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):
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.