn't going to talk about that. What I sat down to blog (or rather stayed awake to blog/delayed watching Arrested Development to blog) is that I'm not so much looking at the long-range scheme of things, such as those memories from a childhood at grandma's, but the more recent things.

I auditioned for Pickleville Playhouse (in Bear Lake) in March, I think, and had I made a show it would have entailed rehearsing in Logan and living in Bear Lake for the summer for performances, which I would get paid for. It was an interesting and very much desirable idea.

But it would mean going seasonal at work and holding off on any Bountiful/Centerville life I would possibly have had that summer.

So I started to make ultimatums.

-If I don't make Pickleville I'll get red highlights in my hair.
-If I don't make Pickleville I'll buy a pet rat.
-If I don't make Pickleville I'll go on a mission.

That's the truth. I'm not exaggerating.

I didn't make Pickleville. I made Improvables. I didn't make Pickleville. I made 12 Angry Jurors.

Today at work I ran into the previous PTA president at West Bountiful Elementary, the lady who hooked me up with the directing gig. She told me she wasn't next year's PTA president, but that I was coming back next year for the musical, that the producer-mom would contact me in the summer about picking a show.

I got an email with the Improvables June schedule and I'm playing a show at Playbills'.

My director for 12 Angry Jurors told me she thought I'd be a great theatre teacher and then gave me tips/suggestions/offered advice for when I get closer to finishing up.

Things are right. I'm not going on a mission, and that's alright. I'm majoring in theatre, and that's alright. That guy I worried soooo much about didn't want to date me but found someone else, and that's alright. I'm so at peace right now that I can't even describe it. I just...I know I'm where I need to be. I know I'm who I need to be. I know these things are falling in place and I'm welcoming them with open arms. I love that I can look back and see how I just needed time for the mission question to make sense, I just needed time to grow acclimated to the theatre department, I just needed time for the river of life to wash my concerns downstream and for the irrigation gate to drop, sparing me from wasting water on a relationship that wasn't a relationship and wasn't going anywhere. I needed to get my head past the clouds.

And now that I'm there I love looking down and seeing how perfectly logical the path was the whole time, and I can scoff at myself, whom I now perceive to be an ignorant elementary school girl, and my impatience to just press on. I love seeing what I couldn't, and the peace that comes from knowing no matter how horribly lost I felt at those moments, no matter how much it nauseated me at times, regardless of those nights I cried, I was never truly lost. I was never truly wandering aimlessly. I hate to be cliche, but there were footprints in the sand, carrying me. All things are calculated for learning.

I'm just doing what I'm here to do. I'm pressing on, unable to understand what's lurking in the clouds, but hoping with all my faith it's for my good.

And that's life. It's a sunny day that's slightly overcast, and some moments you find yourself bathed in shade, but you get past the cloud and the sun's still shining.

Even if I don't see it, the sun's still shining.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Believe not God is in your heart, child, but rather you're in the heart of God.

"I found God when I thought I was happy, when I thought this is as good as life can get." -Al Fox

I'm not going to be long with this one. I just had that need to write again.

First, let me just say watch this video:

There's not much more I can say than this. I echo everything, and it's interesting to me how similar a circumstance I share with someone whose past is entirely opposite of mine.

But I suppose it's not that we are different, but rather that Christ is the same. "Forget not whose hands you're in...You have a God and He is yours."

My first year of college, both semesters, my LDS Institute class was held in the same room (110 to anyone who knows the Ogden Institute on Weber's campus). There's a picture of Christ in the front corner of the room. It's not that generic one that I have in my room, or that Al Fox has on the bookshelf behind her. It was  a different artist's rendition, and it was the first one that made me think of Christ as existing, rather some childhood fairytale.

I suppose that's the trouble with being raised in the church, seeing that picture in every primary lesson, or every time I glance across my bedroom. There were lots of fanciful stories I was told in my exuberant youth; stories of pigs building houses, bears eating porridge, a girl dangling her hair from a tower, men walking on water, a man feeding five thousand with loaves and fishes, a woman being healed by touching a cloak's hem...

Everyone has their conversion moment. Even if you've grown with the gospel set before you and wrapped around you. There's the moment when it stops becoming folklore and the reality clicks into place. Where suddenly I know Joseph Smith did see God and Christ; I don't just know the story. I know.

Suddenly I know Christ walked this earth, that the atonement is more than a word, that Gethsemane was more than a garden. That there is reality and truth in these stories.

That reality and truth are these stories.

I was sitting in Relief Society in my single's ward a few months back, and they passed around a stack of wallet sized pictures of Christ with little quotes on the back. I was handed the stack and I grabbed one out of the middle and passed it along. The pictures had been different, but somehow I ended up with this one.
That's the one from that institute classroom. That's the one that, to me, is Christ.

I stuck the little picture in my Book of Mormon, and every time I open it the picture falls out. I've been so afraid I would lose the little picture and never remember the artist (Greg Olsen) and would lose that little miracle of having it brought to me. So one night I decided I'd check out the guy's website to drill his identity into my mind, and see how much a print of this would cost.

I was on my phone, and couldn't decide if I should take the initiative and buy it for myself or wait until farther down the line when marriage and moving out happen, perhaps requesting it as a gift from my mom.

I was going to navigate from the page when the thought struck me to set this picture as the background on my phone.

"I couldn't do that. What if it doesn't fit? The picture of Jason Mraz that is currently my background isn't saved in my phone. If this picture doesn't work I'll have to scour the internet for my old background."

But then I realized my greatest temptations come with this phone. That my steepest mistakes have stemmed from holding the internet in my pocket.

So I changed the background.

And I couldn't stop smiling.

Sorry, Satan. Chalk up another point for Christ.

I haven't been perfect, but it's harder to ignore that wrong doings are wrong when I'm looking in the face of Christ every instant I check the time.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Obedience brings blessings. Obedience with exactness brings miracles.

I have that desire to write something again, which is frustrating as I am rather tired and was excited to try this thing called "go to sleep before 1 AM," but...alas...

I went on a date last week, and we met up with a group of his friends to see a movie, and he warned me beforehand that one of them would more than likely try to hit on me.

He did. 

And in his process of hitting on me, he asked me if I'd been raised LDS. I told him yes.

"Is that why you believe it?"

"That's part of it."

He then asked me what the other part was, and I felt that awkward emptiness that comes when testifying of truth without having your whole heart in it; for a second I felt like I was saying what I needed to say, not what I felt to say. 

I don’t feel like I failed or anything; he wasn’t sincerely asking anyway so it’s not as if anything I said would have brought a chorus of angels raining down upon him, but I couldn’t help but obtain a notion of my inadequacy.

So I’m fixing it.

And I’m fixing it in the way my stream of consciousness wants me to, which is like this:

At Christmas time I had a guy ask me out. Let me rephrase that. At Christmas time I had a guy chat with me on Facebook, give me his number, text me until later than I wanted (I worked at six at the bakery the following morning), and in a roundabout way ask me out.

To coax me to talk longer after I quickly vetoed a midnight phone call with someone I’d only seen once in person on a day when I was quite preoccupied by others in my proximity, he asked me a series of questions. One of which was something like “Tell me five essential things to know about you.”

I typed in my love of Mraz, my writing and theatre and…

What else could I say?

I really didn’t have anything.

And then a voice, a voice I wasn’t used to hearing and was starting to vaguely notice in the recesses of my dusty, encumbered mind, said “Tell him you’re a Mormon.”

So I did. I told him I belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that I was very devoted to my religion.

From that moment I had a rush of feelings shooting through me, each little buzz reiterating the fact that I needed to talk about religion with him. I needed to explain where I stood. Because though for so long I’d been limply abiding by my religious precepts, it’s something I could never blatantly forsake.

He asked me to ask him questions.

I did. And one of them was his religious affiliations.

He told me he’d been raised LDS and still believed the principles and “understood” it more than most, but he just had a problem with organized religion.

I’ve seen that problem manifested in an older brother who was an entirely different person—and I say that quite literally—in his days of distance from “organized religion” verses his time now spent actively trying to follow Christ’s plan. I’ve seen the difference in countenance between one who claims to appreciate the gospel and “knows” it’s true and one who embodies the doctrine they know so well. I’ve lived the difference between striving to fulfill God’s purpose for me on earth verses laying in bed acknowledging that God is good, but that I don’t need to do anything about it.

I was still clawing my way out of the pit I’d spent over a year digging.

I wasn’t falling in it again.

And all the feelings twittering in my arms like miniscule bees affirmed that if I went on a date with that boy I’d never get out of that relationship, and I wouldn’t be at all where I needed to.

Because I’d met someone who made me realize that forever isn’t as far away as I anticipated in the midst of my numb roaming of the world. He made me realize I didn’t have time to waste, because that righteous boy who could take me to the temple could turn up any instant, and what would be my course if I wasn’t ready for him? Where would I be? What eternity of good would I miss from one instant not acknowledging my Maker or Savior, ignoring and forsaking that I have the ability to breathe, the agency to lay in bed, because of one plan I chose to follow and abide by? Why should I be blessed with someone like that when I can’t even manage to mumble a prayer in an uneventful or calm moment?

He asked me if the religion thing threw me off the idea of a date.

And I thought of that someone who woke me up, whose mere personable spirit carried so firmly the light of Christ that I couldn’t be around him without the buzzing in my arms to do good. To constantly do good.

I talk about this a lot and I’ve probably told the equivalent of everyone but him that he gave me my conversion moment. His lack of shyness with the gospel pulled me to the realization that all the beautiful things I’ve ever had in my life came from a God who dearly loved me, and that by not taking a moment to put effort toward His cause I was wasting my time—wasting my life. And that’s why He took the words away.

I remembered a time I’d felt blessed, peculiar and chosen, and how I wasn’t that person anymore. I wasn’t that adolescent constantly abuzz with what she’d read in scripture the night before; I wasn’t that girl who hoped on Christ. I was that girl who went through the motions, followed routine, and had bouts of panicked faith in high-stress moments. Not even literally almost dying, locked in a freezer, brought me to realize my error. No heartache or blessing brought me to the knowledge of my God; nothing humbled me into seeing it is through Him all is possible.

Until this boy.

And it all hit me as I lay in bed texting the non-religious gent, and I knew I couldn’t do that. I didn’t want to sound judgmental and prudish and “holier-than-thou” but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to say no to him. I had take a stand for once in my life, had to remember a tear-stained aunt telling me not to date anyone I didn’t plan on marrying because she’d never intended on marrying a Catholic, but she dated him anyway and fell in love and now what? I had to remember the petite paragraph in my patriarchal blessing that talks about a husband and the church. I had to remember those statements of rearing children in Christ, of that celestial marriage and eternity I want and deserve. I had started working so hard for it, and I couldn’t compromise.

So I didn’t.

And I won’t.

I told the boy I was sorry, but I couldn’t. I was flattered, but I couldn’t. I did the difficult thing and said no.

And blessing started pouring through.

And more are coming. I have to keep remembering that. I often think of that story President Monson tells about himself as a young bishop being in a stake meeting of sorts with the distinct impression to visit a ward member in the hospital but he continued to push it aside, seeing it inappropriate to get up and leave. And by the time he ran into the hospital he was informed by a nurse that the patient had been asking for him just before he died.

President Monson says he vowed at that moment to never again hesitate with spiritual promptings.

I’m trying. I really am. And sometimes they’re not what you want to hear, and sometimes they’re so difficult that I literally feel nauseous. But it’s worth it, I think, to count myself on the Lord’s side. To know that I’m chalking up points that He’ll repay in the fullest of fashions. It’s worth it to know I’m in cahoots with someone on the inside—and not just that, but with the person running the show. He has the cheat codes. He has the answers. He has the words and He has the strength. And maybe I’m still shaky at saying no when I need to and instantaneously saying yes when He asks. Maybe I’m still selfish and ignorant and stubborn.

But I’m trying not to be. And I think that’s the point. And maybe I haven’t tried other religions. Maybe I’ve only sat in one Baptist church meeting, and only went for my public speaking class. Maybe I haven’t tested other sources.

But I haven’t needed to, and that’s what I should have told the guy at the movie theatre. I haven’t needed to compare, because I’ve felt the fullness with which this gospel, this religion, brings me to Christ. I’ve watched His love envelop and change the very appearance of a person. I’ve watched sharp edges grow soft and harsh lines become smooth. I’ve felt His hand and I’ve felt His absence.

I believe you can feel Christ’s spirit anywhere. I believe the Holy Ghost helps those who haven’t received it; but I feel that spirit most with the Mormons. I feel that spirit most with the Plan of Salvation and the temple and the Book of Mormon. I don’t doubt God exists in other religions, I just know He dwells in mine.

And I’m thankful every day for being raised LDS. I’m thankful every day for being fully converted. I’m thankful to that friend for living his testimony in so full a way that it inspired me to don mine as a more public garment. I’m grateful God listens and loves me, that Christ set selfishness aside and atoned for my sins, pains, heartbreaks and concerns. I’m grateful I have a Redeemer to lean on, a crucified hand to hold, and a knowledge that we are eternal. And a desire to act upon it.

And you know what? It’s a testimony, so I’m ending it like one.

And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This is the Life

I keep wanting to post something but I'm not sure what I want it to be about exactly...

Often times I don't really plan what I say, it just stems from some place in my mind or my heart and somehow works its way into a vague poem that cohesively makes sense, or a short story that somehow has a moral.

That's kind of how I live my life. What happens happens; I don't really....try.

Take the piano for instance: I had a natural knack for it. My fingers were crafted to tickle the ivories, and they generally were good at it. My mind's connection to the muscle memory of playing a piece was very strong, and once I nailed it down I could whip it out at any moment at any speed.

I was good.

So I didn't practice.

Take my GPA for instance: I was kicked out of Honors English my ninth grade year because, being naturally gifted with words, I focused my energies on my weaknesses like science and math. So I didn't maintain the B grade level to stay in the class.

So they kicked me out. And other than one terrible science grade my ninth grade year, my lowest grades--college included--are in English courses.

Because I don't try.

I fell for the system of blogging because when it comes to writing I'm not one for revision. With few exceptions, when I write something I consider it completed and publishable in that exact moment. With a blog I can do that. I can write something and send it into the world seconds later. I don't have to think about it. I don't have to try.

Even now I don't know what exactly it is I'm getting at. I'm just writing.

That's why I hated literary criticism and analyzing poetry and what not. Because to me, people wrote the way they read, people wrote the way I wrote, which was the way I read. It's late so let me repeat that sentence in another way: I always imagined the author took as much thought to write as it took me to read. I don't know what's coming, I discover it the farther down the page I go. So, obviously, must the writer upon penning it.

I viewed writing as more of an archaeological work, slowly dusting off evidence by degrees, never truly aware of what was being uncovered until at last there lay a skeleton of sorts. And in that moment every little aspect prior to would make ultimate sense. The work would be completed, understood, and beautiful.

And for me, quite often, it works that way. Spoiler alert, the prose piece that was published in Weber's undergraduate literary book Metaphor was one of those instances where I sat and wrote, and as the end came I realized all the symbolism with the cold hands and a reserved, almost cold life, and the bright vivacious man warming my hands both metaphorically and literally.

That's one reason it's one of my favorite things I've written lately. Because it somehow resulted in so much meaning.

I don't plan my writing. Which is why it hurt when the words went away last year. For so long the one thing that had always been near effortless was suddenly a barren wasteland I couldn't cross. And I kept wanting to talk about it, write about it, but the words weren't there. There were never enough words, and they wouldn't file into place the way they used to, gathering together at the close to mean something more than the stammerings of a young adult.

I'm tired and sick of this post.

I keep coming back to the diner. I guess I'll write it. maybe the words know something I don't.

I watched her from my seat at the bar, feet dangling, one hand holding my chin up in the way I keep assuming is sexy; I don't know how I'd fare if someone told me it was otherwise. She didn't seem to notice me, and I didn't seem to mind. Not everyone you recognize needs to be verbally acknowledged. Sometimes it's enough to stare from a distance for a moment or so and then calmly return to the life you developed in their absence, knowing full well they would do the same. Some bridges don't burn, they just get overgrown, and you wonder what the trouble would be in moving the foliage and crossing once more. Sometimes you think to take the risk.

And sometimes you make it halfway and change your mind, allowing the underbrush to envelop the faded wood boards again, sucking that piece of your past back into the recesses of the forest of your mind where you now fail to tread.

But I didn't need that with her. I didn't need to contemplate the bridge. I knew her well enough, remembered her well enough, even with a bridge left dilapidated and forgone. I hadn't even realized I'd crossed the bridge, really. It had taken until seeing her to realize how far we'd come, my feet and I, how much distance lay between us and that once field of green. I had an image of myself, back then. A vision of perfection, what "adult" me would entail, and it took seeing her, across the greasy diner in the booth that should be hosed down, to realize I'd reached that moment. I'd become that vision, else why would I see myself as such a distant figure? Else why would I see what used to be me sitting in an awkward solitude by the window?

It hit me this weekend, and today, but so expediently on Friday, when suddenly every thread was cut. Suddenly all the safety nets that tethered me to that frightened chubby girl hiding in a Jason Mraz tee shirt were broken and dangling as memories from the four gray walls that suspended me. Suddenly my limitations were nothing. Suddenly the expanse before me was more vast and beautiful than it had ever been.

Suddenly I...was alive.

I forgot until this moment: there's a scene in Home Alone where Kevin yells out "I'm not afraid anymore! Do you hear me? I'm not afraid anymore!" (and then he sees the creepy shovel dragging neighbor and runs away screaming).

But my life has reached that moment. The Macaulay Culkin in my mind keeps yelling "I'm not afraid anymore! Do you hear me? I'm not afraid anymore!" and I can't help but feel it with each breath. It's invigorating, this concept of being alive. This ability to share what's on my mind with anyone nearby, not questioning how they'll interpret what I'm saying, but simply saying it as though they've known me for ages. It's not caring if my odd dancing scares boys away, but embracing that this is how I'm happy in a movement setting. It's not chickening out when the attractive mid-twenties man from corporate talks to you briefly and not shying away from asking if he's single. It's taking the moment you have and making the best of it. It's not waiting for the "next time" that won't happen or won't happen the same way. It's being grateful for all my big mistakes as much as I am for all the little blessings, because each makes me what I am. It's knowing there's someone out there who will accept all of me, and that hiding it won't keep hurt from happening. It's understanding that hurt happens, that love isn't right the first time, that people can say things they possibly mean and everything can look good on paper, but when it comes down to it it just doesn't work.

It's believing that something will work. It's hoping that I can have all I want and deserve in this lifetime, that God won't let me be the crazy rat lady because I think varmints are adorable and I'm allergic to cats. It's throwing caution to the wind. It's living the way he does, maybe not exactly, but enough to feel the breeze. It's accepting what I am and embracing what I want, and greeting the universe with this understanding, and paying it forward and keeping from bottling it up. It's about being present and in the now and ready for destiny, even if it's just so I can make another mistake.

It's making mistakes and taking truths from the ashes of my expectations. It's moving forward, living up, making mountains.

Sometimes songs don't directly apply unless you're me. But I love this song so I'm embedding it anyway.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

This Is What I Look Like Today

Sometimes I think that if I was the only girl around you'd have no trouble in choosing me.

I guess I forget that the beauty in being chosen is that, to the person who chose you, you're the only one that matters. Regardless how many girls are around.


Excuse me for wanting more from this
Than a secret kiss
And dial tones.


I imagine you like the cloud of melancholy from every cliche cartoon. The ones that hover overhead or slightly to the side, constantly contributing to the woebegone atmosphere of the victim. I always thought that if the cloud would just go away and stop raining and reminding them of their discontent that they could get over it, move on, happy up.

But they always lingered. They always hovered just close enough; and that was the point. Out of sight out of mind. Perhaps. But even having stuffed you in the cardboard box I emptied yesterday, along with the residue of dust and fragments of lint carried by a season occupying space, even having wedged you in the corner under my dresser beside the stack of notebooks from junior high I can't bare to part with because some day I'll take the time to read the evolution of my literary tactics, even in the dark garnished in mistrust and seclusion you manage to materialize as a cloud. Even out of sight you find a way to my mind. Even, dehydrating in the dust, you find a way to vaporize and congeal into the little black rain cloud hovering over my honey tree.

I suppose it's my own fault. I doubt you sit across town in your car with binoculars trained on my window with the shade drawn and lamplight spilling out thinking to yourself memories to telegraph to me like Casper through the electrical lines. I doubt you're consciously the cause of this.

But this is the trouble, the trouble I've hit with celebrities and all of the "for sure" "romances" I've hitherto encountered: I've internalized you. I've taken all I know, all you shared, all the moments between us, all my overly optimistic hopes, and constructed an understanding of you in my heart. Enough so that you live there. You breathe there. You occupy space there and leave candy wrappers and dirty laundry there. You've moved in. I moved you in. I unpacked your dufflebag of video games and the boxes with the picture frames and posters and the bracelet you thought you lost. I helped you set up camp and then sheltered you in with a lean-to that eventually became a hope house because I didn't have the funding to build above the ground. And perhaps I sheepishly thought you'd stick around long enough for this to become something, for me to have causation to purchase the lumber and construct a castle where you could wander the airy halls and sing all the songs I know only well enough to recognize.

And in reality you are in your car, driving to some date with someone else, or leaving work or buying a pizza. You have no mind for me, you take no thought for me. And that's why it's not awkward for you. To you our relationship is what you apply to it, and as you apply nothing more than the occasional eye contact and half-hearted smile, there is nothing between us. Nothing to get in the way of your plans and ambitions, nothing to hinder your pursuit of everyone else of the female gender.

And that's the case, outside.

But I internalized you. I've taken you to heart.

So I'm shadowed by a cloud.

And it's been raining a lot today.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Sermon of Sorts

It was my senior year of high school. I was seated next to my friend Rachael in our dreaded AP Lit class. We'd been reading Albert Camus' The Stranger (I think it was one of the few assigned books I actually read in its entirety).

In essence, the book is taken from an existentialist perspective; Meursault (it's French, ps) sees life as meaningless--he does not mourn his mother's death, he does not feel anything toward the woman he "loves", and he kills a man in cold blood without so much as batting an eye.

I consider myself a religious person. To the extent that when I watch movies of heightened stress/anxiety/suspense, having placed myself in full empathy with the characters as my actor instinct privies me to do, I find myself willing them to pray for help or protection or whatever it may be. One example that always stands out also took place my senior year in my US Government class when we watched the movie World Trade Center, which follows a few cops the day of 9/11 who were buried in the rubble of the crash. One of them is particularly wedged under concrete, and I remember the entire time watching it I had my fingers pressed to my mouth inwardly screaming "Somebody say a prayer already! Why aren't you praying?!"

Because that's my gut reaction.

So it's interesting that when Rachael said how stupid of a concept existentialism seemed, for me to respond that if I didn't have my religious believes, I'd be behind it.

For some reason, if I didn't have a sure thing to hope on, hoping on an absence of hope would almost be just as...comforting.

I was talking with a friend yesterday who's been surrounded by Mormon culture all her life, but she expressed to me that she's only ever fully felt comfortable in her friend's non-denominational Christian church. She went on to explain that's why she doesn't believe there's only one true religion, because you can feel that spirit anywhere.

I fumbled for a moment; I've been perfectly fine sharing every detail of my life with this friend, and she happened to become more present in my life at the same time I started focusing more specifically on my religion--but something has always held me tentative from sharing fully religious statements, though she knows more of my mission serving dilemma than most. I suppose it's because I respect her so much and she's so studious and smarter than me and I'm worried....I guess I'm worried of being logicked out of it.

But I did respond, saying I agree you can feel that spirit anywhere, and that I have felt it in places not specifically Mormon, and then referenced how a few months back the movie Valentines Day actually increased my testimony of God's wisdom, understanding, and plan (in essence because the movie shows how everyone's stories effect everyone else's in just that one small day, and how God orchestrates things like that both with people and books and music on an hourly level). But I closed sheepishly that I do believe there is only one true religion.

And as the conversation was interrupted there and I was left to myself for a moment, I realized...

One true religion is always how they say it. We are the one true religion. But that sounds the way my friend has been taking it: that all others are wrong. And I thought of things I could have said or would have gone on to say had conversation continued, and my next thought was that teaching of Christ brings the spirit. There is truth in Christ and the spirit manifests truth. I believe you can feel that truth, that spirit, in thousands of places. But it's with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that I feel it the most.

It's not so much one true religion as it is one complete religion.

I know this post is really scatter-brained, but I just felt like saying it.

Life is meaningless without knowing where we're going. Logically, existentialism makes sense to me. But I know where I'm going, I know where I want to be, and I have a way to get there, a hope to find it.

If this makes any sense.

Maybe I should have just stuck with cleaning my room.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Burning Bridges

Someone broke my glasses when I wasn't looking.
Which is a feat, as they were perched upon my face.
The rose colored lens were popped out and discarded
And reality came with a sharp focused harshness
That I had no capacity to fathom,
For to my eyes all was still filtered rose.
To my perception all was still pristine.
Or all should have been.
I expected to be as ever;
But the lenses were gone,
Leaving me with the illusion an illusion was still maintained.

And that's why it hurt.
That's why it stung with confusion
And misconstrued belief.
That's why the picture stopped making sense.

Why do we hold this sand?
Why do we expect to lose not an ounce?
Why do we convince our minds to see so clearly
What is so clearly wrong
Until the time comes
When the sand has dripped too thin
To ignore it has changed,
And the view so out of context
That it comes to light the lenses went missing long ago?
I started seeing reality,
And interpreted it through rose tinted ideals
That no longer applied.

The time had changed.
The sand had fallen.
I can't keep believing this trick of the eye.
If they ask, I'm okay now.
If they ask, I understand.
It took time to set in this goodbye.


This is another of those poems that I fear only makes sense to me because I...I know what I'm trying to say.

So let me take another route:

I woke up last night. In a metaphorical sense, meaning the lightbulb came on and I understood. I wasn't in that dark clouded haze I must have been spinning through leading up to that moment, because suddenly all was illuminated and bright in a way unlike before. And I realized my problem with the circumstance was that I wasn't looking at it with a present eye. I wasn't beholding it as it was unfolding. I was filtering it to a thing of beauty, shifting it through rose colored glasses. Because there was a time when my ideal, my image in rose, was the reality. There was a time when the rose was truth. But I failed to recognize the change, failed to determine the falling away, and continued to pass reality through the rose, mystified and destroyed that it didn't fit anymore. That somehow the way things were going wasn't the way I could see, wasn't as softly tinted and peaceful. Suddenly reality wasn't rose.

But my perception of it was.

Naivety? Ignorance? Synonyms of the feeling.

I didn't evolve with my surrounds, is what I suppose I'm getting at here. From the starting gate I saw rose and in truth it was rose, but as we pressed on and the color changed to my surrounding circumstance, I remained plateaued on rose. I stayed stagnant with a fluxing world. To call back an old metaphor, I expected the painting to stay the same as my vantage point changed, expected the dimensions to be as sure and strong as they had been headlong.

And once I realized the world wasn't rose anymore, once I stopped trying to wedge reality through a lens no longer made to fit it, I was at peace. Almost instantaneously.

I mean, if I think about it and hash it out and pull at all the details to support the rose hypothesis, I start to break down and wallow in this bygone confusion and... Those rose moments were an island of goodness in an ocean of diarrhea  The island, the hiccup of hope, doesn't change what life in this space had fundamentally become.

I realized there was no need to be jealous or bitter or depressed that it was someone else and not me. It hadn't been me for a long time, and if I'd been tenacious enough to take the glasses off sooner I would have seen that.

As I said of it in my journal, "It's time to officially close the case and lock the file, to remember it but not riffle through it and dwell on a past hope."

Desire can cause heart attacks. Desire, it won't bring you back.

But you don't have to worry anymore. The glasses are gone; I see truth as truth and I'm strangely accepting of it. We're still good.

Now to move forward, into the dark of tomorrow.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I'd Like to Say We've Tasted Love

One thing I've come to notice is how life isn't what you expect. Meaning that a lot of the benefits/realizations/friendships I've received have come from moments when I didn't expect anything of the type to take place.

I could go with the laundry list, but I think I'll stick with what's relevant this instant.

You see, when my old pal Ellen (not the one with the talk show, though she is planning on chopping her hair off) invited me down to her home for the day, I was expecting to trade war stories of my single life and her newly married life. I was expecting to rehash and revamp our friendship. I was expecting to get to know her husband a bit more.

I wasn't expecting what I got.

(Yes, I got all that I expected, but there was something else. And it went like this.)

Ellen is one of two long time good friends who are married, and the only one I have "hung out with" since the name-change. Tonight was my first experience as the third wheel to a married couple; it wasn't awkward, that's not what I'm saying. I just...

There's something different about love bonded by marriage when it's not your grandparents or you parents or the spunky young couple that moved into the ward when you were thirteen. There's something different about seeing a peer--someone you passed notes to in Junior High, someone who went to your first Jason Mraz concert with you (and the Jonas Brothers...), someone who fangirled over the same low-level boyband that never got off the ground--there's something different when someone who was once like you is...


I guess I just never really realized what marriage--and love--looked like until this late afternoon, in the backseat watching them out of the corner of my eye interact. I'm not from a broken home: I've had good models on what a successful relationship is, but it took my parents some 27 years to get where they are. Ellen and Sean are at seven months (in two days). This is what those 27 years looks like at the starting gate. This is what it would look like for me.

And I realized I haven't had that. I haven't had that flawless comfort and banter, that connection that still buzzes in the dead air between the passenger seat and the driver's. I haven't been linked like that. And it's not a thing that magically happens when an I Do is spoken or whatever it is that takes place at the alter in the temple takes place. I'm sure that helps, but the link comes before that. The love comes before that.

And as much as I've wanted it and been willing to give it, as much as I've tried to make it happen, I haven't had that yet.

And that's what I needed today for. That's why I had to gird up my little car and head into the valley. That's why Ellen invited me. That's what I needed to get that I didn't expect.

Every "relationship" I've had hasn't been that, not yet. And it doesn't mean I'm in the wrong or failing. It's just suddenly I'm aware there's more to be looking for than I have been, and that yes love is hard, but it doesn't have to be as difficult as I'm making it. It doesn't have to hurt as much as I convince myself it needs to. When it's right I should be happy; without having to talk myself into it. If it hurts, if it feels as disgusting as it does right now then it's time to walk away.

It's safe to walk away, knowing that the day will come when I arrive somewhere expecting to order an ice cream or interview for a job or whatever it is, and I'll walk away with something else. I'll walk away with someone else who won't have to hesitate in taking a risk and chasing me and who wants to include me in his life and surround himself in mine, who will have the faith in what he feels and the trust that God wouldn't let him make such a drastically wrong decision, but that sometimes we have to make a choice before He nods His head or guides our eyes in the right path. Sometimes it takes the exercising of our flawed reasoning to activate the divine hand of our Heavenly Father; sometimes we have to take that blind step in the dark and exert our efforts before He intercedes His. And someday, somewhere, there will be someone who realizes all of this in as narrow of a window as I do, and together we'll see more clearly. And together we'll progress.

And I guess that's love. And that's what I'm looking for.