Monday, November 29, 2010

Everyday Roses

I'm taking my own advice today. For once. I'll have to start making a practice of it if I intend to find anything worthwhile to write. In reality, though, I'm not taking my own advice so much as the advice of Dale Carnegie. The quote I refer to is to your immediate right and down a ways, but I will repeat it anyway:

"One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today."

I think Carnegie was onto something here - a truth that has been hanging over the heads of the human race since the very begining. Who of us has not desired to be in a different place and time? Who has not said to oneself (though in not so many words), "I will be happy when such-and-such a date or this-that-and-the-other is done." You can fill in the blanks. We've all said to ourselves that life will be better when the school year is out, or when a final is over, or after taxes are due, or once pay day comes, or once an assigned speech, talk, or presentation is past... the list could go on forever.

But in this fast-paced, mortal world, forever is something we simply don't have. It is not known to any of us how long our probation on this earth will be. We can't afford to always be looking to our "magical rose gardens over the horizon." Not when there are so many roses blossoming around us where we stand.

For example - it has snowed where I am. Several feet put itself down over the weekend, and with it came the truely cold weather. One would imagine that any kind of roses short of those made of silk would be a sheer impossibility. Walking home from campus after the day's classes, the air was maliciously bitter. I could feel the sensation leaving my face, ears, and fingertips. By the time I got to the first traffic light - the halfway point - I was no more capable of fast speech than I was of sprouting wings. On top of that, the day had been long, finals approach, and I had caught a cold the day before. This was the point at which I was wishing to be a thousand places and a thousand times other than where I was - not the least of which included Italy, St. George, Hawaii, or at my grandparents' house in front of a roaring fire.

This was the point at which I had to try to remember my own councils. I looked around and tried to find a blessing, a piece of magic in my immediate surroundings. The trees were bare and black, their skeletal branches laden with snow. The contrast was truly beautiful - the white on the dark, sillouetted against the eventide sky. I also noted that several trees on the corner had been coated with colored Christmas lights, which sparkled beautifully in the midst of the busy street. And blessings - I had a home to go to, not two blocks away, and I was wearing a heavy winter coat. Sure, I was an imbecile to forget my gloves and scarf that morning - but a coat is more than many people can claim ownership to. And I was just returning from being educated and one of the best universities available to me.

I sang carols all the rest of the way home, even though I was the only one to hear them. And once I got there, I found yet another gift besides - after the chill and bite of the day, the presence of wool socks, internal heating, and hot food made this little apartment seem the most blessed place on earth.

This holiday season, as you go about giving and getting, I encourage you also to not neglect what you've already been given. Fill your life with gratitude, every day, and the beautiful things - the blossoming roses - of your own here and now will jump out at you as never before. I'll try my best to do the same.

Until, next time, dear readers - and a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

'Tis the Season

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! There, I said it - whether you like it or not. As far as I'm concerned, the minute the pumpkin pie is cleared, the Christmas season has begun. My family decorated our Christmas tree yesterday night, and we've been well-stocked with eggnog and cocoa for well over a week. And no doubt you will have noticed that Everyday Magic has changed colors again - bright red and green, as promised.

That's the subject today - the Christmas season. It is incredibly easy to have your view obscured by over-commercialism. Black Friday, the holiday shopping rush, the fake Santa in the mall - it's almost impossible to miss. With all the hustle and bustle and shopping and buying and running around, it isn't difficult to feel a certain resentment toward the season.

But as anyone with half a heart can tell you, that most certainly is not the life and breath of Christmastime. It may take another week for things to really settle in, but before long you'll feel it. A thrill of excitement every time you see a house or building strung with lights... a sigh of contentment at the scent of fresh pine or unseen delicacies baking in the oven... the delight of receiving gift, no matter how small - and the hundredfold joy of giving one. There is a goodness in the air that permeates everything it meets, and even the busiest, weariest, and most solitary members of the human race cannot help but breathe it in and feel their spirit be healed.

You can believe what you will, but it is part of my Christmas to remember the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. And in the spirit of his life and of the joy of the season, I believe that this time of year is a time to help our fellow men who stand in need. I can promise you right now that if you have felt the pain of a wounded heart, the emptiness of depression or despair, the ache of grief, or the sting of sorrow - nothing will do you more good than helping someone else.

Imagine giving a blanket to someone with no other shelter... a meal to someone who didn't think they would be able to eat that night... a note of thanks to someone who has worked their hardest, or a word of comfort to someone in pain... And it doesn't have to be anything physical either. A smile can light the darkness of a life faster than the sun lights the sky in the morning. A hug can warm both body and soul better than any coat or blanket. A word of appreciation or encouragement can turn a day from despair to joy in seconds. Is this not magic?

I think it is just that - Christmas magic at its best. And best of all, it is a power you hold in your own hands - right here, right now. So go out and work some magic - and you will surely feel it working on you in the process.

A Merry Christmas to you - 'til next time!    

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Scribblings #242 - What a Difference a Day Makes

And in a single day and night of misfortune, the island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea.

9600 BC.


Caesar walked up the steps of the forum, his head held high. The winds of fortune were at his back today, he thought. The Gods had truly smiled upon this humble leader of their mortal constituency. Today was the day, he determined, as he passed through the marble-set entrace, that all his greatest ambitions would come to pass. By sunset, Rome would have seen a new birth, a new victory. As he walked among his white-cladden comrades in the senate, he smiled confidently, assured in his own success.

He didn't see the daggers until it was too late.

Ides of March, 44 BC.


Martin Luther marched up to the door of the Castle Church, a scroll of paper held tightly in one hand, a pair of nails in the other. Coming upon the step he paused, reading again his own words upon the scroll. No new errors presented themselves to his scrutiny - it was ready.

Lacking a hammer, he hefted a heavy rock from the earth-paven street and beat the nails through the paper and into the door - dead center, over top of every other edict and argument hanging there. The sound echoed through the silent church, rocking the candles on the alter and the cruxifix on the wall - rocking, as it were, the very foundations of all christianity.

All Hallows Eve, 1517.


Thomas Jefferson leaned forward over the piece of parchment, seeing as though for the first time the familiar words that covered it - the children of his own pen. His determination set to the sticking place, he took up the quill and placed his signature at the bottom of the document.

He had followed the suit of several other men before him, and many more came after. In doing so they marked themselves as traitors to the most powerful empire int he known world. They signed away their liberty, their honor, and even their very lives - all for the sake of this one piece of paper. And yet, though small, it was a document that would soon be the cause of bloodshed to men of all nationalities - Englishmen, Frenchmen, Americans, and Islanders alike. It was a document destined to unalterably change the entire known world from the day of its signing and forever after.

July 4, 1776.


The plane flew out from the island early that day. No one knew where it was going - not even the high-ranking officers. Those who saw it leave watched it until it was no longer visible over the horizon. Some tried to guess at its purpose. Purely confidential, the whole thing had been - and headed for Japan, it looked like.

No one, in the wildest corner of their imaginations, guessed at what that plane carried in its cargo holds. No one dreamed that by the time it returned that night, it would have been responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 people. No one knew that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were enjoying their final day free of the devistation and terror of the warfront, free from the poison of radiation.

The American navy and airforce recruits would all tell of it in years to come - how they watched the planes go. But on that day, no one realized that by sunset, the Enola Gay would have returned from its horrific mission having won the greatest victory of the second great war - a victory that would plunge the world into a reign of terror for decades to come.

August 6, 1945.


The young woman lay on the couch in her new apartment - a dormitory, really, but apartment sounded more grown up. Her eyes were dry, and she looked quite normal - but she had done her fair share of crying earlier on, and her heart was still aching from the ordeal.

It had been a horrible day - piles of reading, more nameless faces and faceless names swiming in and out of her view in the passing crowds on campus, and another unintetional "detour" on the way home. It was too much. She wanted nothing more than to go back to her own bed in her own house, far away from all the harship of college. Homesickness, she thought, was more potent than any germ or virus known to man. It hurt badly and stayed on, like an aching muscle after a long hike.

A knock at the door. The young woman pushed herself up off the cushions and went to answer it. It was another girl - one of the roommates from the dorm next door. "Hey - sorry to barge in like this. Are you... doing anything tonight?"

"Uh - no, not at all. Come on in, please. It's Kathryn, right?" asked the young woman, surprised that she remembered the other girl's name.

"Yes. Rachel, isn't it? I don't want to interrupt anything. I didn't have anything to do, so I thought I'd come see if anyone was around..."

The conversation lengthened. Common ground was discovered, similarities shared. Smiles lengthened, and laughter soon followed. Hospitality was extended. A movie was put on, treats fetched from both dorms, and pillows and blankets brought out. The evening was a wonderful one - and, little by little, the homesickness and despair were making their retreat. As Rachel looked at her new friend from across the couch, she felt a new emotion take their place - something sweet and healing and as familiar as a summer day. And somehow, she felt very certain that it was going to last.

September 10, 2010.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

100% Chance of Starfall

Hey, Everyone! Welcome to the second post of the month of November! It's been a while, I know - please forgive the delay. It's been a very busy month.

The world gets colder and prettier with every passing day. Winter paid a visit a few weeks ago, and everything in creation seems to be striving to put forth its best work before the old boy sets in permanently. Ever since the first frosts began touching the earth, the tree outside my theatre classroom has retaliated by raining stars. Star-shaped leaves, really - but it really does look as though the ground and bushes around the trunk were subject to a sudden shower of falling stars.

And this isn't the only tree I've seen acting peculiarly. As I was walking past the library the other day, a sudden wind started to blow. I was underneath a massive tree filled with small yellow leaves, and in seconds I was in the midst of a hurricaine of gold. I could easily imagine that the leaves were falling so perfectly on purpose, taking full advantage of a last chance to truly soar on the wind's back before coming to rest in their mother earth.

They sky, also, seems to want to put on a good show. Though sunsets are beautiful at any time, the ones I've witnessed the past few nights have been a truly spectacular sight. Waves of crimson, fountains of topaz, and oceans of gold wash over the western horizon, painting everything below in shades of rosy pink. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. I imagine that were I to be in the place of God, the most enjoyable work I could perform would be the nightly task of painting sunsets.

In case I shouldn't write again before then, a Happy Thanksgiving to you. Keep counting your many blessings and giving thanks to God for all you possess. Give thanks also to those dearest to you. Our loved ones often do not realize what an impact their every day has on us, so we must be the ones to open their eyes. I encourage you to thank those who have given you laughter, love, and hope throughout your days - in short, those who make life worth living. You will make their lives better in the process, and that improvement will be greater thanks than any word or gift. I promise.

Again, Happy Holdiays! 'Til next we meet... 

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Grateful Heart

November is here! The season of Thanksgiving. I have determined that every day from now until the feast day itself, I shall write down four things for which I am thankful. By Thursday the 25th, then, I shall have one hundred.

This past general conference, President Monson encouraged us to be grateful. I couldn't agree more. In the words of one of my favorite hymns, "When upon lifes' billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost... Count your many blessings! Every doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by." This is part of the reason I started this blog. I found that when my day was set on a downhill slide, all I had to do was look around at all the things I already had, and everything would brighten.

This is my list for today: I live in a country that allows me to learn, worship, and act freely. I am receiving a higher education at a brilliant university. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and a TV set in the living room to boot. I have a family who loves me and cares deeply for my welfare. I have the best roommates on earth (if I do say so myself). And I have the restored gospel to lift, guide, and comfort me through this life. I think these things, and I cannot help but feel happy again. I have been blessed beyond measure.

But "where much is given, much is required." In the words of yet another hymn, "Because I have been given much I, too, must give." That is my word of council for this post. This is a month for giving thanks for what we have. I think that the best way to show that thanks is to impart of what we have been given to those who have less - whether it be a monotary contribution, a donation of personal belongings to a charity or foundation, or simply our time and talents. But most of all, the best thing we can give is our love - because that is something we can give endlessly, over and over, and never run out. In fact, I can guaruntee that you will always find your supply greater than before.

There it is - the first post of the month. Happy Thanksgiving - and there's another thing to be grateful for. Thanks to you all for reading my work. I hope it has been worthwhile.

- 'Til next we meet, my friends.