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.

-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
->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.