Thursday, March 28, 2013

Interview

Last week, I went to Denver for a job interview. The interview was divided into two parts: a presentation on the first day and an actual interview on the second. After the presentation on the first day, I decided that the job wasn't for me. However, I was a few hundred miles away from home and had a rental car, a paper to write, and a whole day before my flight left.

So I did the only logical thing: cancel my interview and go drive around in the mountains by Denver to find inspiration for my paper.

Did you know that Buffalo Bill was buried 25ish miles west of Denver? I didn't before I saw the exit 246 sign (or thereabouts) loudly proclaiming so. My paper would just have to wait. The $5 spent at the Bill Memorial Museum may have been one of the best $5 I've spent.


I felt really weird being in the museum alone dressing up like Buffalo Bill, but I couldn't resist putting on at least a hat and boots. Yippee ki yay.

 Buffalo Bill's actual grave.

So after Buffalo Bill and a great view of Denver, I found the beautiful little town of Idaho Springs a few miles down the road. In addition to being quaint and quiet, it had a hippy-ish, natural feeling to it that felt very comfortable. I thought it would be a good place to write my paper, but it wasn't exactly nature, where I felt my muses would most easily come to me, so after seeing a bunch of outdoor stores, restaurants, an abandoned train, and a sign for organic frozen yogurt, I decided to move on.



So, I drove up into the mountains. The views were amazing, but the roads were still pretty bad. At one point, I got my car stuck in a snow bank. Fortunately, I met some really cool people from Nebraska and Iowa on vacation who took me down to a nearby ranger station where we got a shovel to dig my car out. Meeting new people and bonding with them in weird situations is one of the reasons why I love travel. By the time I got it out, it was about 4pm in the afternoon, and I still had no paper written. Given that it was 29 degrees outside and windy, with the sun starting to go behind the mountains, I figured that nature probably wasn't my best ally in getting my paper done.



So I drove back to Idaho Springs, found a Starbucks that had a nice, homey feel to it, and started working on my paper. As customers came in, the employees greeted a lot of them by name and chatted with them about hobbies, families, and life. It brought home the sense of community and family that small town America has and which we often and unfortunately lack in Provo. As I was walking back to my rental car, the sunset offered a view too magnificent to pass up.


I didn't end up getting much done on my paper, but I didn't care too much by the end of the day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Theodicy

And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.

And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore, they are agents unto themselves.

In my religion class this week, I learned a new word: theodicy. Theodicy is the attempt to reconcile the the existence of evil with the existence of an omnipotent and all-good God. I don't have a definite answer for the problem, but I think I'm starting to get something of an idea.

The above scriptures teach us that evil is a moral necessity; it is through evil that we are able to prize the good. Through the light of Christ we can know the difference the between good and evil, but it's through the experiencing of evil, sorrow, and pain that we appreciate and have a testimony of what is morally good. 

I recognize that this has its limitations and doesn't explain the existence of holocausts, massacres, and a host of other evil phenomena. It doesn't make sense that people would have to live through such horrible things just to learn to prize the good. But I know that for me, at least, heartache, disappointment, and suffering has simply been a part of the schooling necessary to make me into what I am today. And for that I am grateful.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Change

When I was serving in Strasbourg, I got really bad stomachaches that kept me inside all day. The apartment was shut down a few months after I left it because of mold- I'm sure our water fights in the apartment after hard days of proselytizing didn't help that situation. In any case, about once a month, I would spend the day in bed trying not to concentrate on the growling, persistent pain in my stomach. My companion at the time had brought (against the mission rules) this book:
 
I ended up reading the whole thing. Not much stuck with me, but I do remember in particular bits of the section on Taoism. I couldn't tell you much about the religion, but one principle in particular stood out to me: the principle of impermanence, the idea that life is in a constant state of flux. We are like rocks in a rushing stream being tossed and thrown; if we try to resist, we will be worn down and eroded away. However, by constantly adapting and going with the flow, we will not only avoid the wear and tear of the jostling of everyday life, the motion of the river will take us somewhere (where exactly, I'm not sure the book specified). 

In any case, it's a principle that helped me on my mission and since. Change is the only permanent feature of life- we change jobs, lost contact with friends, gain new ones, find hobbies, grow disinterested in others, and so on. The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth within our lifetime is never-ending. That's not something we can change; if we fight it, it'll simply wear us down. Instead, we must do all that we can, trust in God, and enjoy the ride down the river.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Creation

I've decided that I'm going to start blogging everyday, even if it's really short. Actually, it's probably a good thing that it'd be really short. I have a really short attention span when it comes to blogs.

Tonight, some friends and I went to the Springville Art Museum. Because it was college night, we got in free. The coolest part was the stations they had set up to draw and do watercolor. I spent about a half-hour trying to draw my foot. Lately, I've felt drawn towards creating things. Arabic and Economics are great, but I don't feel that same satisfaction with them that I do when I write a poem or try to draw something. Art and creation allows us to make sense of the world. We are surrounded by innumerable shades of color and light. Do we understand them? Our senses take in so much, but how much of it do we really process? What are the light patterns and contours that make my foot look like a foot? How do my senses depict its dimensions?

I think I'll do more art these days.