Category: Travails


Wrote this in my journal yesterday and felt impressed to share it here, for whatever it’s worth: [emphasis in original; hyperlinks added, obvs]

I understand the appeal of giving up.  There’s a certain finality to it, which when you’re in the middle of something that as far as you know will never end can seem like deliverance in itself.  Where there is no vision, the people perish.  The question is whom do we trust to supply the vision?  That answer seems to be the most important.

If you are the person who found this blog using the search term ‘lord fragglegate’, I would LOVE to know what in the world you were actually searching for, and more importantly, did you find it?  I tried that search and got nothing meaningful…

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

D&C 64:10

I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.

D&C 38:27

Thinking about grievance got me thinking about forgiveness, and Zion, and then I saw this and I better understood something that’s been resting on me for a while.

More and more I find myself being drawn to the idea that what the Lord calls us to when we are invited to righteousness is not some abstract standard of behaviour, but rather a total unity; a kind of social intimacy that we can never truly grasp in our current state.  Our sins are what keep us from that union, again in ways we do not grasp, so much so that we scoff at the commandments intended to lead us there.

But other than our own sins, we can let other’s sins (and even things that are not sins) keep us from that union too.  We can harbour bitterness and resentment, and then when the time comes that all must be brought together, our pain will demand that we stay away.  Separate.  Alone, to some eternally damning degree.

We will need to lay all our burdens down if we are to enter that ultimate celestial union.  Even if, for now, we must keep some at arm’s length for our (or their) safety’s sake, we can still long for the day when all barriers can fall.  We can keep heaven in our heart.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start

The Sound of Music – Do Re Mi

[While I have no context from the memory itself with which to place it in my history (my next earliest memory is from approx. 3 years old), I can tell you this much.  Of all my memories, this is the most lucid.  In all honesty, it is more real to me than the present moment.  I remember the sensation very clearly (and the suddenness of it, although I have no idea what was before – or after), and the very real sense that as far as ‘I’ am concerned, this is the beginning of everything.  Beyond that, I post this without comment.]

…suddenly…it is pitch black. There is a kind of faint, low rumbling noise, but it seems muffled in some fashion.  I think to myself “What’s going on here?!”.  About 3 seconds later it becomes blindingly bright and the muffling recedes away (although the rumbling goes with it)…

[And that’s it!]

Game Theory

Kaylee: Well, you confound me some, is all.  I mean, you like me well enough, and we get along, and then you go all stiff.
Simon: I….I’m not…..I didn’t….
Kaylee: See you’re doing it right now!  What’s so damn important about being proper?  It don’t mean nothin’ out here in the black.
Simon: It means more out here.  It’s all I have.  I mean, my way of being polite, or however it’s….well it’s the only way I have of showing you that I like you.  I’m showing respect.

Firefly, Episode 7 – Jaynestown

…and that’s all I have to say about that…

Narrator:  …but for reasons that are only evident to me now, I understood that he simply wanted it more; that he just had more invested. 

So I left.

He had already performed the task, as I had intended to, of recording the conversations of the day, just in case.  Through that earpiece he had a 3-second lead on the world…

Primer

Cassie: I know the argument. I know the logic. You’re saying you need my vote. I’m saying you can’t have it.

Sunshine

Some people don’t do politics.  Some people don’t do religion.  Some people don’t do celebrities.

I don’t do advice.  Mostly.  Not for *me*, anyway.

To understand what I mean, you need to understand how it is I make decisions.  The most important point is that I do not think my decisions.  I feel them.  The way that this works is that I think about the thing I wish to consider and note my feelings as I do so.  Having done this, I have a conversation with myself where I give myself the logical arguments concerning the topic and then note how my feelings change.  Until my feelings resolve, I will do my best to hold off acting or speaking my opinion, except where I believe the hearer is likely to have a relevant perspective or insight.  As time passes, that happens less and less.

Indeed, on some unresolved questions I simply avoid discussing the topic wherever possible, because I’m utterly sick to death of hearing the same things over and over and over.  Indeed, most conversations I have where people try to give me advice, are conversations I have already had with myself on numerous occasions.  If I don’t listen to me, why in the world would I listen to you?  Even worse, it’s not like I can articulate why I’m disregarding you (remember it’s not a rational process), so I can’t even engage you.  I just have to smile and nod.  Don’t take it personal, like.  You’re still a wonderful human being.  And hey, I’m totally down for giving you advice anytime you like! 😉

The last thing to mention is that the timescales for this process can be extremely protracted.  Sometimes I’ve tried to force myself to take the seemingly logical option and stop what I consider to be procrastinating.  It rarely ends well.  I’ve realised that when I do that, I always feel like I’ve been unnecessarily rushed by someone else’s principles and priorities and that sense of confinement sabotages whatever it is I’m doing.  I’m learning to instead trust myself when my gut says “not yet”, even when no-one else gets it.

There is such a thing as exercising faith in yourself.

Commenter Derek R mentions this interesting piece and this caught my eye:

There’s a saying that you should never ask anyone why they love you. [This is news to me – where do they say this nugget of wisdom?]  This is true — don’t do it. You shouldn’t be rationalizing or analyzing that feeling because the more you do, the more it fades.

In general, I would agree with this.  Very often love is quite literally irrational, and I often think maybe it’s meant to be so, in order to remind us that the truly important things are felt rather than thought.

And yet there was this one time when I loved and knew why.  And even though I can honestly say I’m glad she found what she was looking for, it’s remembering the why that stops it truly fading.

Red, in The Shawshank Redemption, says it much better than I ever could:

I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone.

I guess I just miss my friend.

AiO #3: Diver Down

The road to hell is paved with “Hey! I’ve got a great idea!”

A Fraggle original…maybe…

Many years ago, I was on a youth camp where one of the activities was caving.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience as I recall, except for one particular moment, when while crawling on my belly through a rather narrow tunnel, my helmet became jammed between the floor and the ceiling.  I couldn’t work out how to go either forwards or backwards, or even turn my head.  I started to wonder how long I would be stuck there or how I could possibly be freed.  Thankfully, that didn’t last too long, as the helmet managed to unjam itself relatively quickly.  I got the dickens out of there and didn’t think much more of it.

Except I do.  In fact, it is the only thing I really remember of that caving trip, and I feel panic whenever I think of it.  It is to me a reminder, that it is quite possible to get yourself into situations that you have no means of escaping, where you lose all control.  I hate the feeling that comes with this particular memory.

When the opportunity arose, then, to go caving as part of a Singles event this past weekend, I knew I had to take it.  Right at the start, I have to say I started to think maybe it was a bad idea.  I was very tentative and felt all the nervousness of my memory returning.  After moving on to the next cave, though, I started to get bolder and very quickly got into the swing of things.

Just before the final cave exit was an especially narrow segment and the guide expressed doubt that I would fit.  After being given instructions on how to tell whether I would fit by the comfort of the approach, I entered the segment.  The approach turned out to be trivial, and so emboldened by that and the doable appearance of the tighest spot, pressed on.

As it was, not much of any concern happened.  I felt the ceiling brush the back of my boiler suit, but that was it.  Mission accomplished.

When I got back that night, I reflected on a job well done…and on how it was a good job the tunnel was a wide as I thought it was….and on how it would have been a nightmare to get to me if I had been wrong….

…oh dear…

The 'do' should be underlined as well!

The question is not whether we should or should not preserve the past, but what kind of past we have chosen to preserve. – Professor John Urry

I’ve known for a while that I am not a Conservative, but I have recently discovered that I’m not a conservative either, at least in my head. There have been a few changes in my life recently, all stemming from my decision at the beginning of the year to move out of my parent’s home. The way that decision came about leaves me convinced that the Lord has some purpose, yet to be revealed, in this happening, and I’m kind of excited to see what’s coming.

One of the changes is that I will no longer attend the congregation where I (both figuratively and literally) grew up. This means that the responsibilities that I had at that congregation have passed to another. I met with him on Tuesday to have a handover. He was one of my assistants before I left and so knew most of what I would pass on already, and I had witnessed his progression in the past couple of years. I came away from that meeting knowing that the Lord had put in place exactly who he wanted at the time he wanted it. One of the principles taught in the church is that one of the purposes of this life is to learn and grow by experience, and that our progression would be stopped if our circumstances stayed static. It’s interesting in this context to note that the Mormon definition of damnation is simply the cessation of progression.

As I consider these changes in my life and the troubles that we face as a people, it seems to me that we have imposed upon ourselves damnation of our society, and that conservatism is the root. We have a tendency as a culture to not just respect and learn from the past (there’s nothing wrong with that – indeed the ability to remember is, I would surmise, a fundamental prerequisite for intelligence), but also glorify it.  Some hark back to the days of empire, others dream of old pastoral England.  I’m sure we all get nostalgic.  It is important however, to see the past as it really is.  It’s very tempting to see the past (and the present) as the way things should be in the future, especially when we find that past comfortable personally.  The simple fact, however, is that change is the nature of life itself.  No moment is quite like another.  Your children will not be quite like you, and they will face a different situation than you did and will respond differently.

Indeed, we always subconsciously fight against this conservative notion.  We always have something we want to change, some way in which our lives can be improved.  To achieve it though requires the abandonment of the status quo.  In order for something to change, you must change something!  It seems absurd to say that in all its tautological glory, but it is a lesson often forgotten, not least of all by me.

So how do I think we damn ourselves as a society?  Here’s some suggestions:

  • We despise our political system and yet reject electoral reform.
  • We place the historical character of our towns and villages above the actual housing needs of people actually living.
  • We refuse to end the systemic robbery on which our economy is based, invoking the spectre of people possibly finding they need to move house.
  • We give people perpetual monopolies on our culture, in the name of protecting a cartoon mouse.

In order to progress, we’ll need to let go…

Note to My Future Wife

Dearest Sunshine,

First of all, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the wonderful times we’ve had so far together.   Especially all the times when I’ve done something ludicrously stupid, and you’ve just smiled and given me a hug.  Seriously, those moments are awesome!

Now you may be wondering why I’m writing this note.  Well, there’s something I need to say, and I don’t know how else to broach the subject, so I’ll just put it out there and let you ponder it in your own time.  After our whirlwind romance and shotgun wedding, you may not have realised that we are yet to spend Valentine’s Day together, and herein lies my quandry.

You may know by now that V-Day and I have never really gotten on.  It’s safe to say that this is one relationship that is beyond repair.  I know how much you appreciate romantic gestures, and I’m all for it.  I just hate to have other people tell us what our significant dates are.  It’s our marriage, after all, not theirs!

So here’s my proposal – and it can’t really be worse than the last one, eh?! 😉

I promise we’ll have Valentine’s Day every year.  With a card and everything.  Just not on the 14th of February.  We’ll mix it up and we can celebrate (ie theme the day by) any random event from our life together we want (like our first date, or our favourite song, or that time we broke down on the M25 in a blizzard – the sky’s the limit!).

I want Valentine’s Day to be ours, body and soul, and I don’t want to compete with everyone else for its affections.  It demeans us all.

I hope you like the idea.  It really means a lot to me, but so do you, and I want to know what you honestly think.

Love forever,

Your Adoring Fraggle

PS – We should see your parents this weekend.

PPS – Have you seen my socks?