Thursday, August 23, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Childhood Friend

Today death appeared in my inbox. I was at work when I received an e-mail from an old mission companion notifying me that a mutual friend of ours had been murdered. It was a weird sensation to realize that the news story I kept hearing about on the radio about a body found in an LDS parking lot now had a name and a face put to it, and it was a childhood friend who was like my little brother growing up. 

As I sat there processing the information, I remembered having had the thought in the last week or two that death isn't something that really gets to me like a lot of people, that I can accept it for what it is, and while obviously saddened for the loss of loved ones, it's not a terrible thing. But THIS, this did get to me. I felt my heart grow heavy immediately, and I realized that this IS a terrible thing! 

I think that too often I allow myself to think that I'm more in control of myself and my emotions and my environment than I really am, and I think that I am able to do this because very rarely do I come up against circumstances where this mental illusion is challenged. It's easy to feel removed and unattached when reality is not right there, standing in your path demanding honesty.  The truth is that I'm NOT in control. I'm not in control of my environment and all the forces that are involved in it. Sure I can safeguard myself, and sure I can make decisions that shape my future and events in my life, but things can change in an instant as Mike found out last night as he had has life taken from him, and hearts can be devastated as his friends and family found out this morning upon the delivery of the heart-breaking news.  I'm not in control of my feelings either. Sure it's one thing when a grandparent passes away who has lived a full life and you have time to deal with and cope with inevitable. I don't necessarily feel the need to be heartbroken in circumstances such as these. BUT situations like these are hard to accept with a glad heart because I know that last night the world was cheated yet again. 

I haven't spoken to Mikey in years, and I haven't been close with him since we were kids, but I know who Mikey was when we were kids, and from reading people's comments on Facebook, it's apparent that he stayed his kind, fun-loving self up until his last breath. The world is ALWAYs cheated to have a person like Mike taken from it, and it truly is an event to be mourned, and an experience that no family or friend should have to cope with...and yet so many do have to find their way through these tragically dark times in which there must often appear to be no light at the other end. Knowing that Mike's family was cheated of many more years of memories and experiences with them just makes me want to cry out for them as I imagine the heartache and grief that they must be going through right now.   Time will move on and eventually the hurting and the pain of Mike's loved ones will subside and eventually heal if they turn to the Lord and seek his comfort, but I have no doubt that Mike will always be remembered by those whose lives he touched as he brought cheerfulness to those around him.

Michael Workman 

(10-28-86 to 08-23-12)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Melodic Mystery

A beautiful, still summer night, I'm driving down a back country road. Windows down, sun roof open, a warm yet refreshing night breeze flows through the car. A familiar yet unknown melody of a classical composition plays in the background. On a familiar path traveled much before, yet still uncertain of what might emerge at the end of my headlight's beams as the unknown presents itself. It doesn't matter. For this short stretch of road, everything feels as it should. For a brief few minutes, everything is in harmony.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Still summer nights with just the right breeze are my favorite therapeutic relief when life is weighing me down. Weight lifted.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

You know you're a cheese ball when...

It literally makes you sad that Winnie and Kevin, from the tv show The Wonder Years, don't end up together...and it never gets any easier every time you watch the concluding episode.

I'm not admitting to anything. Only sayin'...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Enoch Letters Quotes

Unbeknownst to me, Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote a short book called The Enoch Letters. It follows the same idea as The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  Elder Maxwell's book is much shorter and all but the last letter are from the pen of the character Mahija who becomes one of the residents of the city of Enoch. I highly recommend reading it as it's a short, fun, but very poignant collection of principles and lessons. Here's a few of the quotes that stuck out to me:

"Each of us must not not only renounce evil, disengaging from doing wrong, but we must also engage anxiously in doing much good. Only then can a mighty change occur."

"the subtle and wonderous efficiency of righteous unity is found in the manner in which it moves each man to do more than he ever imagined, or even wanted, to do himself. Seeing others pass a supposed breaking point without breaking , going a second mile with a burden they are only required to carry one mile, witnessing those falsely accused persist in sweet patience--there is a clear contagion in such things."

"rules are useful...but these must merely mark where the borders of conscience end. Rules have a way of pushing conscience back, and yet farther back...a lively conscience can cut through to the justice of any situation."

"Repentance takes care of the past, faith in the future, and the Holy Ghost helps us with today."

"As I involve myself in the give and take of life here, I first check for the presence of pride in the midst of my emotions. Often when I feel wounded, upon sober reflection, I see that it is my pride, not a principle, that is the cause."

"Undivided, we are multiplied"

"To dissent merely to display one's freedom would be a mark of one's bondage to pride. "

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Voluntary Imprisonment

See the creepy mime above? Look ridiculous? Yeahhh, lil bit. You might even be thinking to yourself, "never going to see me do that!" Don't be so quick with the pronouncments, my friend.

We live in a land and culture that glorifies freedom. Freedom from oppression, freedom to seek out new opportunities, and the freedom to live our lives how we want to.  Sure not everyone has the same playing field, but we're also not stuck by social rules into a caste system. The freedom is there to overcome the odds of poverty, barriers to education, and other disadvantages that we may have been dealt. If you're religious, there's a good chance that your spiritual outlook is also based around freedom. Freedom from appetites, freedom from temporal things, and freedom from anything that holds us back from true happines and peace, what some might even refer to as nirvana.

So what's freedom got to do with a creepy guy (No offense, Mr. Mime) in an imaginary box? Look a little closer. Recognize yourself yet? Okay, so let's hope that isn't really you. If it's a family member, I apologize.  Obviously that's not literally you, but I bet that if you think for a while, you can figure out a specific time in life, or maybe even a certain ongoing area(s) of your life where you do put yourself into an imaginary box (I ain't hatin' if you've put yourself in literal boxes for entertainment. I'm just as guilty as the next. What? It's been a rough economy, alright?). So why do we do it?! What a juxtaposition of mindsets! Where is the logic here? "I want to be free so I can limit myself?" What is it about human nature that dares to envision uninhibited range of motion in our lives, and at the same time allows ourselves to entrap ourselves into these imaginary, and closed in spaces?

It literally breaks my heart to see good, genuinely kind people hurt themselves by submitting themselves to the same inflictions time after time. Whether it be destructive addictions like pornography, drugs, alochol, etc. it makes me sick inside to see these people turn back to what never has brought them happiness and what never will. Especially those who find themselves going back to the same type of individuals for relationships, because they don't see that there's so much more out there. It doesn't seem to matter how badly they were hurt before.

I know there's a lot of psychological theory behind these types of situations, and it's not as easy as just walking away a lot of the time. But I'd argue that a lot of the time we only contain ourselves in these restricted parameters because we don't really know what we're looking for, and maybe we're too scared to really take the time to find out. As much as we like to talk about the grandiosity of freedom, maybe just maybe we're more comfortable with set boundaries of those things which we've experienced. Maybe it's time we as humans start doing away with boxing ourselves in, and instead start learning to box the junk in our lives out.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The End of the Arrogance

So I ripped off my title from the song "The End of the Innocence". Now it's stuck in my head...but I digress...

Last week was a very interesting week for me. It had me feeling extremely humbled and doubting myself due to some occurrences and situations in my life that just were not going my way.  Oddly enough, in that same week that I was feeling unlike my usually pretty confident self, I was told by one person that I come across as being arrogant, and was then told by someone else that another person had called me arrogant very recently.  Needless to say, I found some irony in the fact that I was told I am perceived by multiple people as being arrogant during a week when I felt much less sure of myself than I even usually do.

The thing that struck me odd about people's perceptions that I am arrogant is that one just has to be around me a few minutes in a casual setting to realize that I'm not that way at least I hope that's all it takes.  I'm a goofy person who doesn't mind ridiculing myself in good humor, and I make it a point to try not to be prideful, and I thought I was doing a fairly decent job at it. It could be that my silent demeanor in some cases is misconstrued as not wanting to socialize, but I find that hard to believe since the only time that I really am quiet is when I'm around a girl that I really like and all the sudden can't find anything worthwhile to say. Who knows? I do realize that often times, those who are quick to peg others as being arrogant, only do so because they're insecure themselves...well, I guess a lot of the time, people really ARE just arrogant. Either way, my feelings aren't hurt. I just won't descend from my level to bother mingling with them....ohhhhhhh, now I see it! :D

Monday, January 30, 2012

Words for me to live by....

I'm a laid back person for the most part, but certain things can infuriate me as if a switch was flipped. I don't like it, but it's something that will be a lifelong challenge to conquer, it seems. I just came across this poem and find it very wise:

School thy feelings, O my brother;
Train thy warm, impulsive soul.
Do not its emotions smother,
But let wisdom’s voice control.
School thy feelings; there is power
In the cool, collected mind.
Passion shatters reason’s tower,
Makes the clearest vision blind. …
School thy feelings; condemnation
Never pass on friend or foe,
Though the tide of accusation
Like a flood of truth may flow.
Hear defense before deciding,
And a ray of light may gleam,
Showing thee what filth is hiding
Underneath the shallow stream.
School thy feelings, O my brother;
Train thy warm, impulsive soul.
Do not its emotions smother,
But let wisdom’s voice control.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Close out the noise

So there I was sitting in Sacrament meeting today, and I had a cool experience happen. It's that experience that brings with it an "Ooohhhhh, I'd never really thought of that before" type of feeling.  The Sacrament was being passed around and the doors to the chapel were closed, when all of the sudden the crowd outside in the foyer began to get very loud.  This isn't a new scenario since it happens on a frequent basis, BUT the thought that came to my mind WAS new to me.

As I was sitting there, I thought how about how loud the people outside were and that it took away from the reverence of the Sacrament. Then I thought about how it was good that we had the doors closed, or else the noise would be significantly louder than it already was. Not deep enough for you? Yeah yeah, just listen where I'm going with I thought about how the doors helped to close out noise and create a more sacred and reverent atmosphere, I thought about those who were outside in the foyer who would partake of the Sacrament, were not getting out of the experience what those who were within the confines of the chapel were able to, due to the noise that surrounded them; a noise that was not being muffled or lessened by anything.  Often times, the individuals who are out there are those who were not able to make it on time and as a result had to wait until the Sacrament was over before entering the chapel.  This made me think of the 10 virgins, those who were prepared and were able to enter in when the time came, and those were not able to due to lack of preparation, procrastination, and other choices.

As I sat there in the chapel I thought to myself, how the Sacrament, and the closing of the doors is actually a very symbolic ordinance of closing out the world and drowning out the noise, allowing ourselves to tune into the still, small voice of the Spirit that often times we do not hear as we are in the midst of all the noise around us.  By making certain choices, we place ourselves in this situation once a week to be able to  focus on the Savior and renew our covenants with Him, while dwelling in an atmosphere where the Spirit can speak to us, thereby affording us the possibility of greater peace, and happiness than we would find outside of the sanctuary, albeit a brief one.

Anyway, I guess it's not really deep, and I'm sure that this has dawned on many people before, but it was a cool experience because today I had the opportunity to benefit from the reverence of the a environment in which I found myself, thanks to making good choices.  It was a welcome experience.

Friday, January 6, 2012

They weren't lying...

So, I drank a "5 Hour Energy Drink" around 10:30 p.m. because I knew I'd need to stay up a while studying for my last final that I'm FINALLY taking tomorrow. Problem is, I decided about three hours into studying that I'd take my chances on the final tomorrow. Tried going to sleep. Turns out that true to their word, I'm getting every minute out of the 5 hour promise. Obviously I had to take a few minutes to peruse the blog world and good old Facebook before I give in and return to studying. I hope everyone else is sleeping well!