Sunday, February 20, 2011

To the Top




-Large Mountain

Check. Check. Check.

Tomorrow waits another excursion. The goal? To see the world from a higher vantage. W and I decided that with no school tomorrow morning we wanted to take to the wilderness and hike Y-mountain. We were looking on the BYU Outdoors Unlimited website and found that it costs a mere $5 to rent an axe. I decided that, with one of my life goals so close to fulfillment, I would rent the axe and chop down a sizable tree tomorrow morning. Don't worry--every fallen tree is the beginning of new life (or so says Planet Earth). Chopping down a tree is not about dominion over life--not at all. It is a participation in the way of things living and dying. It is connecting with nature and the pattern of the wilderness. I do not chop to destroy. I chop to understand.

"Being is the great explainer." -Henry David Thoreau

Hopefully there will be pictures tomorrow from our expedition. We are renting snowshoes around 8am and heading straight to the mountain. We will not return until we have inhaled enough mountain air to sufficiently clear our lungs of the dust and staleness of libraries and classrooms. Though life is good right now, a brief departure from the valley will be revitalizing. To go up to the beginning of streams and maiden snow drifts! With the confusion of the past few weeks with K recently giving way to more certainty, it will be nice to contemplate how good life is while on a hike in the nature of the mountains. Because life is very good right now. Life is best at two times: when in thoughtful solitude and when surrounded by good people. And a moment or two of thoughtful solitude usually leads to appreciation for the goodness of those around us.

Tomorrow should be fun. Wish W and I luck that we won't die!

NOTE: Someone recently recommended not using names in my blog, so all names will be indicated with capitalized letters. Sorry for any ensuing confusion and vagueness. If the first letter of your name is used and is tied to a derogatory statement in my blog please assume I'm not talking about you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Talk on the Two-Way

I had three good phone conversations last night in what I deemed as answers to a prayer. My thoughts have been dominated lately by doubt, uncertainty, and a little bit of obsession, and each of these conversations helped to clear away some clutter in my mind.

First, I got a call from my mom. I hadn't talk to my mom in what felt like weeks. I love my family. I fear calling them on the phone because they are all interesting individuals and I never have anything interesting to bring to the table in conversation with them. Not to mention, I dislike talking on the phone. Our conversation wasn't anything special, but it felt good to get some motherly love via telephone.

Second, I got a call from a friend in L.A. She had read my post about the abscess and called to ask how things were going, aka to chastise me for not calling her and telling her about it. She called immediately after my mom. Before talking with my momma, I had just finished praying and was lying on my bed reading from Moroni, chapter 10. Ironically, I had challenged her months previously to read Moroni 10 and pray about it. We talked a bit about Mormonism and her feelings about it, and it was exactly what I needed at that moment. I haven't felt like much of a Christian lately, probably because Provo feels more focused on being cool and marriage than on being a Christian. It felt good to talk with someone about scripture, and even though it was brief, I am always inspired by her to consider God in a different way than the one by which I usually consider Him.

Third, I got a call from a friend I hadn't talked to in awhile. She called to tell me that she was planning a humanitarian aid trip to Kenya, and that she would be hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro before the summer was over. After talking for awhile about life and the way of school, I looked at the clock and decided it was time for bed. I was so inspired by our conversation that I laid in bed for a long while and just thought about it.

I hadn't received such a stark answer to prayer in a long time. I could have easily missed it. You have to understand, I hardly ever talk on the phone. I just don't like doing it. My goal once on the phone is to get off of the phone immediately, usually. People know this about me and generally don't call me much, and I apologize for creating that system by my lack of enthusiasm. Please, for anyone reading this, call me more often. It is one of my goals to become a lover of phone conversation. Conversations are the stuff of relationships, and relationships are the stuff of life. I love good conversation and good relationships--so it follows I need to improve my phone usage. Those three conversations have really led to some quality introspection.

Here are some goals I set as a result of last night:

-call at least one person on the phone a day to ask how they are doing
-By February 21st, find a place to devote at least 6 hours monthly of volunteer service
-don't waste time by watching any TV, or reading sports articles

What do I want to achieve through my goals? I want to be able to be inspired frequently to do things for God and my fellow man. At different points in my life I have felt like this, I just hope to extend those points to now and always.

Baby steps, right?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Midnight Hour

"Remember," said her godmother, "you must leave the ball before the clock strikes twelve. If you do not, your coach will again become a pumpkin, your horses will become mice, your coachman will turn into a rat, and your footmen into lizards, while you will find yourself once more in shabby clothes."

All the evening, the prince kept at Cinderella's side, dancing with her and serving her dishes at suppertime. Indeed, his mind was so taken up with her that he forgot to eat a morsel himself. While Cinderella was talking to her stepsisters, the clock chimed a quarter before twelve.

She thought it not yet eleven when the clock struck twelve. She started then in fright and fled from the ballroom swiftly before anyone saw the rags her raiment had become. The prince ran after her, but he did not catch her. All he could find of her was a little glass slipper lying upon this staircase.

Thus it was as the clock struck midnight and the bells filled the air. It became as if the night had never been, as if no ball had ever happened. The flowing gown that Cinderella once wore was again a humble slip, and the ringing in of the midnight hour carried Cinderella far away with tears in her eyes, as the prince was left pondering over the sparkling slipper left on the staircase.
-From The Little Glass Slipper

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ten Cubic Centimeters

I will be brief, because I am supposed to be studying right now, but I need to tell about my weekend before I do anything else. I realized the other day that my life is driven by stories. When I have a story to tell, I am happy. When I am listening to a good story being told, I am happy. When I have no story, I have nothing.
I will direct your attention to the syringe depicted above. This syringe is capable of drawing ten cubic centimeters (roughly 10 mL) of liquid into its barrel.

This past weekend/week was a rough one. I woke up Saturday morning with severe back pain. I could hardly breathe and any sort of movement was pained. I took a shower and laid on my back for a couple hours before pleading with my dad to prescribe me some pain killers and muscle relaxers. I drove to costco and waited in line while my prescription was filled. This was easy to do because the juice lady had set up her free-samples booth next to the pharmacy. I might just have moseyed over to the chocolate-covered raisin lady and chatted while swiping paper cup after paper cup of her morsels. My prescription was filled and I downed my pills like a character in some Lifetime channel movie.

Abscess(n) - a swollen area within body tissue, containing an accumulation of pus

I spent most of Sunday and Monday avoiding swallowing at all costs. My dad and brother spent a few phone calls diagnosing me, and finally hit the abscess on the head Monday night with the right diagnosis. I drove to the hospital Tuesday morning. The hospital is a weird place. All the things that are weird in normal life are normal in the hospital: being naked, talking like a looney person, urinating anywhere you want, telling people all about your nasty rashes, etc. The hospital was a place I liked. I got a CT scan and was told to call the ENT specialist and have the abscess in my throat drained.

I drove to the ENT with Kate and got a big dose of pain relief. This pain relief came in the form of a huge needle. He numbed my throat, tilted my head back, depressed my tongue, and harpooned my deep abscess with the needle. He drew the plunger of the syringe back and pulled out 10cc of pus. This is a lavish amount of pus.

I now have a lot of appreciation for people who suffer from chronic pain. This whole week as I choked down saliva through a burning throat, and as I staggered around the house in back pain, I kept thinking about Mark Harless. I haven't seen him in such a long time, but the image of him sitting straight-backed at the wheel in the morning as he laughed and drove us to seminary is forever in my memory. I was going looney after 3 days of constant pain. I teared up thinking about the pain he goes through daily, monthly, yearly, and that he still faces each day. Respect, Mark.

5 Days until Kate's missionary comes home. I can tell it's on her mind more and more, and I mostly just don't have anything intelligent to say concerning the matter. I trust that whatever is decided and whatever conclusion gets reached, it will be alright in the end, regardless. Each time I tell someone about my health predicament of the past few days, they get mad that I didn't call them and have them come down and help. I don't have the heart to tell them that I had Kate there, and that was all I really needed. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have watching as 10cc of pus are siphoned off my body. She was overly excited at the chance to get to see it, I think. It turned out to be a sweet day together in the end, oddly enough. So, if I didn't call you to have you join me in my moment of plight, I apologize, but you get it, right?

It's been good to be sick again. Death is just around the corner, and that's all right. Life is pain. I used to think that all growth comes from struggle, and life has been so darn easy lately that nothing is growing anymore. Bring on the sickness and the pain and the struggle--because I'm primed to see and meet the struggle in a way that will help me plant my feet firmer in the ground and grow up toward God.

"All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." -d&c 121:7