July 2, 2013
Nearly midnight now.
Back in 1999, 2000, I started writing on a site called opendiary or something. My diary may still exist there. But what I found was I always did my writing late at night. Something about being up in the dark, thinking about the day, the world, the future. I don’t know, it prompted a lot of introspection and creativity. Those years of college I wrote something like 500 pages of thoughts. I know, I printed it out once, single space, 8 point font. I was pretty impressed.
I went on the mission and suddenly I couldn’t spend the hours writing like I had. It was hugely frustrating. Without the time to consider my feelings and thoughts it was hard to manage my emotions and concerns. I did get over it, though.
But here I am again. Something like 3 years since I last wrote anything on this blog. And I can’t sleep. Summer heat, thoughts of the future, thoughts about identity and self determination keeping me up.
To be honest, one of the things keeping me up is the idea of “what do you want?”
I saw an ex-Mormon post on reddit.com about how his active Mormon friend had “changed his personality so he could achieve his goal of being a stake president by age 30.” It made me wonder, if I were to focus on being more “adult” would I start getting called to bishoprics and stake presidencies? Is that what you want?
Today somebody pointed out a new mission president is a 35 year old with 4 kids. His callings in the church are almost exactly the same as mine. I ask myself “is that what you want?”
I have friends who sit up late working, earning tons of money, but being “plugged in” to the job pretty much all the time. Is that what you want?
I have other friends who just scrape by, always stressed about money, but living relatively leisurely lives. Is that what you want?
You get the idea.
I’m sorry for the post about nothing. I’m just up late. Unsure of myself. Feeling a little too adult for comfort.
December 28, 2009
The past week has been an unusual christmas holiday for our family and those around us.
Because both kayeleen and I are in ward leadership positions, we keep abreast of illnesses in the ward. Last week we had a family go to the hospital because the husband had an obstructed bowel. It required surgery and the removal of 6 inches of his colon on christmas eve. We brought the wife dinner and Kayeleen tried to comfort her as best she was able.
The morning before christmas eve I helped Bishop move a member into her mothers home. She and her husband had decided to split up. It’s sad because I consider them both to be friends, though I’ve not been able to spend much time with either of them. The next day the husband was stabbed twice in the back by a co-worker. He is currently in critical condition.
The day after christmas I was sitting at my parent’s home after having just made the 2 hour drive. I had a bit of a backache start and within 10 minutes we had to go to the hospital because the pain had grown tremendously. It was a kidney stone, but it luckily passed very quickly and I was home before dinner, though very tired.
Today Johnathan has vomited several times and is dehydrated enough to need an I.V. at the doctors office. He’s grey and lethargic.
Weird weird holidays.
June 17, 2009
I wrote an article almost 3 years ago about my mission. I’m re-posting it here.
The last couple of weeks I’ve fallen asleep each night in memories of my mission to Taiwan. My thoughts are in Chinese, and I find myself wondering what ever happened to a certain person or what’s new in a certain city. Most of my place marks on Google Earth are in northern Taiwan, making it seem I know Taipei city better than I know the United States.
It’s because I mark the most unusual things there. Here’s the place with the attack dogs. Here’s the place they dedicated Taiwan. Here’s the temple. Here was my house. Here’s where I saw monkeys. Here’s brother so-and-so’s house. Here’s my favorite fried rice shop.
I think it’s because America is always here for me. But when I see that view of the Taiwanese streets from 850 feet or so I worry I’ll forget something. I’ll forget that road between the apartment and the church in Banqiao that I took every single morning for 3 months. The one that led right through the morning market. I think I’m afraid I’ll forget even the incidentals of the most valued experience of my life so far.
The mission is a chance to see what you are truly capable of. To let you find out what happens when you focus all of your energy all of the time on one thing. You never love as deeply and as powerfully as you do while on your mission. If you do it right, eventually you can’t really help it. You see somebody and you feel love for him or her.
My mission is full of memories and experiences that are so intense in emotion – particularly love – that I can’t adequately express it to anybody. Even those who have gone on missions can’t really explain it to others who have gone. All we can do is smile at each other and say “Yeah.” It’s like saying “I was there. I know.” Some compare it to being brothers in a war having returned from fighting the greatest battle.
And it makes me sad, too. Because what I would like to do more than anything else is pull the feelings from my chest and place them into the hearts of those who haven’t experienced such depth of experience. But perhaps part of what makes the emotions so strong is the fight to earn them.
From beginning to end, the mission was greater than the part I played in it. I was changed far more than I changed anything or anybody. From day one there was never any doubt that there is a God, and that this is the work He wanted me to do. And looking back from the end of the mission it was clear in the same way that the sky is blue that this God is good, that He is in control, and that He loves me, and that He loves every person on the planet. That He knows our names and our thoughts. That He moves with power on this earth even today.
The words represent feelings and knowledge that are so much more profound than the words are capable of describing. I use sentences like that and it just sounds religious – but it’s so much more than what we think of as religion. I imagine climbing a mountain only to find you’ve conquered a foothill.
I can’t and don’t feel like describing the events of my mission right now, but I feel it important to mark now how I feel almost 5 months after being back. To those who read this and are members of my same church – serve, if you are able, and be prepared to learn far more than you ever imagined you didn’t know. For those who are not members of my same church I say: seek miracles and be prepared to accept them in places you didn’t expect to.
I know that God lives and is with us.
There are two things – essential characteristics, as it were – in the balance as far as my job goes. First: It is emotionally rewarding to be able to help people. I really enjoy sitting down with young families and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they find that they, too, can be financially responsible.
Then there’s the counterbalance: I haven’t made a dime doing my job yet – and I’ve been at it for a couple of months. Yes, some money will eventually arrive, just because of contracts already signed and the like, but those checks are so small and so far between that it’s hard to feel perpetually good about my own life – even when I’m helping other people with theirs.
I find myself wondering if I’m doing the right thing. I met with a young family today who made 17,000 dollars last year and who have their own home and 1 other lot that they’re going to build another house on, then sell the first for about 160,000 dollars of profit. As for me, I am living off my last month’s worth of savings and wondering how much longer this financial drought can go on. Should I just give up and go back to the food-services industries? Or do I stick with the job that promises huge dividends in the unknowable future? Where’s my magic 8 ball?
Today it just piled up on me again as I reached the end of the list of people I know personally. I used to feel confident that I could make a living out of this job – but today I am not so sure. I had decided in the past to keep it up for as long as I can. And it may be that I find that it’s not the job for me. But I might find that I am able to survive the next year – and perhaps even thrive in the future. I just don’t know. Not knowing leads to discouragement. Discouragement can lead to giving up. Giving up can lead to switching jobs. Switching jobs can lead to… other jobs?
Reporting live from discouragedville,
April 16, 2007
Recent rains, a general feeling of fatigue, insecurity about the future, and stress caused by an overload of work and school combine in me to produce the recently rare mood of writing. Maybe it’s my own personal stress reliever. That seems to fit with my experience. I remember being a new missionary – in that extremely stressful circumstance of dramatic change – wanting more than anything to sit down at the end of the day in front of the computer and write out my sorrows.
I spend hours each day with a tiny person lying on top of my chest, listening to my heartbeat, his legs curled up under him and his dark eyes widely searching the strange and cold world he’s just recently entered. It makes me glad that no matter how angry he is I can pull him to my chest and he calms down almost immediately. I don’t know how long that will last, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
I taught seminary classes this morning and realized I have a lot to learn about teaching. I feel inadequate to that job and I would be scared to have to do it all the time. If it were just history lessons or math equations it would be easy – but teaching principles meant to change the course of a life are something that I struggle with.
I find myself with a great deal of homework to do this week. I could do it if I were still doing my old job. But I’m supposed to really start my new job tomorrow. So now I don’t know how I’ll have the willpower to leave the baby, wife, visitors, and family alone long enough to learn the lessons. Add to that the need to plan new seminary lessons – a task I never feel is completed no matter how much time I spend on it – and I feel some major insomnia coming on this week.
What I would like to do more than anything else is to kneel down, pray, and have my troubles taken away. Instead, I kneel down, pray, and am told to get to work. I suppose if I really want to grow as a person I had better learn to do the things I’ve been planning on doing – working hard to achieve goals.
I wonder if I’ll learn this skill in time to teach it to my children…
March 28, 2007
Kayeleen nears her due-date. About 2 weeks ago we started noticing contractions pretty much every day. And it would go something like this: At about 7 or 8 at night she would start having contractions every 10 minutes. Then when it got to about 10 pm, they would stop. Then last week it was the same except every 5 minutes. It has become rather frustrating.
It has been suggested that the baby is waiting to come out till we know his name. To which I say “Piffle!”
I’ve also passed my exam and am now licensed in the state of Utah to sell and advise people in the ways of Life, Health, and other kinds of insurance. I hope to be of some use to my friends and family. I’m now working on getting licensed for investments of certain kinds. So if you ever need some financial suggestions, I would be happy to help out.
Anyway… Life feels like it’s on the verge of becoming a whole new thing. A paradigm shift or something. New job, new baby, end of school year, and probably a new apartment pretty soon. It’s going to be interesting to see how it effects my psychology.
February 1, 2007
Today I did what I always hoped I would do, but on accident.
I began with reading my scriptures. I couldn’t go for more than a few verses before I felt that I was carried away into them. I could almost see myself in them, imagining what it would be like to see the day and night and day with no darkness. I felt happy. In fact, I felt so good that I went and wrote my thoughts about it in the place where I store those kinds of thoughts.
While there, I noticed that I had a link to some BYU speeches there as well. I spent the next hour reading talks by prophets. I feel that fullness of the spirit that I haven’t really experienced since my mission. It’s that feeling of the spirit that is full of power – practically overwhelming as it blankets me in a strange combination of peace for the now and excitement for things to come.
It’s great to really immerse yourself into the spiritual and ignore the world for a while.