Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Merry Thanksgiving

Do you ever think that we think about ourselves too much? That maybe we are, deep down, more controlled by our id than by our soul? And that maybe, in the grand scheme of things, nothing we do for yourselves will really matter?
I spent some time in my life (not much, seeing as I am still very young), but some time being completely dedicated to others. For a 2 years and 4 days, I lived, ate, breathed, and cried over the needs of others, to the exclusion of all else. I watched as peoples homes were burnt to the ground, then stepped in with a shovel to sift through the ashes and a shoulder to cry on. I sat on the dirt floor of hovels that didn’t seem like they could possibly belong in America, listening to the tales of woe offered up by the poor souls who called that hovel a home, and offering them the only thing I had: a hope in the divine. I couldn’t offer them money; I had none. I couldn’t offer them a job; I myself was unemployed. But I knew that there were more important things, and so that is what I offered them.
Then I came back to the real world, and was told to start taking care of myself: Go to school, get a job, find a wife, they said. Be successful, keep the faith, make fat babies, they said. And so here I sit, making myself miserable trying to worry about someone who doesn’t matter to me too much, and who honestly needs nothing from me, thereby garnering no satisfaction.
I bring this up, not to blow my own horn, but to mention the lesson I learned: worrying about yourself sucks the happiness out of life. If all you ever do is worry about you, if all your ever plan for is things for yourself, you end up spiraling inward, convoluting like a snake eating itself until you are stuck with nowhere to go, and with no way to satisfy that inner hunger for... Something more.
So I have decided to quit. My life is relatively in order. I am in school, am working to pay for it, and am working on perfecting my craft. And so I leave it at that. How would the world be if everyone only worried about themselves? How would my life be if I had only ever worried about me?
So I offer this up to everyone who never reads this blog anyways: I am here to help. I want to help, even need to. And I suggest you do the same. Instead of lengthy lists of things we want, or things that we are grateful for, in order to assuage our latent guilt for being selfish, lets keep a private list, a list of the people that we have lifted up, and the things we have done to improve the lives of those around us.
A dear friend of mine submits that everyone is miserable, and we are all just hiding it. And he further declares that this misery is what defines us, and the hiding of it that makes us happy. Maybe he is right. I don’t know. But I think that this is a solution. If we stop living through ourselves, and start living for others, that misery can be replaced.
End of rant.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

People who make you want to be better.

Not people who make you think “oh man, I have to seem like a better person in order to be around so and so”. Thats not healthy at all. But every now and then, you meet people who inspire you; who make you see life in a different way. These people make you want to be a better person for its own sake, and for yours. These people are a rarity. They don’t appear often along the trail we take. But when they do, they are like a cool spring to your weary soul; a place to clean up, drink, rest, and then have another go at life.
In my life I have had an unusual compliment of these people: whether because I needed more of them than usual or I just got lucky, I don’t know. Either way, fortune has planted them in my path exactly when I needed them. And it is amazing where they come from.
The first instance that comes to my mind is my father. He served a mission when no one else in his family would. He came home, had a job that he lost, and had 2 kids. So he dusted himself off, worked at macey’s while going to school so he could get a real career. He gives and gives and gives to us kids, and sometimes I feel like we are just leeches, and just feed of his selflessness in a parasitic frenzy. But he has never quit. When I grow up, if I am half the dad that MY Dad is, then I will feel most accomplished.
There is a man in my ward named Ken Robinson. Ken is a great, humble man. He has a son, Ryan, age 34-ish, who is incredibly handicapped. Cant walk, talk etc. Every day for 30 years they have taken care of him. Every week they would help him into his wheel chair and bring him to church, sitting in the back row. Now he is too sick to come so they take turns staying home or coming to church. And he always had a smile, always accepted callings.
My dear friends Alex and Trevor, each in a different way, make me want to be better people. It was in large measure thanks to their great example that I went on a mission. They consistently amaze me by their focus and dedication to their life choices.
Warren Murley, my beloved friend from Abbottsford, BC, made me want to be better from the moment I met him. Were we perfect? Far from it. But together, we lifted each other and a host of other missionaries to become the best that we could.
There are few people like Sam Holley. So focused, dedicated, and completely innocent. Not stupid, not ignorant, just innocent. Pure. I miss you Sam. Everyday I woke up and said to myself I want to be more like Elder Holley. I still do most days. Everything was wonder to Sam; everything an adventure.
I have a friend. An asian friend. With more talent and drive in her little finger than I have in my(stereotype edit). I love Anatasha. She changed my life. From her first announcement of “we are going to be friends” to her most recent “I love you, buddy”. I admire her drive, courage, and her ability to love. I want to be like her someday: proud, happy and brave. Julie is my most recent example. A long lost friend, flung to the past, thought never to be found. And then there she was. And every second with her makes me realize that life CAN be beautiful. That people ARE good. And that I CAN be better. That I could choose to be happier. And because of her, I do. If you can go through the things she has, and land on your feet with a smile on your face... Well I don’t know anyone else that could, but her.
In the end, life is what we make of it; thats the lesson I learn from these. That it can be beautiful and frightening and difficult and spontaneous and full of rapture and pain, monotony and bliss. And the trick is to learn from all those times, to capture those moments, and use them to become what you want to be. To be a better person. I wonder if everyone has these people in their lives, and if they notice and appreciate them. This is attempt number one at a blog.