August 27, 2009

live long and prosper

This summer isn't the first time I've learned that, in William Faulkner's words, "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." I wonder sometimes what to make of this quote. Should we be sad that the past has a ceaseless grip on the present, or should it give us cause to rejoice? In the case of this photograph, I am glad that the past never leaves us.

Meet my Grandma and Grandpa Wilson. They both passed away before I was even a teenager, but I have certain unforgettable memories of them. One that really stays with me is an occasion when Grandpa and I were alone in his living room. He was kind of a quiet type in his later years, and we just sat in silence for a long time. After a while, Grandpa held up his arm and positioned his hand in the "Live Long and Prosper" symbol from Star Trek. That was the day I learned how to do that trick.

What does that moment really mean? I'm not sure. What I do know is that I smile to think of it. My only regret regarding my grandparents is that I wish I had had more time. I wish I had gotten to know them better while I had the chance.

... and that's where the present comes in. If we make our days worth living and create a constant flow of happy moments for ourselves, our past won't be lamentable. It will be a source of joy and comfort. That's not to say nothing bad will ever happen. These two lovely people are no longer on this world. But I can stand as a living legacy of their impact. And maybe that's all that matters. For today.

August 24, 2009

happy living

August 22, 1996
Today I played on the computer with Sarah. Then we played with water balloons. Next I watched TV. Guess What! On America's Funniest Home Vidio's a baby recited the Presidents's Names. I read my scriptures.

I wrote that entry in my journal thirteen years ago. There is nothing particularly spectacular about it. In fact, as I read through four of my old journals yesterday, I realized that none of the entries by themselves could capture the magic that I found in all of them collectively. In my first journal (1996), most of the entries consist of two or three sentences about what I did that day. I usually mention reading, exercising, going to church, reading scriptures, and playdates I had with my friends. In my eyes, all of it was "FUN!"

Each day was like a new little treasure. Everything was important. When Alisha was having a birthday party, it was important. When I swam underwater at the beach with my family, it was important. When Josh and I watched a movie together, it was important. When we sang songs in Sunday School, it was important. When Sarah and I invented a new game, it was important. When Stacy and I were "solving a mystery," it was important. I wrote about what I ate, who came over on a Sunday afternoon, what I named the bunnies we found in our front yard, getting haircuts with my siblings, having Family Home Evening on Monday nights, which books I checked out from the library... everything. Any time I met someone new, their name went in the journal. It was like everything and everyone was worthy of my attention.

Now? It's not that I'm not happy about my current journal, but it certainly lacks the excitement for life contained in the pages of my floral-print and Winnie-the-Pooh covered diaries. So is it just a question of age? Maybe. I've also wondered if it's a generational thing. Back then, very few families had internet access. I never had a cell phone until I was nineteen years old. While I played with computers (Atari, anyone?) and watched TV (Full House, anyone?), most of my entries are about reading books or playing outside. We were constantly creating our own fun instead of waiting for it to be served to us on an LCD screen.

I never meant for this to be a diatribe about technology. Really, I didn't. It's just that there is something about the modern day that makes everyone a lot more... apathetic. We are waiting for adventure to come to us. On our Facebook statuses, we tell the world we're doing "nothing" or having a "boring day," when really, we probably had lunch with a friend or finished a good book or played a fun game that day. So what makes something worthy of our excitement anymore? Are we waiting for something "big" like getting married or traveling to Europe? Or can we find it in the small things of daily life?

In fact, let's get rid of that term. "Daily life." It somehow connotes that quotidien normality is mundane and boring. Why not love the routine? Or why not create a life where nothing is routine? A life in which our day's events are "FUN" and worth writing about?

Wednesday, July 16, 1997
As I now write in this book I wish the best to all the adventures I have in the years to come. Happy Reading!

... and for now: Happy Living!

August 21, 2009


A wise friend once said to me that people have an extraordinary ability to adapt their new realities. She made this comment while I was in France and I had to agree. There, my "new reality" sometimes felt like it was all I had ever known. Endless baguettes, goat cheese, and "Ca va?" eventually came to represent a kind of familiarity. Even a normality.

In spite of this fact, I tend to feel uneasy about change. I grasp at the sands of the present only to find them slipping through my fingers faster and faster. Every time I think I've adjusted to a new reality, an even newer one presents itself and I wonder if I can keep up with the pace. It's like I have to run to keep up with my own life. (For the record, I've never been very good at running. I was one of those kids who received a "Participation" ribbon at field days in elementary school.) And just as I settle into a routine, just as I'm beginning to adjust to my new reality... it's broken or disturbed by change.

That's not to say that there isn't an element of change that I love. I remember as I was waiting to board the plane to France, I kept thinking of how much I love airports. There is just something special about them. No matter what, it seems like something efficacious is happening: you're either embarking on a new adventure or kicking the traveler's dust off your shoes and returning home.

"Airports see it all the time, where someone's last goodbye blends in with someone's sigh because someone's coming home."

... and that's the way this wheel keeps working. We roll along in tandem with the ever-changing present and the result is an ever-changing self. We're constantly being refined by our experience. And if we let it, all these changes can create an extraordinary individual in us that we never knew could exist.

Yet I still wish my family didn't have to leave tomorrow. I was just getting used to having them here. I wish my dad could have come on this trip. I wish this weren't my senior year at BYU because I don't want to say goodbye to that reality, either.

And maybe it's my uneasiness about change that has led me to accruing outlandish fees because I just can't bring myself to turn in my RedBox rentals or my library books.