Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beginning A Study of Atonement

One of the things I am beginning to study right now in my free time is the Atonement.  The Atonement was one of the most influential and long lasting events to ever occur and impact mankind in the history of the world.  It in short was the life and death and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  He lived a perfect life as the Son of God.  He willingly laid down His life to suffer and die for the sins, pains, and afflictions of the world, taking on all and every kind of temptation that we will possess, but He did it for each and every one of us individually.  There is no person who has had to endure more and has been perfectly innocent.  The reason He committed to this sacrifice was out of love for all of us.  We would not be able to overcome the eternal consequences of our mistakes and so He offered himself a sacrifice for sin.  Then to expand this miracle of forgiveness to greater depths, He was able through His perfect obedience and His right as the Son of God to take back His own life and perform the resurrection.  This act alone means that all men and women who have ever lived, live, or will live have the free gift through His grace of immortal life.  We all shall live again after we pass on and we shall gain perfect immortal bodies, our old bodies made perfect, of flesh and bone that will never die.  I have a testimony of the truthfulness of this message but my study has been more to understand what that means for me right now as I struggle through this existence.

In mortality, we fail.  We struggle and try and do the best we can but in the end we do not reach or meet all the expectations or commandments that God has given us.  This is why the Atonement is so important!  The Atonement allows us to repent, to change our very natures, and to be made a new creature.  This is important... So what does it mean!  Repentance works such that when we acknowledge how we have fallen short or the area in which we need help that for a brief time we must understand how this affects us now and in the future.  We need to be sorry for our mistakes and also mercifully be given time to heal from our wounds and our afflictions.  This process works for all things... for example, things that are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  Once we have done that, we have to seek and give forgiveness wherever it is required and then commit to live after the path that Christ set for us.  His commandments and His life are the ways to happiness and peace and love and joy.  We must realize that we will face these issues again in the future so we must recognize and commit to do our best to endure and endure well when that opportunity comes that we will be tested.  It is during this change where we are seeking to forgive and be forgiven, to redirect our lives to follow Christ, that we have what is a change of desire.  Without this change in desire and an ability to forgive one's self then it is almost impossible to progress.  These two are the keys to changing our very natures and becoming new creatures.

I have always been taught that a study of the doctrine will change behavior better than a study of behavior will change behavior.  Now we have to understand... Who are we?  Where did we come from?  What is the purpose in this life?  These are deep and complex questions that can start with very simple answers.  We are all children of God, Our Heavenly Father, or the father of our spirits.  We left His presence and came to this earth to gain a body and be tested to see if we could learn to control it.  However, we make mistakes so this is again why we have a Savior, because without the sacrifice of the Atonement... God is perfect and no imperfect thing can abide in His presence.  This means as a Child of God, each of us must go through life learning how to become like Him by following the example of Jesus Christ and using His Atonement when things go wrong.  This life is about self-discovery and growing into what a child always becomes.  And when this life is over we will pass on and be resurrected in our own perfected bodies to return to live with God if we have chosen to follow Him and thereby gain the heart, will, and desires of God... changing our very natures.

It is this time when we make mistakes, the time that we are seeking forgiveness, and also that time that we continually fight to endure that is most difficult I think.  Especially if we don't understand who we are and that even when we fall short we still can move forward.  The key to forgiveness is that if we think of a wooden board as a record of our life, we make mistakes and punch a hole into it, there is a nail that comes loose or is bent, etc.  The way the Atonement works is not that Christ pulls out the nail and putties the whole or that new scraps of wood are put in to fix it with caulk.  Christ when He sees that our repentance is true and real, takes down the old beat-up board and replaces it with a brand new one.  God does not keep the holes.  When we repent He forgives us and forgets our sins and they are no more a part of us.  Our mistakes do not define us.  This same idea helps when we try to understand why He would be so merciful.  If we think of ourselves, children of a loving Heavenly Father, image ourselves as a $20 dollar bill.  That note no matter how crinkled it gets over time, how old it becomes, how ripped, torn, folded, crinkled, bent, smudged, pressed... The value of that note is still $20 dollars.  God knows who we are.  He loves us.  And it is up to us to trust in Him and His promises and know that we are never too far gone.

The resurrection is a beautiful thing.  Imagine that after you have died you are able to receive this gift, this beautiful perfect and immortal body.  Now think for a moment about our lives... What does that mean for us now?  It means that if Christ's Atonement has the power to perfect and heal our bodies then, He has the power to heal us now.  He can heal you.  He can change your heart, heal your body, and purify your soul.  The only condition is that we humble ourselves enough to have the faith that we will let him.  We each have a choice.  We can choose to believe whatever we wish and act on those beliefs.  But if we will exercise our faith now, in this life, and trust in God and trust God that He can do these things for us, they will happen.  We need to let him guide us and accept His will for us.  If we do this we can be clean and pure and once again find joy and happiness in this life and in the life to come.  God loves us.  So we too must learn to love ourselves and understand ourselves... our weakness, our faults, the blessings that we have received, and our dependance on our Father in Heaven.  We then can learn to love ourselves and then we are able to love one another.  I still have a lot to learn in this life and I have only scratched the surface on understanding what God has done for me.  I am very young but I have begun to understand who I really am.  Who are you and what are we to be doing in our lives?  These are the questions we all need to understand.

Remembering the Memories

Song: "Sweet Disposition"  By: The Temper Trap
Album: Conditions

When I first heard this song it reminded me that what we remember are little moments.  We can recall facts and we can recall events but those events are more easily remembered when there is a deep emotional connection to them, either positive or negative.  I know from my life that the way to be happy and to be happy about who you are is to learn from the negative but look for the positive.  The more good that you see in the world around you, the easier it will become to see the good in ourselves.  So when I heard the lyrics of this song continually repeating these words connected with positive emotions it made me think of this:

Hold onto those whom make you happy, let you be yourself, and help you grow into the person you want to be. Because love and life are a series of moments... Some of which are absolutely beautiful to remember.  In the face of opposition, one man put it this way, "Never, never, never give up."  Don't give up on your dreams.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Balance and Progression

These are just only a few things I need to do over these next couple of months and they are to:
  • Trust completely and let go of all other emotions
  • Open up and accept the needs of others as a way of helping them fulfill those needs
  • Support the ones I love while giving them space to make their own decisions and grow from them
  • Not only respect other people's agency but help them understand that they are in control
  • Listen and protect the ones I love
  • Don't let my need for certainty drive my emotions and my actions
  • Don't react but act for myself
  • Don't compare myself to others but see and appreciate my own self worth
 There is obviously the need to maintain my relationships with others and especially my family and my future family, to do well in my classes and find a way to focus on my studies, to balance my life so that the gospel can have a renewing influence in my life, and to strengthen my body as well as my Spirit.  There is so much to do and so little time to do it in... Oh wait.  I have eternity.  I guess I just have to take it one day at a time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Wants... Needs... It is All About Becoming

I think the reason that people get tired is because we get stretched thin and we don’t know where to turn.  A lot of people feel like they need to do everything alone.  A lot of people don’t know that anyone else even cares.  We are all so busy and so caught up in our lives that sometimes we forget the people around us who have been supporting us the whole time.  I have been one of those people who have been forgotten and even worse than that I have been one of those people who forget.  I have a lot more growing up to do because I can still feel and remember that feeling of not being appreciated.  I need to be able to help and offer someone else my hand in friendship and service and not get down when they choose to do things themselves or when they turn to someone else.  I need to help people and not have to feel appreciated to be happy about my service.   But what I need and what I want aren’t always the same.  And I think this is where I am struggling in accepting God’s will for me right now.

What I want right now:
  • I want to feel appreciated and I want to feel like I am loved.
  • I want to be married right now because I have finally found the right person.
  • I want Tatiana to be accepted into BYU and not have to deal with the political and academic run around.
  • I want to feel like what I do has meaning and that the people that I think about and love the most felt and think the same way about me like I do about them.
  • I want to be there to support and protect the people I care about from the difficult things they face and to keep them safe from harm and from pain.
  • I want to be someone’s best friend.  I want to be their everything.
  • I want to feel like I am moving forward instead of continually slipping backwards each time I finally feel like I am on solid ground again.
  • I want to be confident and comfortable with who I am individually and in my relationships with others.
  • I want to be with my fiancĂ© and not thousands of miles away.
  • I want to be able to recognize that feeling which lets me know that I am moving in the right direction and what I have done is right.
  • I want to have the kind of faith in myself and in what is happening that I can feel like I can just let go of everyone and everything that I care about and know that no matter what happens it will all be okay.
 What I need right now:
  • I need to be the right person because I am not ready to be married (I don’t think anyone is truly ready…).
  • I need to let go of my fears and trust completely in Tatiana and read less into things.
  • I need to take each day one  at a time and have faith that whatever happens in Australia that in the end Tatiana and I will find a way to be together and that she will be able to overcome any obstacle that she is faced with and that when she needs me she will reach out for help.
  • I need to be patient with the different things that are happening now and talk less and listen more.
  • I need to express my love unconditionally.  I need to communicate clearly and more simply.
  • I need to express sincere excitement for other people and worry less about my future.
  • I need to be happy for others in their successes and the things that make them happy.
  • I need to be happy with who I am and excited about who I am becoming.  I need to be more positive.
  • I need to work on focusing more on the things I have to do and am accountable for.
  • I need to pray more for the Spirit so I can overcome the loneliness that I feel.
  • I need to study my scriptures with purpose and true intent so that it is meaningful.
The problem is that I want good things but I can be better if I chose to work through the things going on in my life without murmuring and with more faith.  And where I find myself now, it is not only that I know I can be better but if I am going to be happy and be successful, I need to be better.  I have never done things the easy way… my friends and family tell me that all the time.  However, the hardest struggles are always the ones that others don’t see or don’t know about that happen in your own mind… criticism, doubt, contradiction, impossibilities, uncertainty, etc.  Sometimes I just wish I was Alice… “Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  Life is tough but that doesn’t stop life from being good.  I have been blessed in many different ways and I have a lot to be grateful for.  I am not going to give up.  I have too much at stake.  I can do this.  I need to do this.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


I think I finally figured out why I am so emotional all the time and so serious these last few months.  I like to be able to see the value in things and I like to work hard and even though I know I don't deserve anything, I hope that God as the loving father will bless me as His son.  I hope that I will be able to become what I need to be in order to be worthy of His love... even though that makes no sense.  He loves me no matter who I am or where I am at.  I guess what I mean is that I want to be the person that He sees in me and trusts me to be.  I want to be able to have His Spirit with me and feel like I am able to know what I should do to accomplish His will.  In the end, I know He wants me to happy.  But the reason I am so emotional is right now is I feel like I am in a position where I have everything to lose and everything to gain.  I am on the edge and I know that if I keep pressing forward in faith it will all work out... not because I have any control of the situation (which scares me at times) but because I have no other alternative.  I have so much more that I need to improve on.  I have so much more that really I am waiting on... other people and their choices, political red tape, time itself... I am a passionate person and like I said before, I feel like I have everything on the line.  And I know that this isn't the reality... I will be able to move forward no matter the outcome... but this is  how I feel.  And I have never wanted anything more than this.  So I apologize if I am emotional.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


"Half-Life" by Duncan Sheik

I'm awake in the afternoon
I fell asleep in the living room
and it's one of those moments
when everything is so clear

before the truth goes back into hiding
I want to decide 'cause it's worth deciding
to work on finding something more than this fear

It takes so much out of me to pretend
tell me now, tell me how to make amends

maybe, I need to see the daylight
to leave behind the half-life
don't you see I'm breaking down

lately, something here don't feel right
this is just a half-life
is there really no escape?
no escape from time
of any kind

I keep trying to understand
this thing and that thing, my fellow man
I guess I'll let you know
when i figure it out

but I don't mind a few mysteries
they can stay that way it's fine by me
but you are another mystery i am missing

It takes so much out of me to pretend

maybe, I need to see the daylight
leave behind the half-life
don't you see I'm breaking down

Lately, something here don't feel right
this is just a half-life
is there really no escape?
no escape from time
of any kind

come on lets fall in love
come on lets fall in love
come on lets fall in love

'cause lately something here don't feel right
this is just a half-life,
without you I am breaking down

wake me, I wanna see the daylight
save me from this half-life
let's you and I escape
escape from time

come on lets fall in love
come on lets fall in love
come on lets fall in love

Monday, August 13, 2012

Needing The Distraction

Typically I have a lot to say but this time it is really quite simple.  Even though I have stuff to do and things to finish before I leave and head back to school, I can't stop thinking about her.  I can't get her out of my mind.  And I think it might be because I have nothing else to think about and I am constantly wondering what she is doing and praying that she is okay.  For once in my life I want to go back to college and it isn't because I am super excited about my classes and the fact that I graduate this year.  I can't wait to go back so that every day becomes bearable because I can't be with her.  My mind can't focus so much on the distance between us or the challenges that we are bound to face.  Some days are worse than others but overall, it is just tough.  I miss her...

I miss her so much that sometimes it just hurts.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Captain America

One of the best superhero movies ever... Classic! Right up there with Iron Man.

Dr. Abraham Erskine: Yeah. But, there were other effects. The serum was not ready. But more important, the man. The serum amplifies everything that is inside. So, good becomes great. Bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength, and knows compassion.
Steve Rogers: Thanks. I think.
Dr. Abraham Erskine: Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.
[Steve holds up his glass to toast]
Steve Rogers: To the little guys.
[just as Steve's about to drink from his glass]
Dr. Abraham Erskine: No! No! Wait! Wait! What I am doing? No! You have a procedure tomorrow. No fluids.
[he pours the contents of Steve's glass into his own]
Steve Rogers: All right. We'll drink it after.
Dr. Abraham Erskine: No! I don't have procedure tomorrow. Drink it after! Drink it now!

Steve Rogers: I know this neighborhood. I got beat up in that alley. And that parking lot. And behind that diner.
Peggy Carter: Did you have something against running away?
Steve Rogers: You start running they'll never let you stop. You stand up, push back. Can't say no forever, right?
Peggy Carter: I know a little of what that's like. To have every door shut in your face.
Steve Rogers: I guess I just don't why you'd wanna join the army if you're a beautiful dame. Or a beautiful...a woman. An agent, not a dame! You are beautiful, but...
Peggy Carter: You have no idea how to talk to a woman, do you?
Steve Rogers: This is the longest conversation I've had with one. Women aren't exactly lining up to dance with a guy they might step on.
Peggy Carter: You must have danced?
Steve Rogers: Well, asking a woman to dance always seems so terrifying. And the past few year just didn't seem to matter that much. Figured I'd wait.
Peggy Carter: For what?
Steve Rogers: The right partner.

Peggy Carter: Howard has some equipment for you to try. Tomorrow morning?
Steve Rogers: Sounds good.
[Peggy turns her head to listen to the men singing in the bar]
Peggy Carter: I see your top squad is prepping for duty.
Steve Rogers: You don't like music?
Peggy Carter: I do, actually. I might, even when this is all over, go dancing.
James Barnes: Then what are we waiting for?
[looking at Steve]
Peggy Carter: The right partner.
[to Steve]
Peggy Carter: Oh-eight-hundred, Captain.
[she turns to leave]
Steve Rogers: Yes, ma'am. I'll be there.

[referring to the rejection he got from Peggy about going dancing with him]
James Barnes: I'm invisible. I'm...I'm turning into you. It's like some horrible dream.
Steve Rogers: Don't take it so hard. Maybe she's got a friend.

Closing Off The Summer

Well this summer was one long make-it-or-break-it experience with some longstanding consequences.  There was a lot of stress.  There were a lot of tears.  There were a lot of smiles and a lot of character building experiences.  I know that I have a long way to go and a lot more improvements that I need to make.  I need to be more consistent and on top of those little things that create a solid foundation.  The real point is that I want to look back and see how well I was able to handle the big things I planned to do this summer.

I was planning on doing two different things for work this summer as a way to save up some money in order to be able to afford school this upcoming Fall and Winter semesters and also to do some of the other activities I wanted to do this summer.  I was able to paint my grandparents house and in the end it turned out pretty good and I was able to use that money later that summer.  I was able to return to work at my old internship at NxStage Medical Inc. and even though there were a few bumps along the road when it came to that job, I feel like I still was able to save enough money and have enough good experiences there that in the end it was still able to help me get where I wanted to go.  I wish I had a little more wiggle room but it is what it is and I will be able to get by.  Financially I was also able to secure a few scholarships and also a grant so I definitely won't say no to that and every bit helps.  And if anyone else wishes to donate to my cause then by all means, I will be happy to give you my address at school and feel free to mail me cash or a check and it will go to good use.

Now that I have mentioned school, I will give an update of how testing this summer in preparation for graduate school turned out.  The original plan when it came to graduate school was to try and get into the joint MS/MBA program at BYU.  If I was accepted, I would graduate from BYU after getting my Bachelor's Degree this April and then I would graduate some time in the next 2 to 4 years later with a Master's Degree in both Mechanical Engineering and Business.  The programs are pretty strenuous and to get into that I first need to get accepted to the program for engineering and then I can apply for the one for business.  The Mechanical Engineering Master's Program admits about 40 students a year with a average 3.52 GPA, a GRE Verbal Percentile of 68.93, a GRE Quantitative Percentile of 81.21, and GRE Writing Percentile of 48.96.  The MBA Program admits students with about the same average GPA and are a bit more selective because they have a ton more applicants.  The GMAT scores of the accepted students are 68.07 Quantitative Percentile, 82.18 Verbal Percentile, and 50.35 Analytical Percentile.  I was feeling a lot of pressure to do well on these tests and it wasn't like I could ever sit down and just focus.  Still, I don't think I could have predicted how it all eventually turned out.

I think what eventually happened was pretty much a miracle.  After all the studying and distractions, I think I actually think I have a fighting chance!  My current GPA is a 3.48 so it isn't the best but it isn't bad.  I think if I really do well this last year I might be able to raise it up to where it needs to be to get accepted.  The more important part was how I performed on the exams.  The first exam I took this summer was the GRE.  In Verbal Reasoning, I was slightly below the percentile I was looking for and my Analytical Writing percentile was just right.  It was in my Quantitative Reasoning section where I blew the percentile out of the water.  The next exam was the GMAT.  I have my unofficial scores so I don't know how I did on the Analytical Writing section or on the Integrated Reasoning, which is being able to interpret a combination of tables, graphs, calculations, multiple messages, etc.  However, the advisors at BYU basically told me that I needed to get higher than a 700 overall to really be considered.  And through some miracle my Quantitative and Verbal percentiles were both high enough and close enough together that overall I was able to get higher than the 700 that I was shooting for.  This is huge... I can't even begin to explain but it is a really good thing.  The only way I can really illustrate how good this is would be that if I started looking outside of BYU for colleges to apply to for these degrees with my results, I think I would have a shot at UC Berkeley.  And why did I look up Berkeley?  Because it is only a little more than 4 miles away from Pixar Headquarters in Emeryville, California.

Tatiana and I have been doing really well if you have been following our story so far.  The steps we have taken this summer have been huge.  Not only were we able to survive the distance so far but I was able to find a way to fly out and visit her and her family for a week and my favorite moment during that week was my surprise proposal.  Tatiana and I have been engaged since July 9th.  It was an amazing experience and I was lucky enough to have captured the whole thing on camera.  It has not been easy since then and we have had our own fair share of struggles as every couple will have but overall we are stronger and more open and honest than ever before.  There a few more miracles that we are looking for when it comes to school, BYU, visas, and just staying together and keeping things alive.  We pray for each other all the time and I hope that in the end we will be able to figure everything out.  I love this girl and honestly I think I can see my happily ever after coming together in front of my eyes.

If I was to look back and think about my Summer 2012, I would say it was long and it was stressful but in the end I was able to overcome everything that I had to face.  I don't think I could have ever done it by myself.  I have been praying and fasting more than I have ever done.  I have gotten a ton of support from my family and my fiance.  It definitely is not a one man show but it turned out well.  I am engaged, I was able to work, I am doing fine medically and financially, and my test scores came back a lot better than even I expected with the heavy load I took upon myself.  What's ahead of me?  Life.  I think in the end I will come out alright because again of the wonderful support and love that I have behind me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Fresh Start

Beginnings... Our life is full of new beginnings.  These monumental moments or events that happen in life that feel as if you have just won the lottery and received a chance to start over... a new chapter and a new page.  Over the time that I have been home from my mission there have been few people who have truly affected me in such a way that could be described as life-changing or life-altering.  I have a lot of amazing friends that I have made at home and at college and a few of them can come close to this.  I have the most wonderful and supportive family any person could ever ask for and for them, I wouldn't put them in this category but I would give them their own and I would call them my foundation.  My family is where I learned to love, what it meant to be loved, where I learned to gain and foster a testimony, and where I learned what it meant to be a brother, a cousin, a nephew, a grandson, and a son.  It was also where I was able to catch a glimpse at what it would mean to be a father but more importantly what it took to be a husband... now that... that would be life-changing.

I have met many different women that I have fallen for or had a crush on but I won't compare them to Tatiana.  I know I have talked about my feelings for her in the past and all I will say here is that even though we aren't perfect and we have our issues like every couple does, we fit.  My feelings and I feel like I can say our feelings have only grown over the time we have known each other.  And now that we keep moving forward to hopefully that day when I can call her my wife, I can see that it isn't the big things but the little ones that I look forward to.  A family is still a family when the total count comes to two.  A home is still home as long as you are coming back to those that miss you and love you while you are away.  We all have our own hopes and dreams and aspirations but if there is anything that the distance between us has continually taught me is that I need to cherish her and every moment we have together as if it was our last.

I want to sing Disney love songs in the car so I can hear her laughing again.  I want to slow dance with her across our kitchen floor so I can have an excuse to hold her.  I want to cook her breakfast and cover it with strawberries and chocolate sauce just so I can see her smile.  There is so much I want to share with her and yet here I am still in Chapter 3 of my life story when all I can think about is skipping ahead to all the good stuff.  I can hardly wait until I can roll over in the morning, brush back her gray hair, all so I can see the wrinkles by her eyes and start to fall in love with her all over again.  I know we need to live in the present so we don't fill our life with a bunch of empty yesterdays, but what if we already feel empty?  What if you feel like you can do so much more with your life and you were meant to do something great?  I sometimes feel like I can be that kind of person.  I feel like I can make a difference.  And I know sometimes the greatest things can happen through the ripples of something very small.  I don't think I can put my finger on one thing in particular... a kiss, a look, a smile, maybe it was a Mentos!  All I know is this is something special and I am learning and I am changing and I am going to find a way to make this work no matter what because I know we are something worth fighting for.

So how do I bring this full circle?  How do I bring this back to the beginning?  Well it starts by closing one chapter and then beginning with something new... something better.  I am done with my old life and the old me.  Now... I am looking at us.  We are about to begin our own fresh start.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Life In a Flash

So typically I don't like to post pictures of myself anywhere but as anyone who visits my blog knows, I am in a long distance relationship with my Australian fiance.  Well neither of us are huge fans of Facebook in all honesty and I don't want all of my friends to be watching me over my shoulder... My life isn't that interesting and the thought of everyone I know looking over my shoulder kind of creeps me out to be completely honest!  But I figure only a few people actually know me well enough to know about this site.  And so this post is directed to all of you: I am starting a new blog that is going to document my life in such a way that you will be able to know how I am doing and the adventures that I am going on.  I will still post to this one and it will continue to have a lot of the thoughts or insights that I am learning or gaining but this new one is simply pictures.  It is a picture blog about my life.  So fittingly, I am calling it... My Life In a Flash!

I Will Prevail

I have been told that I will never exceed
I have been told that I am living in a dream
I have been pushed to the side by many of my peers
I have heard of the struggles that was present before me
I have heard others speak of the struggles they were presented with
I have accepted I can't change everything in my life
I know that the things that can be changed will take time
I have watched many come and fall
I have seen those who have raised to riches and fall to pennies
I have started a goal
I have told myself that I will prevail

I have seen the evil in life
I have once been a victim to this life
I have learned that the only thing that can  hold you back in life is living for the past
I refuse to give up without a try
I refuse to let anyone tell me that I can't reach the sky
I refuse to live for today
I will always prepare for tomorrow even though it is not guaranteed
I will refuse to allow anyone to change my heart
I believe that God will lead me to a higher place
I believe that change has been accepted for my life
I believe that someone is watching over me
I will prevail

I apologize for the struggles other may have faced
I refused to allow me to make myself wait
I know that many have never receive an apology for the struggles they have faced
I hope that you accept this from me as I am speaking through them to you
I know that for many of you this is the reason you have given in to the belief that you can't exceed
I will continue through the obstacles that step in my way
I will ask for guidance every day
I will not give up
I will not give in
I will not look back
I will not except that this is all my life is meant to be
I will continue
I will prevail

- Phil Harris

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Lorax

I want to start off by saying that when I watch movies and listen to things, I always love to listen to the deeper message but at the same time I appreciate the message on the surface.  I understand that The Lorax by Dr. Seuss has a very outward in preaching that we need to save the earth.  That is true.  The recent movie depicts that if we are willing to be patient, let the world around us grow, and when we take from it that we leave enough behind so that it will continue; these are all good things.  But even deeper than that there is an underlying message in The Lorax about keeping our promises and making choices.

There are two main characters in The Lorax.  Obviously there is the Lorax but there is also another character called the Once-ler.  The Once-ler was a man that had a dream. As he pursued this dream of a thneed, he got lost.  He lost all sense of what was right and wrong because things had escalated out of proportion from helping people to looking for personal gain and satisfaction and he figured it out a little too late.  The beauty of this remake of the movie is that it wasn't too late.  It followed the story further than the "UNLESS."  But before I get there, I need to introduce the Lorax... And in enters Danny DeVito.  Love him.

"The legendary ... slightly annoying ... guardian of the forest, The Lorax."  I can't think of a better way to describe this character.  I loved the script in this by the way.  But let's take a closer look at The Lorax and who his character really represents.  Once the Lorax appears on the scene, he goes to confront the Once-ler on his operation that he is starting in the Lorax's forest:

The Lorax: Hey! Did you chop down this tree?
Once-ler: Uhh... No.
The Lorax: Who did it?
Once-ler: [gasps] What's that?
[the Lorax looks back and Once-ler drops his ax on Pipsqueak the Bar-ba-loot]
Once-ler: I think he did it.
The Lorax: [growls] Leave! Vacate the premises! Take your ax and get out!
Once-ler: And who are you?
The Lorax: Hey, hey! I-I'm the Lorax! Guardian of the forest. I speak for the trees.
[doesn't get a reaction from Once-ler]
The Lorax: So you're telling me, that you didn't see me magically appear out of that stump. With all the thunder and lightning. You didn't see any of that?
Once-ler: No. But, that sounds amazing. Can I see some of that?
The Lorax: Yeah, I could show you. But that's not how it works.

Well, the Once-ler is already off to a bad start.  After being raised in a family that didn't believe in him, he doesn't trust anyone, including the Lorax and lies to him.  The Lorax says something really interesting towards the end though... The Oncer-ler wanted to see a miracle and the Lorax responds that he could but that isn't how it works.  Being religious, I believe that The Lorax represents God and the Once-ler represents all of us.  I think that we all in our hearts are have good desires but if we were aren't willing to change our actions and constantly check ourselves, our actions can lead us away from where we initially intended to go.  The Once-ler from his own experience asks a young man Ted who the Once-ler is relating his story to why Ted cares about the trees.  The Once-ler is asking what his motives are for doing what he is doing especially when Ted comes back a second day to hear more of the story.

Once-ler: Really? Because when a guy does something stupid once, well that's because he's a guy. But if he does the same stupid thing twice, that's usually to impress some girl.

We may not have bad intentions and we might not have the same upbringing but I know that we all will find ourselves in a place where we are faced with doubt and the opportunity to do something right or do something easy.  The thing is when we make decisions, consequences always follow.  And if we want good consequences, we need to make good decisions.  I think this is what is meant when the Lorax is cautioning the Once-ler to not harvest the trees but to only harvest the tuffs!

The Lorax: Which way does the tree fall?
Once-ler: Down.
The Lorax: It falls the way it leans.  Be careful which way you lean.

You see the Once-ler was trying to speed things up.  He was trying to skip the important steps in harvesting the tuffs by just cutting down the trees.  The tree itself was necessary to help his dream grow!  Later on once things have gone too far, the Lorax confronts the Once-ler again and tries to wake him up and see how far he has gone wrong:

The Lorax: Happy yet? Feel that hole deep down inside you or do you still need more?
Once-ler: Look… If you got a problem with what I am doing then why haven’t you used your quote and quote powers to stop me?
The Lorax: I told you.  That’s not how it works.
Once-ler: Right… I forgot.  You’re a fraud.  I need you to get out – NOW!
The Lorax: Why? Do I make you uncomfortable? Remind you of the promises you made? The man you used to be?

The Once-ler continues to fight him by saying that he has his right to choose to do whatever he wants to and because he hasn't broken the law and hasn't hurt anyone that he really doesn't have to explain himself or his choices.  The problem was as the last Truffula tree fell with the sound of an axe he knew that was all a lie.  He did have the right to choose and The Lorax wasn't going to force him to do anything but instead he was warning him of the pain and suffering and guilt that was in front of him.  The Once-ler's actions had affected a lot more people than he realized and the one person he hadn't anticipated hurting was himself.  So this personal history of the Once-ler is related to a small boy named Ted who has come searching for the trees.  Right near the end, the Once-ler suddenly stops.  He realizes that even though things continue to look like they are only going to get worse and nothing is going to change, there might still be some hope left.

Once-ler: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not.
[the Once-ler looks around his apartment and drops something down to Ted through the window]
Once-ler: The last truffula seed… You need to plant it Ted.
Ted the Boy: Ya but... Nobody cares about trees any more!
Once-ler: Then make them care! Plant the seed in the middle of town where everyone can see! Change the way things are.  I know it may seem small and insignificant but it's not about what it is.  It's about what it can become.  That's not just a seed anymore than you are just a boy.

 As I said before, this movie ends happily and so the seed was allowed to grow and things were able to return to the way they were meant to be.  It is a kid's movie... What else are you going to expect?  But the point is that I believe that there really is a God and that people want good things.  If we are willing to listen to God, be patient, choose to do the right thing, and keep our promises, then we will not only end up with the things we thneed... I mean need... But we will be able to avoid hurting the people that we love, including ourselves.  There is a way that we can be happy but it just takes a little bit of effort and a lot of faith and trust.  Take the time to think about what it is that you really care about.  Know that no matter what that there is always time to change.  And lastly, the promises and the choices we make, "may seem small and insignificant but it's not about what it is.  It's about what it can become."

Friday, August 3, 2012


One of the nice things about having a blog is a lot of the time you will go on and read someone else's blog.  It can be so insightful when you have good things to read that lift your spirit and give you encouragement to do what you need to do.  Whether the blogs you follow are ones that make you laugh or whether they are spiritual or based on relationships, I feel that if you are willing to listen you are willing to learn.

I read recently about a friend whose grandfather was taking a moment to share an old song as a way to teach his family a specific life lesson.  He was stopped prematurely in the song because some of the younger crowd preferred that he was over... something to do with being slightly off key.  Anyways the song he sang was one that I was unfamiliar with and decided to look up the lyrics.  It was Nat King Cole's "Nature Boy."  My friend stressed that the probable reason whey his grandfather had chosen this particular song was the last line of it.  It ends with, "the greatest thing, you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."

And to quote my friend, the message that he took from that small life lesson was this:  "When you love and aren't loved it's exciting but depressing.  When you are loved and don't love it's flattering but annoying.  When you love and are loved the world just turns for you."  Wow... It at least gave me a lot to think about.  I guess this is really what friends are for.  Friends... Life is so lonely without them.