Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Everyday Humanity

There's a funny thing about the way we human beings tend to think. Because it is your brain, your heart, and your body, and because you are the spirit inhabiting them, you have a tendency to thnk more about yourself than about others from day to day. This thought process should not be mistaken for selfishness. It's only natural. Because your joys, sorrows, peace, and pain are for you alone to experience, you feel them more acutely than those of anyone else. This is how we are.

However, this natural phenomenon can become a less-than-innocent vice if too long ignored. In this state of self-awareness, it is easy to become less and less aware of the emotions of those around you. The real catch, however, is this - all those people you see and interact with every day are feeling their own pain and sorrow just as closely and sharply as you are feeling yours. The fact that you cannot feel what another feels does not lessen the gravity or depth of the emotion in their own heart. It is still there - but so easily goes unnoticed.

I would beg my readers to remember the feelings of those outside themselves - whether they be friend or enemy, acquaintance or kin, stranger or family. No matter the circumstances, no matter what barriers may divide us, we are all part of the same whole - humanity. We are all people, no matter where we come from or how we think or what we do.

We all have felt pain, and just the same have known joy. We know what it is to be hurt, and also what it is to injure. We have known days of sunshine, and days of cloud. We have experimented with faith, each trying to find his way in a world that offers few anwers. We have experienced both excitement and dissapointment, both euphoria and despair. We have all felt the cherished love of another human being, and in turn have loved over again. We have all felt the agony of loss, the darkness and sorrow of grief. We have known happiness and sorrow, peace and pain - every single one of us.

I think that this deeply egrained humanity is a keystone to the admonission to "Mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." Comfort without experience is empty - mere pity, nothing more. If someone comes to you in need of comfort, look deeper than that. Look into your own past, your own memories, your own feelings. Look deep enough, and I think you will find that you have felt what that comfortless soul is feeling before, even if under different circumstances. And when you have experienced the feelings of another, it will become infinitely easier and infinitely more meaningful to give them the respite and peace they need.

Remember, too, the one who did this same thing for each of us. He willingly experienced all our sorrows and pain, so that he could bring us the joy and peace we seek. It is a miracle simply to know of that sacrifice - and more of a miracle to feel it at work in yourself. "I shall not leave you comfortless..." "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart by troubled, neither let it be afriad." "Therefore, continue on your journey - for behold, and lo, I am with you, even unto the end."

So it is, and so it shall be. 'Til we meet again, my friends...

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Simple Things

Once upon a time, way back in the days of Greek mythology, there lived a Titan named Atlas. Atlas was very big, very muscular, and had been asigned the less-than-pleasant task of bearing the weight of the sky on his shoulders. He made Heracles carry it for a while and tried to ditch him with it, but of course Heracles tricked Atlas into taking it back. Why? Well, the Greeks couldn't just leave Heracles there - he's the hero. We can't have him missing out on his happy ending just because he's stuck under the sky. But Heracles isn't the one we're focusing on here, so forget about him for a while. I want to take a moment to think about Atlas. He had to carry the weight of the whole sky for a milenia before Heracles came along, and even then he only got a ten minute break. I feel sympathy for the poor Titan. The sky is quite a load to shoulder.

I find that sometimes we as people try to take on the weight of the sky, so to speak. Of course, thanks to modern discovery, we know that there isn't acutally a giant guy in a loin cloth standing at the top of a mountian holding the sky. We know about astronomy and gravity and atmosphere and everything else. When I say we hold up the sky, I mean it figuratively - in the sense that we hold up burdens that are extremely heavy for us, but that we feel are necessary to bear. For example, I now bear the burnden of my major requirements (all of them), my finances, and many thoughts of a future for which I cannot yet plan. Others shoulder the weight of supporting a family, the paying of bills and mortgages, the battle against illness and physical pain, or the crushing pressure of debt. You name it - everyone has something to carry.

Now, I must introduce another character to the scene. His name is Henry David Thoreau. He went out into the New England woods, built a cabin, grew his own food, and lived there next to a little lake in Massachusets for two years, two months, and a couple days. He wrote about his experiences there and published them in a book named after the lake - "Walden." He told the world to "Simplify, simplify, simplify," to live on the nessesities, and to own our possessions and not to let them own us. He said of his experience, "I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I cam to die, discover that I had not lived."

I wonder, sometimes, if that person won't be me - the one that gets to the end of their life, and realizes that I spent so much time worrying about what may be, or could be, or should be, that I forgot to live. May I urge every one of you not to let that happen to you or anyone else. Own your burndens and troubles - but do not let them own you.

The weather is becoming warmer. Today was absolutely beautiful, and the rest of the week promises much of the same. It is, as I have heretofore stated, the time of year for chocolate and sugar cookies. I suggest going and enjoying these things while they are present, instead of letting them pass by in the shadow of worries and troubles. Go and feel the sun on your face. Let the wind brush across your skin and bring new life to your lungs. Look at the trees and the grass and the robin readbreasts on the buildings and telephone wires. Listen to music or birdsong. Run. Rest. Dance. Sing. Anything - just go experience one of the simple, beautiful, magical things that make life worth living from day to day. Every blessing you discover will bring a little more peace and happiness to your days - and I think you'll find that the burden you carry will be a little lighter for the experience.

That is all I can write. I must now go out and enjoy the sunshine before the clouds roll in. Many thanks, and much love on this Valentines Day. 'Til next time, my friends!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Valentines Day 101

Yes, it has happened again - Everyday Magic has changed her look. There are two reasons for this - first is that I got tired of blue. People always use the color blue in January, but blue is such a cold color - if it's already freezing outside, why add to it? If one is going to color January (or any other winter month, such as February), I say one ought to color it with a bright, warm, sunny, happy color - something that will keep us from freezing before the winter campaign is over. The second reason for the pinks and reds is because of the Holiday we are all going to celebrate in less than two weeks:

Valentines Day.

If you are a hopeless romantic, perhaps this is a holiday you look forward to. If you are not a hopeless romantic, perhaps this holiday makes you want to be sick. And, perhaps, if you have a significant other to provide for and pamper thereupon, this holiday might even give you a scare (or at least a nervous reaction).

So the question is - what to do? What can one do to celebrate Valentines Day? Well, if you are one with a significant other, I don't have the answers for you. I have never been party to such a relationship (virgin lips still!), so I am not the person to ask. Go talk to someone you know who is married, who has been courting for a significant period, or who knows your significant other up close and personally (like a close friend or cousin). But don't ask me. I don't know.

This post is for people who lack a significant other, but may in fact wish that they had one as this holiday approaches. It is also for those who simply want a good way to celebrate. So here are my thoughts:

1. Make Valentines anyway. You don't have to have a boyfriend or girlfriend to give them to. Make them for your friends, just to tell them how much you appreciate them. Make one for your mom and dad, and remind them that you love them (and just in case my parents are reading this - I love you both!). My family always makes one for each of the grandmothers and great grandmothers, and ships them off with lots of love and homemade treats. And on the subject of treats...

2. Make cookies! Sugar cookies! Heart-shaped! With sprinkles! But wait - that's not all. There is a multitude of advantages to the cookie baking activity. First of all, you can make a date out of it. Just ask someone you know and like of the opposite gender to come mix up some sugar cookie dough with you. Who's going to refuse that? And if you don't know how to make sugar cookies, comment below and I'll send you the best recipe I've got. The other fun part is this: when put on paper plates, cookies are extremely useful for activities besides eating - such as being left on doorsteps or given as gifts or cheering up a sad someone. I need not say more. You are educated people - you know where I'm going with this.

3. Stop and smell the roses - even if you can't or don't want to buy any. They've got some beautifully scented ones in their selection at most Costco wholesale stores, if anyone's interested. Or if roses aren't your thing, do something else. Watch a sunset. Go for a walk or a run or a drive. Look at the stars. Feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Go to a museum. Listen to beautiful music. Whatever you will - just go experience something that you think is beautiful.

4. Pamper yourself just a little - whatever pampering means to you. For me, it's curling up with a treat and a good book, or even taking a hot bath. You can define it how you will - but whatever it is, do it for yourself on the 14th, just to make the day (and yourself!) feel a little more special.

5. Remember that there is always someone out there who loves you - even if you are without a boy/girlfriend status or a ring on your finger to prove it. There are so many people who love you more dearly than you know. And best of all, there is one who loves you the most - your Heavenly Father. Never forget it.

So this sums it up: Love yourself. Love the world. Love other people. Love the Lord. It doesn't get any plainer and simpler than that. And as I've said before (and will likely say again), love is an absolutely inexhaustible resource. It never diminishes when you give it away... it multiplies. So give it away freely this month, the month designated for its celebration, and you will find that you have more in the end than when you began. May it be so at this time and always.

All my love and gratitude! 'Til next time...