6.30.2016

an old friend

i've been writing again.

it's a beautiful sort of discovery, to keep words bottled up for so long and then spill them out again when the sky provokes it.

here's to vulnerability and the beauty of our own personal stories.

12.30.2015

on falling

originally written december 12, 2014 | 6:27pm
i wrote it last year a few weeks after it happened and found it in my drafts again, this past december 12.
today i decided i should publish it this year.

we saw a small pine tree in the distance.
it was about halfway across the field, surrounded by big pines, now silhouetted against the last remains of what was an exquisite sunset, a few minutes previous.
the small tree was different; unlike its comrades, it was decorated in white christmas lights.

everyone else was surrounding it, our extended family of 12 or so, and we were the last to arrive.
it was quite a sight to behold; a tiny wonder among the mundane.
i walked toward it with my sister, her little son giggling and trotting alongside us.

her son, my youngest nephew, caught my attention. a smile tugged at the corners of my mouth.
he was in a hoodie that seemed like it was too small to exist (but fit him perfectly)
and jeans and little boots.
a few of the smaller of his cousins ran from the tree to greet us,
which made him giggle and squeal with joy.
they beckoned him toward the tree.

i watched as he gained speed; trying to keep up with his cousins -- small, but all older than him.
he was so happy as he gained momentum approaching the glowing tree -- ecstatic, hands flailing, short little legs running at their full capacity. so joyous. so excited!

then suddenly, his foot caught under him and he fell forward
his hands weren't fast enough to catch him, so he skidded onto the leafy ground.

it was mostly dark, and i couldn't see what exactly his obstacle was.
but i had been caught in his joyful moment just a second before
so when he fell, i was totally shocked.

like when you hear a grand piece of music, and you're invested and moved and soaring with the rhythm --
and then suddenly the conductor just halts the sound.

his fall was abrupt;
how could he fall?
he was so close to the tree!

all this flew through my mind in an instant,
but before i could move to act, he looked up toward the tree,
that winning smile on his face, giggled and struggled for a second to get up--
then he continued to run again full speed toward his destination,
his cousins still cheering him on.

i blinked.
and then blinked again.
realized i was blinking away a tear.

what the...? why--?
nope, i told myself firmly.
i hurriedly gained composure and continued toward the tree.

by this time, our little crew was sauntering toward our picnic spot (underneath a lamppost in the now-dark park).

my littlest nephew had now surpassed the tree, giggling and running in the opening beyond it.
my sister was doing her best to keep up though she had bags in tow.

i stood there alone at the tree, not quite knowing what to think.
why had his little tumble affected me so quickly, to the point of emotion?

he's a little boy.
i mean, they fall.
like...all the time.

but he had looked so victorious just a moment before, face bright and eyes on the glow ahead,
then all the sudden all he could see was the dark, cold grass.
it didn't seem fair.
but what did he do after?
he giggled.
i wondered if he realized that falling wasn't supposed to be in the plan of that victorious little kodak moment.

and then i realized: it is supposed to be in the plan.
and sometimes falling is the plan.
it's how my nephew got up that was most impressive.

you see, my nephew struggles with about 11 different cranial and neurological conditions.
he has to wear these adorable little glasses so that he can see properly.
he has a depth perception problem, seizures, and at 3 years old, he still can't talk a lot. in fact, he barely officially joined the world of the walking this past summer.

but amidst all this, he's not bothered.
when he fell, he just giggled, observed his circumstances,
and then -- eyes on the tree, he struggled a bit to get up,
and started running again.

not even walking.
running.

why didn't he just walk, i thought to myself.
it's a lot less risky...
well, because he knew that running is much more fun, of course.
knowing full well (though maybe not cognitively comprehending) that he could fall again,
yet resuming his speed.

i stood there for a few minutes alone at that tree, watching my loving, patient gentle sister play with her son.
that's what it was: playing. she'd chase him and he'd run around, his little giggles echoing through the shadowy stretch of grass. and i observed him fall again; in fact he fell often. not a minute would go by where he wouldn't fall.

but he seemed unaffected by this;
this was all part of the game to him.
but it wasn't just part of the game,
it was part of his walking experience.

and so i realized:
falling is a part of our walking experience.

the more i stared,
the more i realized his perspective:
falling is not a setback; it is sometimes just what happens when you try to run.

and of course, when you have 11 different conditions that makes you not be able to function as properly as other kids your age.
conditions that create problems in vision, paralyzation, social anxiety, and a lot of other things.

but really, don't we all have 11 billion conditions we deal with throughout our lives?
are we not at times blinded by stress, paralyzed with depression, hiding anxiety, navigating faith crises, bearing a load that could topple us to our hands and knees over and over again?

yet oftentimes when we fall,
we are embarrassed,
ashamed,
feeling that one fall is a fail in our perfect beeline toward whatever glowing tree we deem worthy to run toward.

and so sometimes we get up,
looking around to see if anyone notices,
rubbing our new injuries and bruised ego
and start to saunter toward our destination.
if not grudgingly, at least a little less bushy-tailed.

other times it's easier to just stay on the ground.
less risk.

my eyes were (perhaps embarrassingly) wet a few more times as i observed him into the night.
of all the people, i thought, this extra-joyful, happy, LOVING little sweetheart of a kid would be the last person to deserve to have all these conditions and setbacks placed on him. yet he handles it like a champ.

but i realize it's not about what we deserve.
we all fall. and that’s okay.

d&c 122:8 

7.28.2015

letters from pain

prelude: i am thinking about this concept tonight in the midst of my migraine. this post came as a sort of stream of consciousness, stemming from only the idea of "letters from pain". i'm not much of an allegory writer, and this is mainly unedited. take from it what you'd like. 

dear human,

i know i can be cruel.

it has been said that you are exhaustible; i am inexhaustible.

this is true.

but if i were exhaustible, you could conquer me
and there your progression would cease.

from me, you may gain bitterness
and perhaps cynicism
and you may put up many walls.

but you would lose the chance to gain empathy
and sincere humility
and invalidate any need to search for strength.

there is a parable* that has been spoken -

a man asked his son to push a boulder.
the son, an obedient child, pushed and pushed an pushed. 

day in and day out. 
still, the boulder did not move. 

years unfolded. 
the son was determined and obedient.
still he pushed the boulder, 
but to no avail. 

finally, in a fit of ever-increasing frustration, 
the son decided he was finished. 
the boulder would never move. 

a man now, he tread back to his father
weary, frustrated, but above all, angry.

"father," the son exclaimed, "this boulder will. not. move.

"day after day, year after year i have pushed the boulder. 
still, it does not budge.
why would you make me push so hard, father, for an effort so fruitless?"

the father looked at his son, 
his eyes also weary,
but wise beyond the years of his son. 

"son," the father patiently spoke, 
"i never asked you to move the boulder, only to push it." 

his words were gentle but firm. 

dumbstruck, the son looked away, the shame of misunderstanding flushing his face. 

"but son", the father said, gesturing to the back window, "there's a different boulder out there. that is the one i want you to move." 

the son's eyes flashed up. 
this is the last thing he'd want to do. 
yet he was still obedient, almost beyond his will. 

without another glance at his father, he stomped out the back door
toward the second boulder, and pushed his shoulder against it,
almost in protest to prove he couldn't. 

he was surprised when the boulder moved with less strength than he had anticipated using. 
he looked back toward the window, 
and saw his father, 
a soft but knowing look on his face. 

you see, his father had never wanted him to move the first boulder; that boulder was a training ground to gain the strength required for the second boulder. the father knew that if the son would have known that the first was never to move, he would never have worked so hard to move it. it wasn't the movement itself, but the effort exerted in pushing the rock that gained the son the strength to move the second boulder. 

and so you see, i hold a use for you.
i am despised among most and am the downfall of many.

however, i am secretly the strength behind those who are strong.
only from fully exerting against me, the strength of pain, can they earn the strength to be strong.

*editor's note: this "parable" was extrapolated from an analogy my brother jonathan told me years ago. like many analogies he's told me, i've never forgotten it and it seems to come back at the most pertinent times. 

3.18.2015

i woke with these words on my mind

sleep got up before i did today,
and slowly slipped out the door.

he thought i'd not notice,
but how couldn't i?

because now i just think of him more.

3.16.2015

#changing

i come to this screen already knowing that words will be irrelevant to convey the awe i've been feeling in these last few minutes of reflection.

but i'm just so amazed and happy; i have to attempt to document something.

i had incredible sharing experiences this weekend.
i got to prepare for and teach relief society, have a good discussion about teaching, and also had a few really, incredibly good one-on-one conversations with incredible people.
like, mind-blowingly good.

i just got back from the most recent one.
i had a bad headache all day.
bottom line: i came back home from our chat with the most excruciating migraine i've had in a long time.
every time i get these i forget how bad they hurt.

but tonight, i can't even be bothered by it.
because it is an absolute testimony that God is in control.

--

the things that my friend and i discussed needed to be discussed.
currently i must acquiesce to some of the physical conditions placed on my body has right now,
but tonight God needed me to be stronger than my body would naturally physically allow
to relay a few things.

my mind was not working as hard as it would normally be during any other intellectually and spiritually stimulating conversation,
because it physically couldn't be
(or i would most likely vomit, or feel the need to as i do now).

instead, He just sort of took over and spoke through me.
when i needed to say something, the words flowed easily and naturally and effortlessly
like a stream flowing down a mountain.

i wasn't sure if any of it made sense,
but from what my friend expressed to me,
it was a perfectly matched conversation
which we probably both needed for different reasons.

and the cool thing is,
part of my contribution in this particular conversation was made up of parts of so many other conversations i've recently had.
conversions where i did have to strain to think and decidedly choose and craft words to convey thoughts, because i had the physical and mental capacity to do so.
which prepared me for this conversation.

and oh! oh, how others thoughts have become my own.
none of this was just "me".
i love when someone provides me words for something my soul has been trying to say.

i am convinced that on this earth, we create each other.

God has put us here to learn together,
to live together,
to teach each other--
because we are vessels through which He speaks
and because we provide each other the opportunity to become more
--more Us --
every day.

goodness, life is beautiful.
and so, so delightfully clever.

3.05.2015

everybody dance now

if anyone's wondering, 10:49pm is an excellent time to have a dance party by oneself in one's room.

and hey, there's still time for like a 10:53pm dance party in whatever room you're in, if you're quick to find a good song.

for that matter, whenever you read this is probably a good time for a personal dance party. probably. i wouldn’t even mind if you commented and told me what time you danced and to what song(s).

also, various derivatives of “dancing for no reason” are probably the only new years resolutions i have remembered and kept.
...so far.

and honestly i think it’s one of the most important ones.

also this may be the most literal blog post title i've ever written.

3.03.2015

psa: vulnerability apparently dwindles when you don't use it

you should be proud of me.
i have written a lot lately.
in fact, i have written eight complete blog posts.

...they're all tagged as "drafts" in my post queue from january 29 til now.
where has my courage gone?