Monday, December 7, 2009

Tupac Teaches Us

Tupac teaches us once again. I was going through the list of poems that I have in my collection and came across this one. I felt it was too applicable to my previous post to leave out of my blog. Let's see what Tupac has to say about crying:

I Cry

Sometimes when I'm alone

I Cry,

Cause I am on my own.

The tears I cry are bitter and warm.

They flow with life but take no form

I Cry because my heart is torn.

I find it difficult to carry on.

If I had an ear to confide in,

I would cry among my treasured friend,

but who do you know that stops that long,

to help another carry on.

The world moves fast and it would rather pass by.

Than to stop and see what makes one cry,

so painful and sad.

And sometimes...

I Cry

and no one cares about why.

Tupac Shakur

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Biology Extra Credit

I made this movie for extra credit in my Biology class. The following clip is definitely not suitable for all audiences:


video

I hope you had as much fun watching it as I had cutting it. And yes, the word vagina was used in this production. Grow up.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Crying Shame

Wasn't Thanksgiving great? The first thing I have been telling people who have been asking, "How was your break?" is:

"
I was in a house with 6 kids under the age of 6.
It was interesting."

Notice, I choose not to say anything negative about the experience, because ultimately, it was not a negative experience. It was, in all reality, just interesting. I got to see some good parenting, some stern parenting, and learn a little bit more about myself as an uncle to 6 crazy kids. More than anything, being so long around nieces and nephews prompts a little Gospel thought and life consideration.

Kids cry. They do. They cry and they shout, and they scream while they do both. I got to observe this the past week. Another interesting observation I was able to make this week came during a saturday trip to the movie theaters with my parents. We saw a stop-time animation movie, in which the eyes of the dolls playing characters would tear (like "cry") up at certain points in the plot where I didn't necessarily find crying necessary or un-restrainable.

The question may be a bit obtuse of me, however I couldn't help but think:

What are the appropriate times/situations/feelings for crying?

If I were teaching a child about how or when to cry, how would I do it? Would simple sadness be worthy of tears? Would joy or loss be reason to cry? When is it appropriate to express oneself through the art of secreting saline solutions out of ducts in one's face?

I think sometimes how sad it is that I hardly cry anymore. I am prone to think that it's because I wasted so many tears on such trivial matters when I was younger. For instance, I had to pee really bad but could not locate a bathroom in time. I did not want to eat peas or any sort of mushy vegetables, but had to choke them down regardless. I fell and bumped my knee and cried out of surprise rather than actual pain. I played a huge role in losing a crucial game for me and my teammates on my high school baseball team.

Then I think of profound experiences in life. Feeling the Spirit in abundance. Leaving Parents and Siblings for a long time. Losing a grandparent. Losing a favorite cousin. I think these moments are the ones worthy of tears.

I think I would have my kids save their trivial tears so they could weep in moments when weeping was really the only thing left to do. I think I will try and teach them that, if teaching that is even really possible to teach.

I love when Elder Bednar quoted from a speech by Marvin J. Ashton:

"In his message Elder Ashton detailed and described a number of less conspicuous spiritual gifts—attributes and abilities that many of us might not have considered being spiritual gifts. For example, Elder Ashton highlighted the gifts of asking; of listening; of hearing and using a still, small voice; of being able to weep; of avoiding contention; of being agreeable; of avoiding vain repetition; of seeking that which is righteous; of looking to God for guidance; of being a disciple; of caring for others; of being able to ponder; of bearing mighty testimony; and of receiving the Holy Ghost."

Which times warrant tears?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dodged a Bullet

I just found myself trying to think up some very clever alternatives to my current blog title. I dodged a close one there. To think I could have a cheezy blog title like, "Blog or die!", or "The Story of my Life", or "This is me." Just ridiculous.

I noticed that no new blog posts have popped up recently in the "New Blog Posts" window that lets me see the going-ons in other people's blogs. So i decided to plant while waiting for the shortage to pass. I had a couple interesting experiences last week that I've been meaning to blog about anyway.

Last week I was thinking pretty seriously about receiving promptings (or lack of) and what my real priorities should be, ie. what is really important. It was more of an application question. I know that living the Gospel is the foundation of life, but what roles should I be fulfilling in life? I was driving to Sandy last Friday to babysit Ava and Spencer with these thoughts in mind. As I pulled off the freeway into Sandy, my eye caught a humble-looking cemetery and I felt the subtle prompting to stop and look around. So I pulled off the street somewhat surprised and walked into the cemetery. I was kind of just walking around, looking around, before I noticed a pattern on the headstones. Each headstone had the deceased person's name, the years in which they lived their life, and another interesting word underneath both distinctions. Either the word "Mother" or "Father". I had a quietly profound spiritual experience there in the empty cemetery looking at a headstone and realizing the importance of individuality, the blessing of the short life we live, and the happiness of the family experience. The only thing left of those people whose lives had ended was a slab of rock with the three distinctions that showed the simple blessings of life.

After having my moment of realization and reflection, I then proceeded to the babysitting appointment. It was interesting to receive so much positive instruction of the nature of family, and then so much potentially negative instruction on the actuality of the situation!

I'm obviously kidding. Although my first night of babysitting was hectic (without mentioning details) I thoroughly enjoyed it. Afterall, it's really the only important thing there is to do.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blue, Twenty-three, On the arm, Two Shots

Last Night was my first experience officiating a Provo City League Basketball game. I wrote in a text message after the game to someone, "Had I been an actual cupcake, the crowd and players would have literally eaten me alive, thankfully due to my not being a cupcake, they only did so figuratively." I arrived at Dixon Middle school at 250 N 700 E at six p.m. for a brief pre-game training review. We covered topics like: positioning, making a call, reporting a foul, and other attention-worthy fundamentals. I watched my co-workers officiate 2 games before I finally got my chance to show the basketball world what was right and what was wrong. I went in confident.

All went awry at the tipoff. I was given the "trail official" spot, which means I follow the play and am responsible for the calls above the key and around the arch. But before the game begins, the official makes the toss. I said, "Let's keep the game clean and have some fun" in my best official's voice--thank goodness my voice did not decide to crack at this point. As I went to toss the ball up, I rediscovered how hard it is to toss a ball directly vertical. The players jumped simultaneously up towards the ball, only to discover I had thrown it 3 feet to the left on accident. Mistake 1. I got a couple chuckles from the players and hisses from the stands.

The game proceeded at a quick pace and I often found my proverbial shorts around my ankles every time I wanted to call a foul. I was too slow. After the first possession of the game, the defensive player turned to me after I missed a questionable foul call and yelled, "Yo ref, get yer' eyes in the game. That'sa foul!" I shook my head with authority as my supervisor yelled from the stands, "That's a foul, you've got to call that!"

My favorite point of the game came near the end of the second half. The ball was pushed up court quickly and the offensive player was dribbling when the defensive player stepped in front of him and acted like the offensive player ran into him (a charge for all those who know what that means), but I called a blocking foul on the defensive player. The foul happened right in front of the defensive team's stands. They went into an uproar and I got my first real taste of collective hatred. I reported the foul to the scorekeeper and my supervisor came up to me at a break and said, "That was an awesome call, I thought you would get it wrong and call charging, for sure. Good work."

It's the little things that count.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Deeply Mistaken.

Do you ever have those moments where you spend a solid 10-15 seconds staring in the fridge looking for the sour cream but conclude that the sour cream supply has been exhausted by a sibling? Then as you start your search for yogurt, your eyes focus and you see the sour cream container that had been sitting on the shelf at eye level the entire time? I had a spiritual "sour cream" moment this past weekend.
I was so proud of my last post--thinking that I was encroaching upon a deeper way of living. The truth is, life is kind of boring right now. I've got no struggles, no huge looming questions, no real abnormal experiences. I think sometimes when life is running smoothly, we feel the need to over-analyze and spend too much time "looking past the mark." I was so busy looking past the mark, that I couldn't see the 'sour cream'. The overwhelming message I gleaned from church meetings and extra-church meetings this weekend, was the beauty of a simple life spent in service. "The love of God transforms menial tasks into extraordinary acts of service." Someone said that during general conference.

There is no sense in breathing deeper, if that breath won't help you help someone else. In my new calling, I get to sit back in meetings and listen to what other people are doing/have done to: observe others, take note of their needs, and then make plans to fulfill those needs. There are great examples of people living lives deep in the service and care of others. I keep forgetting that important purpose in life.


Another eye opener this weekend was a new little addition to the Williams family--Charlotte. I think the purpose of life is expressed in birth. We go through pain to give life to another person. The Savior went through pain to give all men the chance at eternal life. We go through physical/mental/spiritual pain to give others an easier way in life. We bear children in pain (right Christina?) so that they may begin their life of abundance. The purpose of living is to give life to all we meet.


Mother Theresa, I know the promise of this life.

It's right before my face, I was just looking too hard and couldn't see it..I'm glad that my view finally focused.

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 1 Jn. 2:25

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oh What Is This Living?


Life is a promise; fulfill it.
Mother Theresa


I have thought about this quote a lot recently. What does she mean? Mother T, what do you mean? I suppose I've thought about it a lot, because I feel I'm not living life as deeply as I know it can be lived. Some people experience a whole array of human emotions with such vibrancy and depth, that I feel like I've been left on the surface while my dive-buddies are busy exploring the great barrier reefs of the soul!

How is life a promise? What is promised to us as a result of life? Worse yet, how can I fulfill my end of the promise?

A promise is a declaration or assurance that a certain thing will happen. Life is a declaration! An assurance that if we strive to become completely alive, things will happen. Things happening are never bad, right? Even when bad things happen, good lessons can be gleaned. There would be nothing more distressing than a life where nothing ever happened.

I think M.T. means here that we were promised that things would happen, but it is our responsibility to use those things to wake us up from the dreams of our shallow realities. Nothing would be more frustrating than "doggie-paddling" in the greatest oceans of the world, knowing that undiscovered wonders lay mere feet beneath you. So it can be with life, we skim the surface without diving below and seeing the wonders. To see more clearly, to feel more deeply, and to live more consciously. I love this quote from Thoreau:

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn."

There is always a way to experience life more deeply. There always exists a frame of mind that will bring us closer to God, our fellow man, and our own true self. The sun rises and the sun falls, and often we live out a day as if all there were to do was shop, walk, and eat on time. Things will happen, but what purpose will I fulfill and will I help another person to fulfill their promise to life? Life has promised so many great things! Why do I waste it by not breathing in deeper, walking a little slower, and looking a little longer? Live deep.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Purse and Lots of Tush

I realize that most posts concern my experiences with the outside world and my man-bag, but I need to add one more--perhaps a concluding experiencing. The cap on the man "purse" debate. I inadvertently got the deciding vote the other day.

I made a late night run to Sports Authority last week--I had to pick up some soccer shin guards and a whiffle ball. I picked out the cheapest shin guards and my favorite half-slitted Whiffle Ball, Inc. whiffle ball and headed to the cashier. I waited in line for a few minutes and had a chance to observe the man working behind the register. First, he was giving advice about the proper upkeep of hiking boots. Next, he was counseling the following customer on the advantages of "ear-candy" earbuds in contrast with apple earphones. I had ample time to notice and measure the amount of flamboyance with which the man made transactions and the overall vivacity he exhibited with his male customers. I won't say what my conclusion was, for that would be a bold critique and unfair judgement, but I dare say the man knew his way around in the world of fashion and glamour. As I checked out, I was enjoying a conversation about whiffle ball and warranty plans with my questionable, new cashier-friend as I saw his eyes turn to my bag. Now you understand, there are moments in life when we pre-eminently realize something is about to happen. I had seen it happen often, and recently. I am well aware of and familiar with the precursors to the ensuing comment. His eyes centered on my bag, then shot up to the left in sudden deep thought, and his focus settled once again on me before remarking, "Nice man-purse." I politely nodded my head in subtle rebuke, grabbed my purchased items, and made a move for the door before I heard him correct himself, saying, "Oh wait, what am I saying, that isn't a purse--it's a man bag." He flapped his wrist goodbye at me as I nearly skipped out the door. If there ever were an expert of the terminology of bags and purses, I had just met him, and he had confirmed my long-defended position. Thank you gay man.


Another experience that has provoked some thought was my seeing the movie The Time Traveler's Wife. Overall, I thought it was well done (although the fact that it was a Focus Features studio production did affect my bias). The adaptation, I heard, was shaky, but it was filled with enough of Eric Bana's and Rachel McAdam's tushies that the overall experience was uplifting. The plot/movie prompted some good thoughts, although I could have done without the backside smorgasbord. I don't have much else to say about the experience except that I have recently enjoyed asking people if they have seen the movie and then making a comment including the word "tushy" somehow. Language and conversation can get pretty boring at times if you don't bring words like "tushy" into your constant mix of verbs and nouns. Not to mention, by the way, the film began with the song Es ist ein Ros entsprungen--one of the most beloved German Christmas hymns. I was pleasantly surprised and haven't stopped whistling it since leaving the theater.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

I am a single man---there are no other men attached to me.

I am feeling somewhat contemplative and introspective right now, so I suppose it's a good time for a blog entry.

I was in Smiths (grocery store) the other day and had an interesting experience. I was in the "breakfast foods" isle deciding whether to go with Cherrios, Chex, or Crispix this week. As I was nearing a decision, two different pairs of couples came from opposite ends of the isle and I was privy to a brief session of eavesdropping. Couple 1 approached from my right, your left, and were also contemplating their cereal choices this week. Their conversation went somewhat as follows:

Husband: "uh, dear, what do you think about Cap'n Crunch this week?"
Wife: "We've had this conversation before, we can't afford it."
Husband: "Well... honey, it really isn't too much more expensive."
Wife: "Here, we'll get corn flakes. You like corn flakes, don't you?"
Husband: "I really think we should get Cap'n Crunch this week."
Wife: "We're not getting it, we can't afford it."
Husband: "I'm getting it, I can afford it."
Wife: "Fine."
Husband: "Fine."

My normally uplifting shopping-mood was brought even lower after Couple 2 made their entrance:

Wife: "... and then me and Karen started walking to my Biology class, but you know what, I realized my class had been CANCELLED that day, and well anyway..."
Husband: "Oh really... great... yeah, that's weird..."
Wife: "... but then we sat down and just talked about everything, I mean EVERYTHING. It was so great. Have you ever noticed how shy Karen is? Anyway, I told her all about the time..."
Husband: "Wow, that's... yeah. Great. Wonderful. Oh yeah, perfect..."
Wife: "... I just love coming shopping and getting to pick out all the different things we eat every week. It's really the highlight of my week, I mean, isn't it great to just have so much to choose from. They really do a great job of stocking this place..."
Husband: "Oh... yeah, uh huh. You know it..."

As both couples finished up their business in the breakfast foods isle, I couldn't help but pause amongst the pop-tarts and granola and think a little bit about relationships. What constitutes a good relationship? Why are two people attracted to one another? What does it mean when two people click? When you "click" with someone... what's the guarantee that it will stay that way forever? I'm not saying this is an "either/or" argument here. There are plenty of couples 3, 4, 5 etc. on to infinity. But what's the guarantee that I won't end up, to some degree, like people who don't get along with their spouses?

Perhaps the grocery store is the place of broken marriages and "nothing fights" over jelly. Maybe the grocery store is the wrong place to learn about relationships, but I think the breakfast isle is OK for a moment to step back and think about what one wants from life. I am pretty OK with where I'm at right now. I am a lone man, choosing his path, and eating cereal. I chose all three kinds, by the way. The crispix were finished off yesterday.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Is it a purse?"

I have been out of the blogging world too long. Everyone has 3 or 4 new posts that I haven't read yet (except for Hilary who got post-happy and seems to be blogging every 3 or 4 seconds--love ya sis). I deleted my facebook and have set goals to slowly wean myself off poor texting habits, and have found a refreshingly simple life to lead. I feel so disconnected from the social world, and so in touch with reality. A few things have happened since my last entry into blogspot, so I'll bring you up to speed:

First, I did a report on Mozart's "The Magic Flute", which changed my life. I discovered that I love all things opera. I owe it all to Jasie Stokes--my humanities inspiration. Jasie, I hope you read this. The Magic Flute is a ballad opera, meaning it is half sung, and half spoken. There is a scene in the opera between Papageno and Papagena--who are obviously soul mates. They meet after having been under the assumption that they would never see each other again. If there is such a thing as love in the world, I hope I find someone who I can have this kind of love with. Here is a clip from the scene(for a more extensive clip, go here):
video
They are singing about having tons and tons and tons of babies--but in the most sincere and lovely way. It makes me smile each and every time I watch it. I've been known to laugh in the library while viewing it. The point of opera is not to take everything at face value, the point is to see the vision of the piece and fill in the inadequacies caused by the difficulty of the medium. Imagine the love!

Other events of significance this week were General Conference and Mission Reunion. The mission reunion was awkward but oddly fun. I felt like I was saying, "hey, wow, it's you! how have you been? OK, bye, see you later" over and over again. I feel like adulthood is like having the replay button stuck, but being too lazy to pull it back out and progress with the normal sequence of things. It is so much easier to get stuck in the same conversations and situations.

General Conference was great for so many reasons. I spent the weekend at the Sheffield's home (eating good food, enjoying good company, and observing a good family) and spent 2 sessions at the conference center in Salt Lake. I searched out a German sister missionary on Temple Square and spoke with her for a little while. Conference was great, and I enjoyed the eloquent sermons of Elders Uchtdorf and Bednar. Talk about beautiful rhetoric.

The only disappointment of the weekend came as trouble arose around my veritable "man-bag" with the Conference Center security staff. I entered the double wide doors of the conference center saturday evening for Priesthood Session and was greeted by a friendly, old man at the security checkpoint. I motioned to my bag, and he made the gesture for me to give him the satchel. I handed it over and he said, "What do you have in your purse?" I replied "nothing", and was busy explaining that it was a sidebag, when he passed it to the next lady in security who exclaimed, "Oh my, this is a lovely purse, where'd you get it?" I once again started to clarify, but was interrupted as the last lady in the checkout line received the bag from the previous lady and subsequently handed it back to me, while lamenting, "You don't see many purses like this anymore." It was like a gatling gun of inadvertent gender-insults.
If the abuse had stopped there, wounds would have healed and confidence persevered. On Sunday however, a friend and I returned to the conference center for the culminating Sunday afternoon session. Upon reaching the security checkpoint at a new door, with new personnel, I was ready with rebuttals for any verbose "purse" comments. Unfortunately for my confidence, I heard a lady screaming to the patrons in line, "No bags through these doors. Switch lines!" I was so close to the door that I figured I would smooth talk my way in. I got to the front, the guy looked at my bag and I asked, "Can you make an exception for me?" He seemed to think for a second and smugly replied, "We can't take any bags here. But purses are allowed." He said, "If it is a purse, it's allowed in." A beat. He continued, "Is it a purse?" You'll note my internal battle at this point. I said, "It's a purse. Let me in." The bag went through the line, the high school boys laughed and I was on my way to enjoy a spiritually uplifting session of conference on my newfound humble footing.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Child's Prayer

Ok ok, I don't want to sound super cheezy...but I recently had a spiritual experience and figured I would blog about it.

I was thinking about a recent conversation I had about returning home from a mission and how life isn't quite so meaningful, and how personal progress seems an insurmountable task. I was thinking about the high goals I had set for my personal progression and good desires. I was also thinking tonight about a new little nephew I have, and what that little boy has lying ahead of him in his life. I was thinking about these things as I went running tonight.

I felt very overwhelmed--like all the goals I had set and every good intention I'd had, were just poorly laid bricks in a poorly-constructed "road of life." I paused from my run, laid down on a parcel of grass, and waited as these kinds of thoughts settled down next to me.

It may not seem like a huge revelation (but honestly, the good revelations are the ones that open our eyes when they're too tightly shut to see at midday) but after uttering a prayer, I had the calming reassurance that it wasn't all dependent upon me. I learned a little something about the Atonement tonight. I relearned the exclamation of the Savior to "take [His] yoke upon" me. Regardless of the burdens and doubts (and inadequacies), the Atonement of Christ exists as the end of all suffering.

With General Conference coming up, I'll end with a quote from Elder J. Reuben Clark and others:
"So as I conceive it, we must stand adamant for the doctrine of the atonement of Jesus the Christ, for the divinity of his conception, for his sinless life, and for, shall I say, the divinity of his death, his voluntary surrender of life. He was not killed, he gave up his life. It is our mission, perhaps the most fundamental purpose of our work, to bear constant testimony of Jesus the Christ. We must never permit to enter into our thoughts and certainly not into our teachings, the idea that he was merely a great teacher, a great philosopher, the builder of a great system of ethics. It is our duty, day after day, year in and year out, always to declare that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ who brought redemption to the world and to all the inhabitants thereof."

"Man unquestionably has impressive powers... But after all our obedience and good works, we cannot be saved from the effects of our sins without the grace extended by the atonement of Jesus Christ... Man cannot earn his own salvation."
--Dallin H. Oaks

"This life is not so much a time for getting and accumulating as it is a time for giving and becoming. Mortality is the battlefield upon which justice and mercy meet. But they need not meet as adversaries, for they are reconciled in the Atonement of Jesus Christ for all who wisely use Today."
--Lance B. Wickman

"Each of us will taste the bitter ashes of life, from sin and neglect to sorrow and disappointment. But the atonement of Christ can lift us up in beauty from our ashes on the wings of a sure promise of immortality and eternal life. He will thus lift us up, not only at the end of life, but in each day of our lives."
--Bruce C. Hafen

Sometimes laying alone in the dark on a patch of grass can be the perfect place to be taught that we are never alone, and that God provides us that little bit of knowledge we need when overwhelming thoughts threaten to settle down next to us and stay awhile.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Utah State Fair

I paid $8 last night to enter a big grass field, covered all over by booths and attractions that costed additional money: fairground grass had never been so expensive.

I saw some of the weirdest, saddest things last night. First, there was the 'smallest woman in the world' from Haiti. They kept her in this half-box as people filed through and just looked at her. I immediately had regrets for entering the attraction as I saw the sad, lonely look on her. How barbaric! Aside from this little woman, there were billboards for: "The 5-legged sheep", "The Beautiful Head of A Woman on the Ugly Body of a Snake", "The 2-Snouted Cow". The whole carnival atmosphere just reminds me of one of those old disney movies, that teach young people some morally prolific lesson (ex:Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride).

We walked through the 'tent of informercials' (as I'll call it) where there were old men selling: knives, George Foreman Grills ®, Hair Removal Kits, and my personal favorite, 'The Super Shammy'. They old guy with the super shammy, poured an entire bottle of root beer on a piece of carpet, and cleaned it all up with a shammy! Incredible. If it hadn't cost $15 for a 2x2 square of the stuff, I might have splurged.

We also rode a ride called the Zipper, which was designed to make your 'insides' want to be 'outsides' and vice versa. Not only was it like a miniature ferris wheel, circulating around a central point, each individual cart also spun at torrent speeds. It was a highlight of the night.

While I was at the Carnival, though, I thought about the lives of the people who travelled and worked at the Carnival. I mean, I entered this insane, freakish world for a night to somewhat escape reality and feel alien for a minute. I wondered if the "Carnival people" perceive their world as an accurate portrayal of reality. A world of flashing lights, bouncy music, and stuffed animals. It is legitimate to assume that those people have a very skewed view of reality. We all live in our own personal Carnivals and mistake it for reality.

reality (n) - something that exists independently of ideas concerning it.; the world or state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.

Sometimes, we have ideals that are important to us--so we create worlds that have no actual ties to reality. Like the man who loved giant mice and pizza so much, that he created Chuckie Cheese. Or the man who loved candy so much, that he wrote about a character named Willy Wonka. More important, is when we experience the reality of the world and then form ideals and notions about that literal actuality!

Friday, September 11, 2009

i Love that Hummus

I recently helped someone write a paper about what the word “love” means to them. After stumbling around some boring premises to the paper, we stumbled upon something I think about, but have never really thought deeply about. My brother would talk a lot about ‘5 Dollar Words’ right when I got home from my mission. Words that we use when we don’t want to explicitly state what it is we mean.

So for this paper, it was decided that we should write out what it is we really mean when we say love in various contexts. I think it is interesting to think about what love really means to us when we say it--is it superficial or sincere? Deep or shallow? Understood or just negligently used? What does love mean?

I was prompted to think about this today while I was eating my homemade tacos and really enjoying the secret hummus sauce I put on them, when I said to myself, “Man, I love that hummus.” I stopped and thought, “What does that even mean?” So, I thought I would write down some common usages of the word love and describe what they literally mean in my opinion.

I love that hummus = Hummus tastes really good and compliments the meat, onions, tomatoes, sour cream, lettuce, and wheat tortillas of my fresh made tacos.

I love Autumn = The weather is perfect in the Fall and I can comfortably wear pants and a long sleeve shirt.

I love that shirt on you = that material really compliments your body type perfectly.

I love this song = this song makes me want to dance / this song reminds me of that one time… / this song really inspires me.

I love the Gospel = The Gospel teaches me truths about my Savior, the purpose of life, and the things I need to do to return to live with God, and I feel the Spirit when I hold to its precepts.

I love my family = I have known and spent tons of time with these people who know me and appreciate me for my good and bad parts, and I feel more at home and comfortable when I am with them than I do anywhere else.

When I really think about how unabashed I abuse the word love, I come to the solid conclusion that I don’t understand it much. I think we hide behind that word more than any other, and use it so we can avoid saying what we really mean. Only when you think you really understand it, do I think you should use it as a verb. I think those last two examples I used are the only two times in my life where I can use the word love appropriately, because I do love the gospel and my family…very much.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Small Acts of Kindness

So, I'd like to just relate a small story that has impressed me lately. I'll start out in the past.

A little over two years ago, I was living in the freshman dorms, doing freshmen laundry in our freshmen basement. The laundromat was organized roughly so:



I put my dirty shorts, shirts, and under garments into an open machine, inserted the appropriate coinage, and was on my way. I planned accordingly and arrived back in the laundry room right before my wash was finished. I used one of those convenient MTC, wire "basket on wheels" to transfer my clothes from washer, to wire basket on wheels, to dryer. I loaded the dryer, added coinage, and once again, left the washroom. This time, however, I was not as deliberate in my planning and timing. Unregulated hours passed before I remember that my clothes were well past "tumble dry". Several hours later, I entered the laundry room, and found an untidy pile of my undies on the ground next to the "what is that?" goop in the corner of the room. I claim full responsibility for my actions (I was young, though) and took the young man's clothes, who had dumped my clothes on the floor, and spread them neatly into all 4 corners of the room. Retribution never felt so good.

Let's jump back to the present. I was leaving for 'saturday afternoon football with the guys', when a roommate said, "Hold on, I'm just going to throw a load in before we go". I realized that load might be sitting in the dryer for quite some time, an 'unregulated' amount of time, if you will. I recalled the events of freshman year, but couldn't risk being late for afternoon football. So, he started a drying cycle, and we left for many hours. Upon arrival home, I was taken aback to find my roommate grinning, with a pile of folded laundry in his hands.



The words, "They just made my day, and I don't even know who they are...I love BYU" left his mouth. There were so many opportunities for this anonymous person to have done the least amount of service possible. They could have left the dryer and chosen to do laundry at a later date. They could have simply dumped his laundry into the basket he'd left next to the machine. Heck, they could have chosen to dump them next to the nasty pile of "what is that" in the corner of the room. But they chose to do the most that they could. One by one, they folded his shirts, his pants, and his nice, white, underskivves and place them neatly in his basket. So insignificant, but yet so kind. I was impressed, and looked up kindness in the scriptures:

"...the desire of a man is his kindness." Prov. 19:22

A very small thing, but for me, it left an impression. And the most perfect part is that I'll never know who did it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Life Goals

I was rummaging wednesday through my mission things and found my first mission journal. It runs from approximately February 2007-March 2009. On the last page, I would periodically write down life goals that inspired me between those dates. They still inspire me; I still plan on fulfilling each of them and find them very realistic.

Goals:
-Chop down a tree of 30 feet or more.
-Start a "Boy Meets World" (or other wholesome show) club at BYU
-One summer of my life, work a crazy job...somewhere far away.
-Learn the piano...MASTER the piano.
-Plant a garden and sustain myself.
-Be more active in community/national/global service.
-Consider these thoughts when deciding on a vocation bzw. everything I do:
->Will that, which takes the majority of my time, help other to live a better life?
->Will it inspire me to be an inspired man?
->Is my motive money? Or is it LOVE, in any of its forms?
->Will it teach me continually? Or will it lead my life to repetition?
->Will it help me become exalted?

-Buy a bike. Ride it.
-Don't be an energy, money, food, time Waster.
->Do your part for the environment/world.

-Do 100% Hometeaching, every year of my life.
-Keep especially these commandments:
->Keep Sabbath Day Holy
->Tithing
->Deal Honest with my Fellow Man
->Live always within my means.

I have not made severe changes here to what I wrote in my journal. This is a very honest, clear look into my mind. I hope it didn't frighten you. Would life not be fulfilling if you did all those things? Especially the tree one.

this i like.

I feel already as if I will waste this post failing to adequately express a feeling I'd really like to convey. I am going to write this post while listening to Us by Regina Spektor , so if you want to read what's entering my ears while I write, check that out.

Basically, I have had a couple days of self-rediscovery and enlightenment. I didn't really realize the process taking place over the past couple days until I had a few minutes to quietly sit and think. I really treasure that activity. I was thinking about becoming a good person, while also becoming the kind of person that people enjoy being around. Luckily, I have a few good people whose company I enjoy surrounding me, so I can take notes from them. For instance, all my siblings and siblings-by-law. The more time I spend with them, the more I really learn about living well and doing good. I've been able to learn a lot from Bryce and Christina in the past week. I am consistently instructed and edified when I read about Hilary, Tyler, and the Lores.

Don't you like it when you feel like a part of you that's been sleeping for awhile is awoken by a beautifully written word or perfectly portrayed image? I've been reading some inspiring things and saw a fairly well done film today that have awoken my better slumbering parts. I bought a book called The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley and saw the film 500 Days of Summer by director Marc Webb.

What is Simon Critchley's aim and direction in his book? Here's an excerpt that I value as a thesis:
"The main task of philosophy is to prepare us for death, to provide a kind of training for death, the cultivation of an attitude towards our finitude that faces-and faces down-the terror of annihilation without offering promises of an afterlife."
I mean, I obviously DO believe in an afterlife and a loving God that desires our obedient return to Him..but, if death is a transition and meaningful, then isn't philosophy's instruction on overcoming our fear of death, and ascending above our slavery to it, a good thing?
"To philosophize is to learn how to die".
"He who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave".
It isn't a morbid or grim book at all. It really has inspired me for some reason. A paragraph in the author's introduction might explain it best:
"Very simply stated, this is a book about how philosophers have died and what we can learn from philosophy about about the appropriate attitude of death and dying. My hope, to echo the epigraph from Montaigne, is 'to make a register, with comments, of various deaths'. My wager is that in learning how to die we might also be taught how to live."

It is just refreshing to awake. It is a fulfilling process and really the only pursuit that matters: becoming who you want to be through constant evaluation and reawakening.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Kalai From The Grassy Knoll

I went to a concert tonight to watch Kalai, while sitting on the grassy knoll at the Springville Amphitheater. It was not so much a celebration of music or art, as it was a celebration of the LIVE Music scene. I pulled out the blanket while standing on the slope of the grassy knoll, looking out over a solid crowd of 200 strong. Kalai was sitting, center-stage, with his bass guitarist to his right (our left) and his drummer to our right (his left). The stage was huge and seemed negligently un-used by Kalai and his cronies. There was good purpose though, his stage presence mirrored his artistic style: simple and thoughtful.

He spent a majority of the performance not playing music, but talking to the crowd. He had the crowd rolling (although I found some of the sacrament meeting jokes a bit off-color) as he put on a candid comedy sketch for his avid emo-looking fans. Hence my labeling of this event a celebration of LIVE performance, and not necessarily music. BUT, when he did sing, boy could he sing. He graced us with such songs as: "Divide Me, Where the Wild Things Are" and others. He is a LIVE performer, no doubt about it.

Although his songs are meaningful, they can be rather tiresome, especially between ballads of jokes and rambling. We got to the point where a nice game of Blackjack, with background accompaniment from Kalai, would be preferred. Instead of betting chips or money, we bet dares. I lost a dare and had to start a "slow clap" to the rhythm of the song, and other stakes included skipped around the audience, offering Goldfish to a stranger, and harassing fellow audience members. What would a community event be without the immature BYU students? It was enjoyable and although it wasn't necessarily edifying in content or nature, it was uplifting in performance and community involvement.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

at 100 East & Crazy-Lady North

Life has been moving quick lately. I've had multiple people ask me in the past few days, "Whoa, are you tired?" I think the routine of normal life is catching up with me. I still try and do a couple things that keep life from being too ritualistic or routine. Let's run through a couple examples..

I try to enjoy school. There seems to be a really lame attitude going around that school is a burden because it is hard and requires thought. It might just be my constant association with Freshmen (because I am one, technically) in all my freshman classes. I sometimes have to step back and read the page in my textbook 2 or 3 times with the thought in mind, "just enjoy it". And when I do that, regardless of what I am learning, be it arbitrary or essential, I drop it down deep in my intellect and really enjoy it.

I try to run different routes on my jogs. You'd be surprised the difference a different street can make to take. I have ended up lost, but happy many times. You can wrap your mind a little bit better around the geography of the world, the more places you visit. Finding a new street in Provo, is like walking a little street inside yourself that you've never quite explored before.

I try to buy scooters. I accomplished my goal (mom, don't read this) and found a really cheap scooter yesterday, and bought it! It was an old guy who just wanted to get rid of it; it's in great condition. Being frugal, but adventurous, and consumer-ish all that the same time is quite exhilarating. It's an ironic experience, when you feel like you've just saved money after having just spent it.

I give crazy people rides on hitch hiking whims. I was driving today and pulled up to the light, when a lady with a 'Little Caesars' employee shirt stuck her head inside my passenger side window and asked, "You going to 100 East?" To which I replied, "Now I am. Get in". We drove and talked and she repeated the sentences, "I'm just reaaally worried" followed by "Do you think it is normal to be really worried" about 15 times during the drive, as I tried to make small talk. There is something refreshing about a conversation where there is no pressure. I could have honestly said anything I wanted to this lady and I'm sure it would have been about 1000 times more sane than anything running around in her head, and that put me at ease. Not to be rude or anything, she was a nice lady. I dropped her off at the DMV and we parted ways for what could be a long time, or at lease until I stop at the Little Caesar's intersection again.

I read a paper about "Shaun of the Dead" for my humanities class and figured it related to this subject of routine. She wrote about the use of Zombies in breaking Shaun out of his modernism cell of routine and complacency. I think that's pretty important, we could all use a couple Zombies to dislodge us from the boring everyday.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Untitled

I went to the MOA today to check out some of the art down below. I saw the Walter Wick exhibit and strolled by the "American Dreams" room, and found some time to look at some 'Untitled' art by Dan Steinhilber. It was great, i liked it. The piece that really caught me and dragged me in to the exhibit was composed of melted black and white trash bags onto a surface, with the blue tie string present throughout. It was creative bordering on cliché, but also very expressive.


I think the best part came as I was entering the MOA. I have been growing quite self-conscience of my should bag, due to recent persecution. The man at the desk didn't help. I walked up and put my bag on the desk and said, "Where do I check this in, I know bags aren't allowed in here", to which he replied, "Oh, it's OK, bags aren't allow but purses are. Go on in". The worst part was that he wasn't even trying to joke around. He was serious.

Here are some works from the exhibit:

-Untitled by Dan Steinhilber
This entire thing is made of Duck Sauce packets. I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but somehow he generated the effect of waves along the canvas. Each packet had a black dot (for packaging reasons) in one corner, and he aligned those appropriately to give the piece texture. It is displayed on a black wall with one dominant light shining down onto the center of the frame. I guess lighting is key here, because it gives it a new texture that the packets themselves can't produce. You might ask how the context of the piece matches its form? Don't ask me.


-Untitled by Dan Steinhilber
All of his pieces are untitled. I found that appropriate. He didn't really create anything he displayed, he only just manipulated to express it. He didn't invent the plastic chair, but he turns our attention away from context, and asks us to simply contemplate its form. This here consists of 2 stacks of chairs piled upside-down on top of each other. Makes me think of Tetris®, kindof. If you completely disregard the fact that you are staring at 2 stacks of piled chairs, then the piece is actually very aestetically pleasing.

The exhibit brought once again the question to my mind, what is art? And if all those things are art, then we live and associate with art more often than we realize. Every time we pick up a trash bag to shake it out, every time we make our bed, or turn on a light, or even when we open and administer Taco Bell Mild Sauce® over our Chicken Quesadilla, we are creating a little piece of art that has never been produced in quite that way. Although it won't make it to the MOA exhibit, it will keep life a little more vibrant. Keep making art the best way you know how.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thank Goodness for Chapter 13

I was wondering when this unit was going to roll around. We marched through Painting and Sculpture, Architecture and Ballet, Opera and Greek Theater, even Bauhäuser and Greek Deities. Music is the only thing that stands between Humanities 101 and the brief study of film. Yes, we are finally approaching film and I can hardly contain myself. I have been having flashbacks of TMA 102 and regrettably realized I've forgotten a lot.

I don't think I could adequately describe to anyone why I enjoy film so much. Music hits you right in your very core and leaves your foot tapping, but film hits you at every receptor and leaves your hands clapping. I met a french man once with whom I discussed the subject of religion, and responded to the question 'where are you going now' by saying, "This conversation, like after listening to a great piece of music, or experiencing theater, or a good film, requires a long walk, deep in thought". I really like walking out of a darkened theater after being asked for 2 hours to subconsciously ask myself, "what does this mean?"

A beautifully crafted film beginning with great characters and their developments, furthering of the plot by means of subtle rising action, the ultimate collapse or realization of conflict at the climax, followed by appropriate denouement, with striking cinematography throughout, is all a guy can ask for. It should ideally answer a question of the human predicament, or at least help us in producing more refined questions. I don't think any other medium of art has the capacity to be philosophical than film has.

A quote by Ingmar Bergman:
"A film for me begins with something very vague--a chance remark or a bit of conversation, a hazy but agreeable event unrelated to any particular situation. These are split second impressions that disappear and leave behind a mood--like pleasant dreams. It is a mental state, and not an actual story, but one abounding in fertile associations and images. Most of all, it i a brightly colored thread sticking out of a dark sack of the unconscious. If I begin to wind up this thread, and do it carefully, a complete film will emerge."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Neo-Futurism and Art

Ever heard of the Futurist Movement? Originated in the 20th Century Italian cities? Headed by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and his precarious Futurist Manifesto. The Manifesto is a must read. I have it here, compliments of Wikipedia, in case you must read it:

Manifesto of Futurism

  1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.

  2. Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.

  3. Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggresive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.

  4. We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.

  5. We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.

  6. The poet must spend himself with ardor, splendor, and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.

  7. Except in struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man.

  8. We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!... Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.

  9. We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.

  10. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.

  11. We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.
So, with that ridiculous manifesto, here is some of the Theatrical Art produced by the Neo-Futurists of our beloved generation.

video

Other videos of Neo-Futuristic Theater consists of lights flashing, people talking absurdities, and sporadic dancing. It is speed in its essence. I picked this video, not necessarily for its content, but for its style. It is quick acting, quintessential of the movement. Read into the meaning and you might find some extra ties. Here is some Futurist sculpture art:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pioneer Art Display

Today, I decided to take part in an Exhibit of Art at a Pioneer Festival on the 24th. It was comprised of pictures dating back into the late 1800's of early Provo settlements.




Aside from the covered wagons, tee-pees, carved statues of pioneers, and bonnets galore, I enjoyed most the classic rock band dressed in pioneer clothing. They even sang songs with lyrics about contemporary pioneers.

I am lured sometimes into thinking, "well, these are historical photographs and only exist to let us know what things looked like back then". I forget that the photographers here probably had just as must artistic drive as photographers today. I'm sure their main goal in capturing this moment, was not to show to generations in advance, but to truly capture that moment in time.

There were pictures of people in lines, posing for the camera. Buildings that complimented the dirty country-side. Photos of old downtown Provo. All displayed on wooden easels on the grass under white canopies.

One cheer for the pioneers and the photographers who captured things.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Refreshed.

Lately, I have been feeling the 'strain of the arts' as I'd like to call it. We just got through a very rigorous unit of Ballet, Modern Dance, and Architecture which wasn't favorable to my artistic psyche. I was burnt out. I think it must have physically shown on my face in class, because I deservedly got 9/10 on participation points this week. It became very apparent to me in the preceding days that I needed to 'freshen up', as it were. 

I asked myself, "why?" What had changed? Why was I not so excited for lines, and movement, and the Arts anymore? I came to the conclusion (a very important conclusion for me) that it was because i had FORGOTTEN. I forgot about the Philosophy of Humanities that had me so excited at the beginning of the term. It was an important epiphany for me, because I think I realized 'my call' to philosophy. I loved the first 2 chapters of my Humanities book, and would like to etch these words in the 'text editor stone tablets' of my blog. If you forget about the Philosophy of any given subject, then you forget about your purpose for breathing that given subject in daily.

"Cultural literacy is a worthy goal for all human beings; it is second in importance to literacy itself." I think it was half-way through architecture when I forgot my purpose for learning about the arts, and it was definitely during Modern Dance where I got angry about it. We are not there to necessarily like Art, or even comprehend it really, we are there to understand what another being is trying to express. Learning to appreciate it and letting it inspire you are worthy goals. Choosing art that we like immediately over art that is, so to speak, an "acquired taste" would be like choosing to eat oreos at every meal, rather than the occasional salad, because oreos delight the tongue every time. We need to let ourselves be nourished.

"Parents should send their young to college not, as at present, mainly to acquire highly salable skills or to earn good livings, but solely for the purpose of becoming cultured human beings." Those past two quotes were from my text book. I mean, I know it is a bit idealized (highly idealized), but when our goal becomes money or grtification then our pathway becomes so darn dull. 

To say it in terms of social research, I'll use some words from Neil Postman (thanks to Ty). Postman wrote concerning the root of doing research. He claimed it was not to better the field of a particular researcher found himself in, it wasn't to enrich the textbooks of other similar studies, or even to add credit to a career, he said:
"What is the purpose of such research? - the answer is not, obviously, to contribute to our field, but to contribute to human understanding and decency. For the most part, novelists do not write to enrich the field of novel-writing. The good ones write because they are angry or curious or cynical or enchanted. The Scarlet Letter was not written by a man who wanted to improve the art of the novel, but by a man who wanted to improve the art of living together.”

Whew, I think I am refreshed from yet another close call with intolerance and complacency. I know what has been lacking. It is such a small step in the walk of inspiration, but it is one of the more tiring. It is summed up in this quote from my textbook, "A truly 'general' education invites us to develop the emotions in tandem with the intellect. This can happen only if we are willing to spend some leisure time reading, thinking, and even daydreaming."

Search, Ponder, and Pray. Read, Think, and Daydream. Learn, Contemplate, and be inspired.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's my dance, and I'll Interpret it if I want to.

This week kicked off our studies of dance in the Humanities. It has drained me of nearly all I've got. Dance is great and all, but I just don't revere it. I just hear "mumbo jumbo" when people talk about interpreting dance. And worse, I just think "crazy" when I see people like Isadora Duncan jumping around, failing her arms, and screaming some nonsense about 'solar plexus' and what not. I appreciated the unit about Ballet, but I am glad that today we moved on in the course material. I came upon this video as I was thinking about modern art. I think it is dance inspired by one boy's interpretation of a painting. It's simple, why complicate it?

video

We also watched Thriller (Michael Jackson) in class and I recommend to all those who haven't watched it in awhile, that you take a trip down to youtube.com and tune in for your viewing pleasure. It put a kick in my step the past couple days, and a bit of groove in my otherwise stagnant hips.