30 October 2010

My Struggle

I'm surprised it took so long, but I finally got the serious letter. I would suppose every missionary reaches a point of spirituality that they begin to desire everyone close to them become the same. Now this post I'm sure will demonstrate an utter lack of faith on my part, but that can't be remedied at the current time.

Here's and excerpt from this week's letter:

"...have you been going to church? I don't want to be a nag, but here's my train of thought: if we get married, there is no reason it wouldn't be in the temple. So it would be best if you were thinking about preparing for that. Even if it's another couple of years down the road, it would good to be thinking about it, so that it means something to you. I don't want you going to the temple just for me..."

I've never been directly confronted with this issue, I think it's just one of those things that everyone just assumes all members are on the same page about. However, temple marriage is one of the things I've never had a testimony about. While I wasn't on a mission I began to plan a life that involved marrying a non-member, mostly because at the time a majority of girls who still accepted me as an upright young man fit in that pool. To be honest, all that time, the idea of not getting married in the temple was not disturbing to me, in fact I didn't think twice about it. Maybe it's lack of faith, maybe it's ignorance, maybe it's the number of temple marriages(including that of my parents) I have observed fail for the same reasons temporal marriages fail. I have always assumed I'd just go along with whatever my wife wanted, it is HER day after all.

Now, Hannah has placed it in front of me. I guess temple marriage has never seemed of all that importance to me because it occurs to me that the #1 priority in marriage should be to have a happy, successful, and loving marriage, and everything else can follow that. I've felt that, just like being an RM doesn't guarantee a perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, a temple marriage doesn't guarantee a perfect, or even a good, marriage.

I consider myself a very analytical person, while I am very creative, I crave facts and figures to make educated decisions, I've never been able to "feel" an answer, answers just eventually make sense though logic and rational thought. It's hard for me to say I desire a temple marriage when I don't even know what a temple marriage truly is. I feel like all of my information is the same as they feed you in primary, you promise to live worthily and in return you get to be with your spouse for eternity. If it's so simple, why all the mystery around what goes on in the temple? I struggle with the idea I'll be inundated with a vast amount of information at the last minute, and that I'll be making a very important life decision without all of the information. It's the same issue I have with endowments, when Hannah got hers I had so many questions, unfortunately she was unable to answer any of them, and simply replied, "You'll find out when you go for your own." In my way of thinking, this seems to make no sense, how can I commit to something so important when I can't know what I'm committing to until I've already committed to it?

In retrospect, I even wonder about my baptism. Do I regret getting baptized at eight? No, but I sometimes wish I had waited until I fully understood what it was that I decided to do. Looking back I feel like I decided to get baptized because it was expected of me, and that's what all of the other kids my age were doing, so it must be right. Sometimes I feel like the same concept applies for 19 year-olds deciding to go on a mission, or other young people going to the temple together. Do I go because I KNOW it's right? Or because it's what I'm supposed to do, or expected to do.

To this, most people simply say, "Have faith, and you'll know what to do." When I hear this I always think of when Obi-Wan tells Luke to put on the Blinder and to reach out with his feelings:

Crappy quality I know, nevertheless, I wonder after watching this clip, am I Luke or am I Han? Do I want to have, but lack the courage to "let go"? Or do I depend too much on myself alone for my own good?

28 October 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

As much as I HATE winter(or Fall because it inevitably leads to Winter) I do have to say, outside of whether, this is one of my favorite times of the year.  You may be wondering, "WoaSM, if you hate Fall and Winter, how can any part of Fall be your favorite?"  Well, let me tell you:

First, in my family, Halloween officially starts the "Holiday Season."  It's a big one for my family, as long as I can remember, everyone including Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, and Cousins, have gotten together for the Big 3: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  This Halloween I'm really excited, when it comes to costumes, everyone is trying to out-do each other, I'm very proud of my costume, I'd really like to show you, especially those who doubt the true extent of my geekdom.  However, my parents and siblings have played the trump-card this year, I'll admit they've got me beat.  I'm not joking about the seriousness of Halloween, though, I've already got next year's costumes planned out.

Next, It's college football season.  I wouldn't consider myself a sports fanatic, but there are certain events that I always watch.  I love college football but can't really stand the NFL, it's pretty weird.  Most Saturdays during Fall and Winter are spent watching games all day, which is probably why my dating-life grinds to a halt, during this time of year, and could also contribute to why only two of my relationships have survived an entire Winter(Hannah and ashley), but of course that's another story for deeper into the Winter.  Anyway, I love college football, it's a lot of fun to watch those guys play with their hearts on the line every game, I mean when was the last time you saw a Pro cry after losing a close game only four games into the season?

Finally, it's baseball post-season time, at this point we're into the World Series.  Baseball has taken up about 17-18 years of my life at this point, I really love to play.  Sometimes watching is difficult, so I usually don't watch religiously until the post-season.(On a side note: I think this makes me quite the catch, I'm a sports-loving manly-man, but it doesn't absorb my whole life(except the World Series and College Football Bowl Season, at least.).)  This year I'm digging the Rangers, I love Josh Hamilton, he's a great player and a cool guy with an inspiring story.  Also I like Cliff Lee, really I'm behind any team that has a quality, Left-handed, finesse pitcher in the rotation.  I know a lot of people dislike baseball because it's boring or slow-paced, but as a pitcher I love the strategy and the doublethink in the pitcher-batter battle.

In a nutshell the answer to your question would be that while I seriously hate Fall for many reasons: It's murder of Summer, the cold, the snow, the short days, and lack of direct sunlight, many of my favorite things exist in this time of year.

23 October 2010

Express Checkout

When you live in Utah dating is a little different, everything moves double-time.  When people here find out I have a missionary one of the first questions is "Are you two going to get married when she gets home?"  My normal response is "That's a good question..." then try to find a reason to get away.  Originally I'd explain to people how being apart for a year-and-a-half is a long time, anything could happen, Hannah could come home permanently different in ways that don't fully appeal to me.  This results in my favorite Utah-Mormon cultural phenomenon, something I refer to as Mormon-eyes.  I don't know if it's reached the outside yet, but when interacting with each other many Mormons have perfected a certain look, I would describe it as disappointment with a dab of abhorrence, lightly frosted with an attempt to hide the whole concoction.

I became very familiar with the look between the ages of 19 and 21, whenever anyone asked my age at church, following my response was a brief pause before the look was administered, I knew why, they were realizing that, at my age, I shouldn't be here, I should be in a far-off land serving a mission.  The look was a big contributor to my year of inactivity.  After that I was able to avoid the look, probably because once I hit 22 most people assume that a nice, clean-cut boy like me is an RM and don't bother asking.  The next time I got the look was after Hannah and I had been dating for about a year and she started to work on her mission papers.  Luckily these looks were exceedingly rare, it took quite a few questions before people had enough information for me to warrant the look.  Most of the time it came after the question of how serious it was, or if we had discussed marriage, and  had explained that Hannah would soon be leaving for 18 months, I'm sure it was quite the shock since it seems not formally discussing marriage in a year of seriously dating seems to constitute blasphemy.

One thing that made me sad was knowing that, even though she had made a decision that we both felt was right, Hannah was getting the look as well.  I remember Hannah coming home one night after one of her first meetings with the bishop about her mission, she told me how many of the questions were regarding herself and I, the nature of our relationship, our plans, all related to why she was going on a mission rather than getting married.  Even I got the look whenever I joined her at her family ward, I bet the members there were sure a wedding was imminent after a year of dating. 

Some nights I wonder if I should've just done what everyone told me I should do, but I think supporting Hannah in her choice to go really was the best idea.  I mean, waiting hasn't been that hard when I think about it.  While I get really whiny about it sometimes it's never really all that serious, it's not like I'm dying, or even that I'm going to cry, sometimes I think I whine about Hannah being gone just because the part of me that isn't "dead inside" tells me I should, but what does it know?

05 October 2010


I am studying, for maybe the 10th time in my life.  I hate studying, it never seems to work for me.

The truth is, I've never needed to study, I probably don't even need to study right now.  I'm that guy in class that everybody hates.  I quietly walk in to class, write about 15 lines of notes during a 90 minute class, then quietly leave, and still I get a higher score on the exam than you.  Heck, without studying I got the highest score at my high school on the state Physics competency test.  I didn't even study for the test that most people consider the most important you take, the ACT(the inter-mountain/west coast version of the SAT) on which I got a 29(equivalent to a 1960 SAT according to Google).  All through elementary and middle school my teachers told my parents how I was probably some kind of genius, but that I never fully applied myself.

My aforementioned ACT score did, however, plant the seed of self-doubt.  I realized that, while I did get an awesome score, it wasn't a perfect score.  I began to think back through my life, trying to think of a time where I could honestly tell myself that I did my best but I couldn't think of a single one.  Not in school, sports, or other activities, I was perfectly content on allowing natural talent to carry me, and settle only for 'above-average'.

Not doing my best, I have slowly realized, has plagued my entire life.  Even writing this blog made painfully obvious that I failed with Liz something, at the time, I wanted more than anything else, because I was only willing to give enough.  Even now I wonder, with Hannah gone, have I taken her for granted as well?  As I lay in bed, before sleep takes me, I am bombarded by memories that I could have made better, then wonder, does Hannah feel the same way when she remembers?

I remember those old cartoons, when an important decision arose a small angel appeared on one of the character's shoulders while a devil appeared on the other, both attempting to gain sway over the decision.  There have been times looking back that I feel like I've heard those voices, those persuasive debates, in one corner: the voice of enough, the voice of laziness; in the other: the voice of perfection, urging me to do great things.  In reality, they aren't voices at all, there are no tiny creatures whispering in my ears, in fact it is only my conscience telling me what I should do, opposed to the rationale of doing just enough.

Sometimes I feel like I already have enough regrets to fill a life time, and I know it's because I've never given my best, never reached my true potential.  This is why I've been laboring to do my best, because I've seen enough of the alternative.  I want to know my potential, how can I know if it's not boundless?  I want to be someone worth being, someone worth being with.  Enough with enough.