Monday, May 21, 2012

Hollywood, CA

If a man can be star struck by a city, then I'm sure this is the place. I took my bike out for a ride on the streets and let my mind wander a bit. It seems that all the stars from the sky landed here in the city and there's nothing up above but smog. Don't get me wrong, I love it here, but it is quite...quaint. That truly is the best word to describe it for me, because if you look it up, by all definitions, that is how it appeals to and interests me. Every antique and refurbished part of this city is wondrous. The demographics are eclectic at best with one block fading from 10,000 homes to 10,000,000 homes depending on the block. It's ghetto on one side and ginormous on the other. It really brought me back to the days in Chicago or even Pittsburgh with the endless sidewalks and people that never sleep. I loved climbing the hills with palm trees swaying and the Hollywood sign fading in the twilight of the mini-mountain overlooking the star-filled city. I rode past Paramount Studios with its mountain logo on the water tower and its white painted studio number 5 and 6 looking down at me. I couldn't help but think of all the movies I've seen with that same logo and all the entertainment being made there to show off in the summers of the future. As I made my way up to the famous Blvd. with the same name, I let the sidewalk carve its dead names into my tires. Names like Nat "King" Cole, Bette Davis, and Gene Kelly. There were some that were a little more recent like George Clooney, Jim Henson, and Britney Spears. Each of them engraved in the stars of this land. When I thought about all this place represents, I couldn't help but smile. I love a good story, and I love storytelling, I am a creative writing minor after all, and I've loved movies since I can remember, but the trick to a good story is to help a person appreciate their reality better, to not take it for granted. I love my life, and I reckon Hollywood's made me appreciate it a little better now. Not just for the movies; tonight it was the story I'm making. Tonight, my wife cooked chicken for us for the first time, and now we're going to sit down and read scriptures together. I love her with all my heart, and I don't think there's any movie nor story that could be more beautiful and lovely than the one I'm living. I am so grateful for that.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Belief in Success

I listened to this song as I wrote this, you can listen as you read if you want. Just copy and paste.

Don’t let school get in the way of learning. Allow yourself to be the person you always wanted to be. Gather those things which will change your life. Keep yourself surrounded with success, innovation, and creativity. Allow yourself to be a collector of greatness, and then let it all out through the lens of your perspective. That is what makes you unique in your approach to the world. Be ready for negativity, but don’t give into it. Be positive in all you do. Don’t let setbacks be the downfall of your creativity. What you have is good. It’s better than good, because it’s yours. You have the ability to change the world. You only have to let them see through you all the greatness you have gathered in the course of your life. Intelligence, creativity, and insight are what make the difference between the average person and one who stands out to lead. Leaders can falter, but they always seek the betterment of those they lead. They teach. They learn. They are always growing. As we approach the future with faith, it will open up to us.

The future has happiness waiting, but now is the time for gaining it. We lead, we learn, we teach, we create, we grow, we become, in order that others may be happy along with ourselves. This is our purpose. Not temporal pleasure, but rather an everlasting joy that spans generations. The light of truth should shine from you in a way that none may deny the expanse of your greatness. For the betterment of humanity, we grow.

Hold onto success with an iron grip, never letting slack the guiding rail that leads to our glorious end. Never sleep or breathe unless it is for your betterment. Give into the uncomfortable inclinations of life which push you into a greater self. Don’t think you’re truly living until you want to achieve happiness as much as you want to breathe, until your whole being leads you toward eternity with a smile. Only then will you walk in faith, in confidence, in truth. Death waits for all of us, eternity smiles down on us, looking forward to our coming. What we do with our mind, with our actions, with our heart; that will determine our relationship with our destiny. We have to do what we have to do, no matter the consequences. We don’t stay alive to live, we live to be alive. Each day has an adventure, we have reasons all around us to live to the fullest, and agency can give us the desire to accomplish that fullness. The reason it matters to gain all of this? Because it’s now, because it’s here. Be present, be whole. Laugh. Create. Be happy. This is how I strive to become every day.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Some people go their whole life not knowing what love is. I've known my fair share of it, but never quite as truly as this. At the risk of being slightly sappy, but also completely honest, I say in the great words of Buddy the elf, "I'm in Love! I'm in Love! And I don't care who knows it!" Rachel Renae Johnson has absolutely transformed my world from one of greatness to superlative splendor beyond my wildest dreams. Don't get me wrong, love is a messy thing, with vicissitudes on every corner, living minute to minute crying and laughing, dancing and dying, yet it is more than worth it. It is something that bards and poets have been spouting on about for centuries, the stuff that drives men to war and women to surmount obstacles in their way. Love is generally the driving force of humanity and is complete in its ability to perfectly reflect the one supreme Godlike emotion. It brightens every color and gives light to every shadow. I do not exceed my boundaries by vivifying the various verbiage of this valorous veneration, for that is what love does. To truly know what love is, one must experience it, and those that have know that it is something that cannot be learned from research; believe me, I know. It breeches all vainglory and puts out all selfishness. Sometimes it hits you at second sight, and in that moment, only a fool would avoid capitulation to its enticements. Shakespeare said, "For stony limits cannot hold love out,And what love can do, that dares love attempt." It truly makes all things possible and brings wings to a man's heart. I know I may be perceived a mushy twit for such writings as these, yet this is my feeling, and my life right now. I have searched long and hard, and I have finally found that person willing and sweet enough to reciprocate my love. I love this girl, I truly do. The whole world should know, for they only dream of grasping a portion of what I've found. I'm a blessed and lucky man, and I'm only grateful for it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


In light of recent events of no particular significance, I have yet again come to the conclusion that I have a great life. So many things that seem to be in utter chaos seem to fall into a universal symmetry, allowing me to be benign regardless of so-called trials. I've learned the power of choices and how my agency is controlled by no one except me. In choosing the better part I align myself with a course set toward truth and light, one that doesn't falter for its very foundation is unshakable and set in the bosom of eternity. This journey toward further truth has outlined the importance of the basics. In those truths which make up the roots of my tree I have found serendipity more than once. The branches hold some of the mysteries to life and truths which are enlightened in due time, yet the base is where I retract to in order to reset. A revamping of sorts seems to be the circular motion of my life. I come to know certain things and gain a firm grasp on them, then when I think I'm good on my own and steer toward pride, I falter and wane. Yet, when I repent, changing my view of myself and everything else around me, I remember what I'm fighting for. "He that holds out faithful to the end shall in no wise lose his reward. A good man will endure all things to honor Christ, and even dispose of the whole world." -Joseph Smith (HC 6:427) The greatest thing about truth is that not only does it allow me to endure for a higher purpose, it becomes the framework to the joy that accompanies my endurance. One of my favorite analogies is how life is like climbing a mountain. We need to remember that each step is what makes us reach the top, sometimes we need to turn around and see how high we are already. The traveling is as much the point of the journey as the end result. Every moment holds an adventure to be had and a lesson to be learned. We fight for the ideal of freedom, yet the freedom is always right before us. We have every weapon within us to take from the enemy any liberty he may have stolen. Whatever your enemy may be, your capacity to fight is not being fulfilled, and the potential of the day can be met by choice. Your own self-actualization takes place the moment you embrace truth by choice and let go of favorite fetters. Take hold of the adventure before you that is life, and I promise it will unveil a happy soul. I know because I'm in the beginning stages of this adventure, and it is truly beautiful.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Challenge of Understanding

7 Months. That's how long I dated this girl. Her name is Rachel. She's one of my best friends and a truly great person. We broke up a few days ago. It came expectedly, sort of. We were planning on taking a break, but we were going to stay just as friends and enjoy the summer together, at least to keep each other company and relax on the pressures of figuring things out. I never tried to expect anything from her, only love her and treat her the best I knew how. I'm a very honest and open person, especially in relationships, and sometimes methinks it's intimidating. She's a very introverted person, so sometimes that was a challenge in knowing what was going on inside her heart and mind. I tried to figure it out, and sometimes I came close, but there was always a slight mystery to her, not knowing where she stood. This resulted in a few misunderstandings and miscommunications. I truly did my best to be there for her how she needed me, and some of my friends said they'd never seen a guy work so hard for a lady. Now that it's over, I feel the tiredness from it beginning to settle. I didn't realize how stressed the situation made me, and now, my body is feeling it; I'm physically sick and a little lost as to where I'm to go now and what I'm to do. I suppose I'm writing this now for the catharsis of my old friend, writing. It's always been an outlet for me, and perhaps will allow me to figure things out more. Yet, I am hopeful. As the good Doctor Seuss said, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go." My happiness is not conditional upon a girl. Although she made me more happy, I know that I can be happy without her. The future is always bright, no matter the speed bumps of the present. I decide my own happiness, and though it's hard to figure out, I am not a victim of circumstance, I am a proactive being, working to make the most of my life. I have things I need to work on, I know that, but as I progress into the future, my best just gets better. I am sorry when there are those who belittle me for my weakness, pointing them out, even though I already knew they were there. Yet, I am strong and independent. I don't really care what others say about me, only that which God and His servants perceive. So, as I improve, so does my chance for greater happiness. I love love, with all of its vicissitudes and strange idiosyncrasies. This is to futures unknown and the faith that brings joy to it. That risk is always worth it, even when it ends in un-understandable failure. And to optimism accompanied by the hope the atonement gives, which has always pulled me through the hardest time of my life. I always have to live by my favorite scripture: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."-Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gusher, UT

Today, for most of the day, I chased cows. I separated them, ran them down, pushed them into a chute. My dad, Eric, and I were joined by my mom's cousin Lloyd (whose cows they were), a random person named Richard, and John Mathis; from the State House of Representatives. He's a good vet, an okay politician, and a terrible farmer, but that's beside the point. The snow gets cold as you constantly stand in it and the weather here isn't that helpful either, since the Uintah Basin is generally the coldest place in Utah and Gusher is usually the coldest place in the Basin. But this is my home. Manure was frozen to my boots, the dog was chasing the cows in the wrong direction, and my dad has a constant yell of, "Hurry up boys!" and "Get 'im!" in this situation. None of this phased me much though, since it is something that has been a part of my life since birth. This little farm contains a piece of me that is omnipresent in my character, whether subconsciously or not.
Tonight the horses got out of the gate after all that other fun work with the cows was done. This is a constant danger when working with animals: they're always looking to escape so that they can be caught again. After chasing the three of them for about an hour, we caught two of them and the other almost trampled my sister in his escape. With a few U-turns and Utah swear words, I headed up past my grandpa's to yet again chase this elusive horse. I parked and tromped through the crunchy snow, finding him whinnying frustratedly as he couldn't reach his compadres that were my grandpa's horses on the other side of the fence. I slowly wrapped the bailing twine around my glove as I walked and let go of my previous annoyance with a smile. I decided to not outrun him, for he is a horse which equals the speed and power of one horsepower, but rather to befriend him. I made him jealous at first, showing the other horses all the affection by scratching their ears and chins as they timidly wobble their heads into my hands. Not wanting to miss out on this action, our lone, adventurous horse sheepishly comes forward to the hands that have fed him over this break. I slowly put the string around his neck and smile at my animal friend and the success. Patience and kindness beat out anxiety and aggression.
Last night I sat on a hay bail as I loaded the feed to take a break. The sun was setting with all the majestic purples, oranges, and blues that it entails. The horses were silhouetted by a lake of pure, undefiled snow in the hay field behind them. And a few blue birds came from nowhere to sit atop a weed coming out from under the shed; standing in stark contrast to the circumstance of weather, yet nonetheless adding to the overall beauty of the scene. And from all this I thought, "God really loves me. I'm lucky to grow up here." It's true as true. Why are these stories relevant? Because of what I already wrote. This is home. This is what I stemmed from. For all its quirks and idiosyncrasies, Gusher is my home. The lessons it holds are endless, and the grace it lends, if it has any, is consistency. I love it. It is one of the most beautiful places on Earth; but methinks it takes someone who grew up here to truly appreciate it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Not to be too cliche' or to beat the dead horse of mission talk, but I have come to ponder and reflect on my mission over and over again as time goes by. In all reality, there isn't a day that goes by where I don't think of my mission in some form or fashion. My first Mission President, President Albert E. Haines III, used to always call it the "laboratory for life." I've come to appreciate that analogy as I've seen the controls and variables of my mission consequentially poke their head out in the practicality of 'real life.' I talk to my friends, brother, sister, roommate, professors, church leaders, etc. every day, and in each of those conversations it seems that I cannot get away from the oftly repeated phrase, "On my mission..." Now unless you've been on a mission, and I mean really been on one, not only go to the MTC, use the plane ticket to wherever, and live in some place for two years; what I'm talking about is the full immersion of self in service, to take your heart and put it in the Lord's hands and allow Him to mold it more than almost any other experience allows you to; unless you've done that, you can't know exactly why that phrase lights itself in my conversations so oft, or why others seem to do it repeatedly as well. My mission has accentuated every good trait that God has blessed me with and has exterminated many of the ill ones I lived with for the first 18 years of my life; if it did not exterminate it, it tempered and dulled it to less than it was. Every facet of my being has been enlightened by the experience and has illuminated my life from the inside growing outward. The profundity of it is to see my life's abrupt change from a mediocre boy to a motivated man. "I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak, therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast in my God, for in His strength I can do all things." (Alma 26:12) This is my secret to happiness and the change that has been wrought. I can equate all of the trouble I have caused myself to selfishness and pride. Humility on the other hand, has only ever contributed to the furthering of my happiness. This lesson alone takes most men decades to realize, if some even ever realize it at all. This is only one of the many thousands of principles that so transfigured my life when I lived in Chicago. So in the faces of scorn which respond to my repetition of "On my mission..." will I smirk at their ignorance and hopefully portray to them some of the joy, nostalgia, and impact which this statement induces within my soul.