Sunday, April 29, 2012

Catching Up and Looking Forward

I feel like I have reached a moment in my life where it is the calm before the storm, the starting line just before the gun sounds, the beginning of something greater.  Because of that, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back and see how far I have come in accomplishing my goals for the year.

Well I wanted to keep my grades up and even though I had my lowest GPA I have ever received at BYU, which still happens to be above a 3.00 but not by much, I got a scholarship for next year.  I have applied for graduation and I also have signed up to take the GRE and GMAT sometime this summer intermingled with my internship back at NxStage Medical again... so far so good on my goals.  I was close enough to say that those ones were met but not in the exact way I anticipated.  I also have bought my plane ticket for my vacation this summer to go see Tatiana over in Australia.  I should be there for about a week in the beginning part of July but the tickets are bought and there is no turning back.  At the same time, she and I have gotten very serious in our relationship and if things continue to go well, there is a high chance that we may be married before the year is through so I feel like I have been richly blessed, as there is nothing that I could have done to anticipate or deserve the chance to meet her and fall in love.

The last two or three goals are more of perpetual goals that deal more with creating strong, healthy habits, so I definitely feel like there is a lot more I can do in that regard.  I can always read my scriptures more and pray more often.  I definitely can use the exercise and there are always different ways I can improve my health.  It is one thing to say that you roll out of bed in the morning and it is another thing to physically have to do it.  I am not that bad quite yet but if I am playing to head to Australia, it would be nice to have a beach body even though it will be their winter, just in case.

Anyways, during this down time I have been working a lot and when I am not working, I am thinking.  I have often wondered how my life is going to pan out.  Am I going to be able to figure things out?  I will need to figure out how to work out where and how to deal with medical insurance, minimize and pay bills and taxes, what Master's programs I want to apply for and if I am eligible, and just a variety of other things.  Will I be a good husband?  Will I remember to do all the little things like I used to?  Will I remember to make sure that we will discuss things that need to be decided together so I will not make any hasty decisions but will have already checked with my wife if certain decisions need her opinion and approval.  Will I remember to be mindful of her and her feelings and emotions?  I will need to be teachable so that I will learn many different things about her and how it is to live together as a couple.  And I haven't even touched the surface when it comes to expanding our family to include children.

I realize that to expect us both as individuals and as a couple to remain the same is foolish.  We are always changing and I need to be looking for those changes.  When we have life-changing events together, such as graduating from college, being accepted into a particular program, a serious job offer, moving to a different home, marriage, starting a family, the list is endless... but when those events occur and they will, I need to be aware that things will be different.  I do not say this next thing out of pride but out of self-awareness, but I am a very giving person and do very little or ask very little for myself.  I pamper the ones I love and it makes me happy, but in any healthy relationship, things need to be mutual to some degree.  In these life-changing moments, I need to recognize that I will need to be there to support her but I hope that she in turn will recognize that I will need her to support me just as much and I need to let her.  If we really are to love and cherish one another for eternity, we need to serve but also give the opportunity for our spouse to serve us as well.  One of them can not make it without the other but it is by working together and complimenting each other's personalities through the strengths and weaknesses that both people possess that will allow happiness and love to grow in the relationship.  And of course it will be easier said than done.

Back to the present though, I feel like I have had many different things happen in my life that I can count as real blessings.  I have the opportunity to work this summer, I have achieved and progressed in many of my goals, I am healthy and happy (some of the time according to my parents...), and I am in a beautiful relationship with my very best friend who loves me as much as I love her.  Things are certainly not easy but my life has shown me that I should never expect them to be.  There are too many variables, too many experiences and lessons that we need to learn, life is something that in order to be happy and to have those moments where you can feel true and utter joy, we will have to choose to do hard things.  Success is not defined in always accomplishing those things that we set out to do but in progressing and learning as we try and give our best effort.  It is in investing ourselves in the things that we do.  In the end, I am sure you can tell that there are a lot of things that are changing in my life over the next couple of months.  I am just praying and hoping that I will be able to keep up and everything will work out in the end.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Great Machine

I sometimes am able to find a movie that really speaks to me or gives me hope.  A film that carries a message that tells me to never give up and to keep trying.  Something that helps me remember that there are always things out there in life, like our dreams, that are worth fighting for.  These movies don't typically come along too often but when they do they stick with a person.  Hugo was that kind of movie for me.  I loved it so much that I am only going to share two quotes from it and I will do my best to avoid spoiling the story while still sharing the beautiful imagery that is depicted so eloquently on the movie screen.

The story follows a young orphaned boy who was the son of a clock maker and his journey of self-discovery and friendship.  Each major and minor character that he meets along the way has that similar journey and it is interesting to watch as their tales are completely interwoven and eventually climax to a realization of purpose.  In this quote, the main character Hugo describes his perception of the world that he gained in life by learning from the experiences he had growing up with his late father.

"I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine.  Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need.  So I figured if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part.  I had to be here for some reason.  And that means you have to be here for some reason too."

It is amazing to watch how each person really does play a part in the life story of all the other characters.  There really is no hero or villain if you look at it as a whole but instead each person has to come to realize that they are not defined by what life has dealt to them but in what they make of it through the decisions that they choose which help them to see outside of their original limited individual perspectives.  As I said before, it is a beautiful story of self-worth and discovering one's purpose through following your dreams.

"Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do... Maybe it's the same with people.  If you lose your purpose... it's like you're broken."

I think after watching this story, we need to more greatly appreciate the people around us in our lives.  The individuals that we may see as good or bad are in the very simplest sense just people who are struggling like you and me to understand what they were meant to do in life.  But if you watch closely, we all seem to find that meaning through the help and love of others.  Some can call it guidance, others can call it example, but I call it passion and love.  Maybe it is the deeply rooted romantic in me but as I watch this movie I can see how charity and compassion are able to help lift up the broken-hearted and heal the wounds that we can and cannot see.  It really is a beautiful story.  But even more than that I can relate this story to my own life.

I feel like I have always been a person that who has a great capacity to love and understand people.  I think I can say that I have a talent for being able to listen and to express how I feel in such a way that people are able to accept me for who I am and are then willing to hear what I have to say in return.  But along with that great capacity to love is what some may see in me as a trusting nature that is almost blind.  And along the way, I can say that it may have led to me making mistakes or getting hurt, and at times I held onto scars that I did not have to carry.  But then after that it takes a special person to come into your life that will help you realize things that you always knew and I can not remember who was able to help me realize that I could let go of those kinds of things but I will be eternally grateful.  On the other hand we are prone to forget and just as important as it is to have someone teach you or show you these kinds of important life lessons, there are people who are equally important to us because they consistently help us to remember them.

I feel like I have met someone who is able to do this for me.  Someone who is able to help me to always remember my own self worth, to see the good in me, and that loves me for who I am and who I am becoming.  Just like the characters in the movie where there were individuals who were able to bring out the best in one another, I feel like Tatiana is able to do that for me.  I don't know why I always seem to end up relating everything I do or experience lately to her but maybe it is because we are so similar or because I can never get her off of my mind.  I honestly don't know.  All I do know is that I have never loved so deeply and had such a connection to another person who inspires me to be better, that drives me to be better, and loves me so unconditionally, as she does.  I am grateful for the blessing that she has been in my life and the wonderful experience it has been to continually get to know her and love her.  And in turn, have a similar experience with the relationship that I have been developing with myself.  She is more than a muse or even my best friend.  She is a miracle that has made my life have real meaning.  Things do not happen by chance but by choice.  Where have been led up to this point as the resulting summation of the consequences from the decisions we have made personally.  And I don't know all the cogs and gears that made up my version of this great machine called life but I would go through all the joy and sorrow a hundred times over if it meant that in the end I would again find myself loving her.

The message I took away from this relatively short film was this... No matter what happens or whatever you may be faced with, you have the choice to define your own future.  And if you are willing to sacrifice everything for the ones you love, then in the end you will discover what your purpose really is through that sacrifice.  You are able to discover what is of true worth and value to you.  We were never meant to be alone and it is through the happiness of others that we find real joy.  Love, sacrifice, and joy are all intimately connected so that the only way to find a fullness of any one of them you must put forth every effort in achieving them all.  Just like the cogs and wheels and gears of a clock, none of us are truly independent of one another.  We need one another and by working together we will find all these virtues and also a purpose in the Great Machine.

Friday, April 6, 2012

General Conference

Only twice a year do we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints get to listen to all of the living prophets and apostles speak to the whole world about topics which through much study and prayer have been revealed to them as the things we need to hear right now at this time. I am always excited for General Conference and it is sad to hear other people who weren't able to get anything out of it or didn't make the time to take advantage of this gift. I was walking home from campus today and I overheard a few people talking about it saying that what is the point when they always seem to say the same thing every time.

It is said to think that we have so many individuals in the Church who don't understand the principles behind revelation. The word itself means to reveal or disclose facts, many times associated with man receiving this information from a divine or supernatural agency or source. I typically don't go into definitions but let's think about this for a moment... If revelation is about revealing or disclosing information typically that would mean that the recipient would need to be seeking or searching for that information. I remember being taught from a young age to always go to the temple and also to prepare for conference by coming with questions in mind. These questions didn't always have to deal with doctrine or the gospel but could be about my life and the actions or direction that I need to take. The point is that if I am not able to get anything out of a meeting it is because I hadn't prepared myself to be looking and listening for answers because sometimes the answers that we get aren't to the questions that we had originally asked.

The beauty of conference is the fact that the messages haven't changed all too much over time. God hasn't given up on us quite yet because I am sure that from personal experience I haven't mastered everything he has asked of me up to this point. Another little miracle is the fact that you can't take the messages that they share at face value either. Depending on where I am in life, I have different concerns or questions and many times you can listen to conference and get all of your questions answered. It is a miracle that the same talk that touched me or helped me can do the same thing for a completely different person with completely different concerns. What these men speak is modern day revelation, in essence living scripture. It should be no surprise then that people are able to have experiences similar to mine. Am I perfect and always feel spiritually enlightened at every meeting and always have that the feeling that the Spirit is with me? If I did, God would have taken me home and risen me up by now so by the fact that I am typing this means that by no stretch of the imagination am I there yet. But the point I am trying to make is that if you are wanting, desiring, and really trying to improve then you will always have questions and you will always have the potential to receive this kind of revelation. The greatest blessing is that the more you search it out and learn to recognize it, then the more that it will continue to come as long as you are willing to follow it.