"If you have an apple, and I have an apple and we exchange apples then we both still have one apple. If you have an idea, and I have an idea and we exchange ideas then we both have two ideas." George Bernard Shaw

Friday, November 8, 2013


     Wonder. Awe. Marvel.  These are just a few words I could use to describe one of my favorite feelings.  And yet I am not sure that any of them really capture the spirit of what I feel.  I hope that through the words I share here that you can capture something of the vision I have.
     If I were to choose a beginning to this particular story I suppose the best place to start would be in the summer of 2011.  The feeling of course goes back much further than that and I may have even contemplated it before, but that summer had a few experiences that make it as good a time as any to start.  I worked at Island Park Scout Camp that summer.  I was the director of the Trail to Eagle,which was designed to help scouts complete their first few ranks through 1st class.  As part of my assignment I had to teach the scouts a large variety of skills.  The one pertinent to this story was that of plant identification.  It was during that time that I started to really appreciate the wide variety and beauty of nature.  Lord Baden Powell summed it up wonderfully in a farewell letter to the scouts of the world that was published after his death. "Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy.   Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it.   Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one."  I had the opportunity to read that as part of our honor trail at the camp.  I made a goal to study nature more and learn to identify more plants.  I have not learned any more plants since that time, but I try to be more conscious of the world as I go throughout my day.  At any rate it started a way of approaching life that I do my best to live to this day.
     I wish I could say that there was an immediate change in my life after that summer, but the next several months turned out to be a very dark time for me and the seed lay dormant.  When I began to come out of the darkness and back into the light, I decided I wanted to make changes in my life; I didn't want to be the same person I had been.  I wanted to live a fuller life and see just how far I could go.  In truth I had had similar thoughts in many periods of my life, but after having been very nearly destroyed I had a unique opportunity to rebuild myself.  I simply felt that I was capable of doing amazing things with my life and I didn't want to lose any opportunities because I wasn't living my life in a way to take advantage of them.
     In the spring of 2013 I took an institute class in which my teacher taught us that we should live our lives' in crescendo.  In life we are either improving or we are declining; there is no stagnation.  We should live each day a little better than the one before.  The lessons he taught about living in crescendo that semester resonated with me in a way few things had.  I wanted to become all that God intended me to be.  I wanted to live my life in such a way that nothing could hinder my progression, and that would enable me to recieve every blessing my Heavenly Father had in store for me.
     I began to see the world through new eyes, partly because I was laying aside anything that would hinder my spirit and partly because I was making a determined effort to see and experience all the amazing things this world has to offer.  The best word I can find to describe what I felt is "wonder".  It's the feeling I get when I learn something new and I become totally immersed  in what I'm studying, and I just can't stop; When I take time to really admire the beauty of creation; the range of emotions that good music can inspire; the feeling when some beautiful divine truth is made manifest in a new way.
     I can't very well describe that feeling, but it makes me feel as if nothing is impossible; as if I'm not even in this world and my spirit yearns to leave mortal bounds and go onward to infinite.  It's a feeling of pure joy and exhilaration; one of not being weighed down by anything.  I crave that feeling.  I don't always do things that let me feel it, and sometimes I let it get lost in the hustle and bustle of living.
     I wish I could find some way to let you inside my head and show you what I want to say.  As hard as I try I can find no words that don't feel like an injustice.  Although I cannot express my thoughts adequately, I may be successful if you feel something inside you that you also cannot express, but that you recognize.  It's something that we all feel at times in our lives, but that we often miss because we aren't looking for it.  Please, live in crescendo, look for the wonder in life, grab life by the horns or however you want to say it.  Don't let anything stop you.  Set your spirit free and let it fly.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Really Important Things in Life

     As of the time of writing I am in my junior year of electrical engineering-which means I am busy. It also meas my classes are really hard right now. As a result I have often questioned if I am going to pass my classes and become an engineer at all. I have learned that whether or not I do isn't really all that important. If I am unsuccessful in this endeavor then I will find another way to provide for myself and the family I will someday have. One way or another I will be able to meet my financial obligations and provide the necessities of life. So then what does matter?
     What really matters is that I am still a son of God and a bearer of his priesthood. This also is one thing that no one can take away from me. I can lose almost everything in this life, my job, mobility, even my mind can be lost, but I will ALWAYS be a son of God. As long as I am living my life the way I know that I should, which is solely dependent upon my own actions and not on any outside force, I will hold the priesthood of my Heavenly Father, and be able to use it to bless others.
     I will keep on working toward my degree, and I believe I will accomplish my desire and become an electrical engineer. No matter what happens I am glad that I have come to such a clear understanding of what really matters in life. Even if I don't earn my bachelor's degree as planned, I have grown in ways I never thought I would as a result of my educational pursuits.
     I am eternally grateful for the perspective that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has given me. I know it is God's true church and nothing will bring us greater happiness than following by the principles taught by God's servants, both living and those of ancient time.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Make the Covenant, Enter Into it, and Have it Sealed by the Spirit of Promise

This is a follow up to another article about marriage as a stepping stone.  If you haven't read it click here

     In the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints section 132 vs 7 we read "And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oathsvows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this  power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead."

     The three words I want to focus on are: make, enter, and seal.

     When we enter the temple we make a covenant with God and with our spouse.  It is a simple event that only takes a few minutes to do.

     Once we have made the covenant we have to enter into it.  By this I mean that we continually work to improve our relationship with our spouse and grow and become one.

     After we have worked and grown in marriage, then the Spirit of Promise can come and seal our marriage covenant.  It is then that we are sealed and promised that we will be united forever.

Marriage is a Stepping Stone

"Marriage.  That blessed event.  That dream within a dream"

     These few lines from the movie "The Princess Bride" make marriage sound as if it is the cure to all of life's problems.  Most of us know this is far from the truth, but I think there are a few who still see marriage as an end.  Others may say it is only a beginning.  I say it is a stepping stone.

     I used to think that marriage was the end result of a successful relationship.  During my last relationship I began to think of it in a new light.  I wanted to take that relationship as far as it could go, and in my mind that meant marriage.  However as my relationship progressed I realized that relationships go much further than marriage.  If done right the process of learning, growing, and falling ever deeper in love never stops.  The best couples I know are still learning about eachother, even after thirty or more years of marriage!

     I have long known that humans are not static beings, so why would human relationships be so?  They aren't!  Two people are either becoming closer or they are drifting apart.  There are periods of both in any relationship, but the goal is to come closer and closer in the long run.

     With that thought in mind marriage then becomes merely a stepping stone in a relationship.  It shows the man and woman, and the world their commitment to each other.  It also opens the door for a family to begin and greater growth and deeper joy than either of them could ever hope to acchieve by themselves.  From that small step the process continues onward forever, as husband and wife slowly, but surely become one.

     I delve further into this idea with a more spiritual tone, drawing from my religious beliefs here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Stop Waiting For Life to Begin

     I once read an article directed towards women that advised them not to wait around for prince charming. Although they were still encouraged to marry, they should do more than wait for some dashing young man to sweep them off their feet and solve all their problems.

     I firmly agree with that and its further application to all people.  None of us should sit around waiting and wondering "when will my life begin?"

     Although I have been going to school and preparing to become an electrical engineer, I realized that I was waiting to meet my princess and begin a family.  Its good of course to want to marry, but it had nearly become the sole purpose of my existence.  I had been saying to myself without realizing it, that once I was able to marry and start a family, then my life would really begin, I just had to be patient.

     After a rather painful breakup I began to realize what I was doing.  I decided that I needed to stop waiting for my life to begin and make it begin!  I needed to take advantage of every opportunity to grow and devolop myself, whether single or married.

     How many of us have let opportunity pass us by because we were waiting for something else?  I personally would rather not think about how many opportunitites I lost, because I was waiting for something else instead of seizing the gift right in front of me.  Now is the time to change all of that.  Today is the day to make myself into the man I want to be.  While I believe I will grow in many and unexpected ways when I do marry, there is no reason why I cannot be my own person now.  In fact it is probably essential to finding the greatest happiness I can in marriage that I work to make myself as complete and refined a man as I can.

     Don't let another opportunity slip past because you are waiting for something.  Take charge of your life and when opportunity knocks, invite it in for a drink.  When another one comes by, invite it in as well and make it a party.  If it seems that your house is empty of such guests, then make an opportunity for yourself.  At all times strive to develop, learn, and grow.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Perfect Effort

     As I was walking to church today and thinking about life and how I wanted to change and not be so critical of myself I had this thought: "98% of the time I can't get perfect results, but I can give perfect effort."

     For most of my life I have held very high expectations of myself.  I often compared myself to others and was also critical of others.  It wasn't really that I meant to be offensive or thought that the person was doing a bad job I would just think how they could do it better.  I have a very analytic  mind and it is natural for me to see something or someone and take it apart in my mind, either to see how it works or how to make it better. (I often take real things apart to see how they work as well.  I'm a stereotypical engineer)
     Being so critical of myself and expecting perfection of myself has led to lots of pain for me.  I was a perfectionist and it was hurting me.  I should say is hurting me because it is still something I am working on.  This last week has been really hard for me and I have been struggling to be happy instead of focusing on the negative aspects of my life.  I decided that I should try to worry more about the effort I am putting into something and make sure I am simply doing my best at it, regardless of how it turns out.

     Its good to reach for the stars and to try to be the best I can, but not when it damages me.  My branch president encouraged me to simply let go.  He said I should go float on a river and just let the river take me wherever it wanted to go, but to do that with my mind.  He said it is good that my mind works the way it does, but I don't have to be that way all the time.  Sometimes I need to just go with the flow.

     In the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible it says "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."  There are times that I need to use my mind's full capacity and work as hard as I can, and there are other times that I need to slow down and not worry.

     I need to recognize that some things really don't matter in the long run and just go with whatever sounds good at the time, enjoy the moment, and then move on.  There are also some things that I can't do anything about so I need to just let them go and not worry.

     Some day I, and every other person, will be perfect in all things, but in the mean time I just need to try my best no matter the outcome, and be happy with life.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Life's a balancing act

     How many of us have ever struggled to find balance in life?  Whether it be balancing time at work vs time with family, balancing study, social life and sleep, or whatever.  Life is full of tasks and activities vying for our attention and trying to get everything done can be a challenge.
     For most of us the balancing act doesn't end with time management either.  I try to balance my personal development, and not focus too much in one area and not at all in another.  I try to balance my life goals.  Balance having fun and letting loose vs trying to be able to take life seriously and think deeply about things and just be me.
     Often times I think of balance as being static; as if once I find this perfect, happy medium that everything will be great and I'll never have to worry again.  At least I used to think like that.  I realize now that balance is very dynamic.  When a person is "standing still" they are really making hundreds of micro-adjustments to their stature so that they stay balanced.  Fortunately our brains are very good at this so we don't have to consciously think about adjusting ourselves, its automatic.
     Life is the same.  We don't find one perfect way of dealing with everything and then never change again.  We constantly change ourselves and adjust to meet all of life's demands.  Take life one step at a time on a case by case basis.  Do what must be done, when it must be done.
     "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose on the heaven;" (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Myths, Legends and Truth

     Why do we make stories about extraordinary people?  People who have abilities that could never happen or people with ordinary abilities that do extraordinary things?
     I began to think about these questions after watching a movie about wizards and magic.  People all around the world from the beginning of time have created legends and stories about incredible people and incredible deeds.  From stories about gods and titans to fairy tales to stories about completely average kids who have an unbelievable adventure playing baseball and facing a nemesis known as "The Beast".
     I believe it is because we are searching for something.  Two things actually.  We are trying to find something greater than ourselves, and we are trying to find out who we are.
     A quote from a movie says "I had a professor once who liked to tell his students there were only ten different plots in all of fiction.  Well I am here to tell you he was wrong.  There is only one. . . 'Who am I?'"  Every story we tell is simply us trying to find out who we are.  We make up stories to explore ourselves and the world, values and morals in order to find what resonates with us; what feels right; what will give us a clue as to who we are.
     Our stories give us a chance to escape.  For a time we are free.  In the world of our imagination we can be whoever or whatever we want to be.  There are no rules.  It is the perfect place for us to explore life.  If we try one set of ideas and things don't work then we know that that is not who we are and nothing is lost.
     Inside each of us there is a yearning to make sense of life.  We long to understand, not only who we are, but why are things the way they are.  Is there any rhyme or reason?  Is there a plan?  Is there anything beyond what at times seems to be a dreary and tiresome journey?
     We all hope that there is, and though we can't explain why, we all feel that there must be something out there if we could only find it.  The Greeks made stories of gods who ruled the world and created man.  Other cultures made stories of powerful beings full of wisdom that were able to give guidance to those who sought it.  In our day there is an infinite variety of ways to imagine something that is better than what is around us.
     The bottom line of both questions, "Who am I?" and "Is there something out there that is in control?" comes from the same feelings that make us create all forms of art, to make something better than it was before, and to try to do good things for others.  We know instinctively that we must have come from somewhere, and wherever that somewhere is there must be a something, whether it be some great unknowable power or a being much like ourselves, but all powerful, that guides the universe.
     My goal here is not say what is out there ruling the universe or to tell you how to find the answer to any questions.  I only say that there must be something out there and there must be answers to all of our questions.

I recommend the reader read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis.  I also recommend the reader investigate The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That is the church to which I belong, and which I believe to be true and able to answer all of life's questions.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Slow Down

     So many people move much too fast in this world.  I don't mean running or speeding, but dashing about from one task or project to another, always in constant motion.  How many of us wouldn't know what to do with our time if we didn't have our internet ready cellphone always at hand to entertain us?  Even if you use it to make you more efficient in your job, or to educate yourself (both of which are admirable activities) you may still be rushing too much and missing things.  To our detriment multitasking has become commonplace.

     Take time to smell the roses.  Seriously.  This world is full of wonderful and beautiful things that many if not most of us pass by.  I'm not saying you need to be a nature lover or anything, but take time to appreciate life.  Doing so will relieve stress and give your mind time to clear so that you can be more efficient and more healthy.  "Mind wandering", or thinking about other things rather than being "in the moment", has been shown to cause unhappiness.

     Go on a walk, either alone or with a friend.  Have a picnic in a park with your loved one(s).  Go cloud-watching.  Take time to go talk to an old friend rather than send a hasty message.  Put your phone on silent and have a nice dinner with your family.  Whatever it is find something to relax you.  You'll be happier, less stressed, and be able to perform better.

     We all know how important it is to give our bodies rest, so why don't we give our minds rest too?  Give it a try, and then when your mind is refreshed take some time to just think about life.  Think about what's really important.  Think about how you can improve.  Think about some of the problems facing society as a whole and how we can fix them rather than just complain about them on our Facebook page.

     Its a simple thing, and simple things are simple to do.