Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Slap in the Face . . . From Myself

Every so often, I run across something past-me wrote that feels as though it chastises current me. Does this ever happen to anybody else? (I've been sorting through every piece of writing I've kept to see if there is anything I remember being humiliated about . . . for a writing assignment for Composition Theory, of course. And as I sort, I can't help reading.)

So here, from a six-and-a-half-years-younger me, is what made me feel chastised today. It's from something I wrote in a freshman honors writing class at BYU entitled "Unsolicited Solicited Advice from Me":

I can envision you in my mind. You are sitting at your desk with a blank sheet of paper laying in front of you in all of its bright, white glory. You hold a pen in your hand, but you aren't writing with it. You are fiddling with it, waiting for inspiration to strike you like an angry viper. You want lightning to strike you brain, and then you'll start writing things down. Why are you waiting, chump?

If I can give any advice, it's to stop sitting around on your rear end waiting for the hummingbird of inspiration to fly into your brain. Inspiration comes to those who earnestly seek it. It's just like praying for divine inspiration to help you in a decision you make. You don't sit around mulling over how much you need the inspiration. You get down on your knees and you pray your guts out. You do. You don't just think about doing. D&C 4:7 says, "Ask, and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you." Please note that it doesn't say, "Sit around waiting for God to tell you what in the heck you should be doing." No, indeed, this scripture advocates action.

Mixed metaphors aside (give a girl a break . . . like I said, that came for a six-and-a-half-years-younger me, and I like to think I've learned a few things since then), I was surprised at something the younger me viewed as fundamental that the older me has forgotten: in short, I have forgotten how to throw myself wholeheartedly into something. I've forgotten how to act first and think later.

These days I spend entirely too much time mulling, and I'm relatively certain that my insistence on massive amounts of mulling is what lands me in apathy- and passivity-land. The more I think about writing something--anything--the more crippled I feel when it comes to actually writing it.

So today, I'm going to remember something my 18-year-old self seems to have known, but somewhere along the line, my 24-year-old self forgot: I'm going to remember how to do. How to act. How to achieve. How not to wait.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Just Some Random Thoughts

I remember, as an undergraduate, telling my mom semesters usually "wound down" toward the end. Perhaps everything seemed more spaced out then. Of course, back in those days, I actually had to take a final test or two in my classes.

This semester, as it comes to an end, does not feel as though it is winding down: rather, it feels as though it winds up. It seems as though I have a multitudinous number of projects to accomplish in the next several weeks.

In all fairness, the project count tallies up to three or four, if I count the thery essay due this Friday. With, of course, homework assignments still occuring on a regular basis.

As time has progressed, I have sometimes wondered why I am doing this. But then I have a day or two of clarity, of knowing I'm exactly where I need to be . . . and then I soldier on. I have never been a person who backs down from a challenge, and I'm not about to start now.

Especially since, in the end, the achievements I struggle for always mean a lot more to me than the ones that come naturally.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thoughts After This Week's Relief Society Lesson

Yes, yes. This might more appropriately have been written on Sunday, but I didn't have time then. And I have time now. Or rather, to be more accurate, I am currently procrastinating my Composition Theory assignment for tomorrow. Actually, to be completely accurate, the process of writing this blog post will assist the mental activities required for the writing assignment for Comp Theory.

(The writing assignment, incidentally, is not the point: but it's an assignment to evaluate my own writing processes--how I formulate, how I edit, how I revise--and how those processes may vary from elective writing to school writing. If they vary. So here am I, writing something electively. And as I write, I'm evaluating myself. If I reach any conclusions I find worth sharing, I'll let y'all know at a later date.)

Anyway, the Relief Society lesson on Sunday was about gratitude. (Apropos, of course, since November is a month of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving with a capital T, of course, because every month of the year should be a month of thanksgiving.)

In the course of the lesson, the teacher drew a glass on the board and asked: "Is this half-full or half-empty?"

"It depends on your goal," a girl said. "If your goal is to empty it, then the glass is half-empty. But if your goal is to fill it, then your glass if half-full."

This response elicited a number of oohs and ahhs from girls who thought that particular insight was rather deep.

The teacher continued on, "This is like our blessings. So shouldn't we view it as half-full?"

While some of you may think, based on this blog, that I'm a particularly confrontational person, I don't like to cause big scenes in places like church. Or say anything that I think could potentially make someone feel bad. But not to put too fine a point on it: she was wrong.

If you don't believe me that she was wrong, please visit Psalms 23 and note that, when it comes to the gospel, our cups are never half anything. In fact, our cups are always overflowing. Heavenly Father doesn't do anything halfway. He didn't lead the Israelites halfway through the wilderness.

In fact, Heavenly Father likes things whole: He wants us to serve him with all of our might, mind, and strength. (As one of the sisters in the General Relief Society presidency put it during the Relief Society meeting a few years ago: he does not want us reading our scriptures with only one eye while tracking something else with the other, and he does not want us to pray with one eye closed and one eye opened . . . My older sister got a kick out of the idea of not reading the scriptures with one eye and elbowed me to let me know that I was obviously doomed since it's a physical impossibility for me to read with both eyes. But that's neither here nor there, which is probably why I included it in the parentheses.)

It may seem a technicality, but I thought it important to iterate to myself and now to you: our cups are running over. Always.

Not, mind you, that means people will always be grateful. Instead of whining about a half-empty glass, the most pessimistic people will find ways of whining about how a cup cannot contain all that water and, oh dear!, what a dreadful mess that's making . . .