Sunday, November 29, 2009

Music brings beauty into life

Of the many topics that I feel strongly about, music would be among the top five. A small disclaimer I shall make note of first and foremost. I do not wish to establish my opinion as doctrine here. I will share my feelings, thoughts, and, yes, my opinion on music.
Last week I mentioned that I do not like to surrender my ability to choose what music will play. I don't like giving that freedom to a radio DJ whose values most likely are not even close to my own. This week I wish to mention the qualities that I look for in songs.
Firstly, I like music that has lyrics that elevate my thoughts to a new plane of thinking. I thoroughly enjoy uplifting lyrics. Sometimes I want to remember my covenants as a church member. Sometimes I want something that is fun. Sometimes, many times in fact, I want something that draws me closer to the Lord (hard to find any of these on a typical radio station, wouldn't you agree?).
When it comes to romantic lyrics, I like them to be about the action of love. Remembering anniversaries and important dates, bringing home flowers, valuing family above all else. Such words are hard to find most days. With regard to past relationships, sometimes I want to avoid romantic songs because they stir up those old emotions. Digging up those feelings doesn't help me move forward in life. Depending on my mood and thoughts that day, I may elect to listen to a romantically touching song or change to another composition.
When I hear lyrics that complain of a lost relationship or the related pain I often hope that the composer finds resolution. If not, I'll leave the song alone. I want my pain to be resolved. I don't want to wallow in it.
When my lyrical desires are met I often look at style (genre). Is it played in good taste? Is there a musical part that is overpowering everything else? Are the parts balanced? Is the melody somehow inspiring? Some of my music is instrumental and that is especially when I start to listen to the parts. I want to hear the individual instruments playing.
To speak the utmost truth, those are the major qualities I examine when I listen to music. I like to appreciate music. Rock often gives me a headache because much of rock slaughters one or the other requirement (sometimes both).
I would like to share some of the most profound and interesting lyrics I have heard (title, artist, and album are in parenthesis).
"Lord I need to know, my mind is playing games again, you're right where you have always been" (I will Rest in You, Mindy Gledhill, The Sum of All Grace)
"Have I blown all my chances to be less like the captive and more like the free?" (A Little More Like Thee,same)
"Oh great God, are you small enough?" (Small Enough, same)
"If anybody asks, I'm making friends at last with my reflection in the glass...I'm like a fire in the night, I'm burning up with all my might. Don't wanna flicker out of sick and fade into the morning light..." (Feather in the Wind, Mindy Gledhill, Feather in the Wind)
"I'm free to jump, free to fall, free to let it roll away when I drop the ball" (Falling and Flying, same)
"You will change the stars much faster if you trust yourself to open your own door, keep pushin' on" (Keep Pushin' On, Eclipse, For Show)
"The view I love the most is my front porch lookin' in" (Front Porch Lookin' In, Lonestar, The Greatest Hits)
I think those will suffice for now. When I remember more, I'll post them as well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This one will probably have a little of everything

So this post just might be the longest I'll write and my thoughts suggest parts will relate to all the topics and labels on this blog. My thoughts have become poignant and I hope that I can express what I would like to here.
While at a friend's home to play Rock Band last week I mentioned I was unfamiliar with all the songs listed. One person responded, "Don't you listen to the radio?" I kept my silence, but the question evoked some profound thoughts. I don't listen to broadcast radio unless I'm listening to the news, weather, or the KSL talk shows with Doug Wright or Sean Hannedy. The depth of my thoughts continued when I asked myself "Why?" The reason roles back to my resistance to surrender my moral agency. I will choose. I don't like the radio because most often I find myself listening to the music that others, including the host, like. I don't like surrendering my ability to choose what music will play to someone I do not know. I won't let someone who probably doesn't hold at least some of my same values choose what I will hear. I WILL CHOOSE!!! I don't use cruise control because I will choose my speed and I will maintain it. I will not surrender myself to a faulty electronic system. Even watching TV can become tiresome for me because I'm choosing who will select my programming. Moral agency is the greatest God-given gift that each and every individual has, second to the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ. I don't remember the battle nor the details of it, but it is recorded that there was a war in Heaven over this principle. I felt strongly enough about moral agency that I fought for it. I won't surrender it to a bottle, a substance, a form of electronic equipment, or a person who, for all intensive purposes, is unknown to me.
Some days ago I received a phone call from a dear friend, one that I wasn't expecting nor did I want. Afterward, I felt to say this:
"Lord, put me through the refiner's fire and make me pure
Put me on the front lines of the battle, I'll fight for you.
Let the challenge and trial come
Let the rain pour down in torrents
My home is built upon your Rock.
I pray that Thou wouldst help me pick anchors that are strong.
May my selected armor be Thy armor.
While in the fire, grant me patience to bear.
Let me come out of the flame having become holy
May war lead me to lean on Thy ample arm
I hope trial will remind me to be humble.
I'll go through the fire, just be with me while I'm there."
Last night I had the awesome opportunity to go to the Oquirrh Mountain temple. My brisk pace took me in the front door quickly and there awaited a sister. "Do you have a reservation?" I didn't flinch nor did I despair when I responded that I did not. "Can you change [your clothes] quickly?" I answered in the affirmative. "You're in luck then because we can fit you into the 6:30 session." I almost did not believe the divine providence. The Lord wanted me to be there. My favorite part of going to the temple is being in the Celestial room. It's special in that place and I love being there. Especially since I feel closest to the Lord there, close enough to talk to Him. Before returning home, I purchased a notebook in which I shall write down my feelings and thoughts while I'm there.
A while ago I posted a list of recently purchased music from the iTunes store. Here are a few more:
Next Door to Eden (Album) - Drew Reese
A Good Man - Emerson Drive
Amarillo Sky - Jason Aldean
My Front Porch Lookin' In - Lonestar
There are more, but I'll not list them. There are enough of them. Eight days ago I was working, in the snowstorm no less, when the chorus lyrics of Amarillo Sky came to mind:
"Lord I never complain and I never ask why
Please don't let my dreams run dry
Underneath, underneath this Amarillo sky."
I stopped complaining about the cold wind and the falling snow. I kept singing to myself those words to uplift myself.
I don't believe in fairy-tale romances. I'm not Prince Charming nor do I ride a white horse. I'm not seeking a princess locked in a tower. I don't intend on fighting any dragons along the way (intentions and actions do not always match...) In terms of love and romance I rely on doctrine as taught by the prophet and his counselors and the twelve apostles. I rely on their teachings with regard to dating. Establish a friendship. Go out, just the two. Stop hanging out. If she says no or breaks up, move on. Feelings of love will remain, of course. That's normal. Move forward with life because it'll get better. I decided that I shouldn't worry that my emotional reactions are not typical. After all, I'm atypical myself. Everything I do will be different for what other people do.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where have my feelings gone...?

I recently had a conversation about emotions. Most days mine are dead, or so it would appear. My parents' divorce did little to move me. I shed tears of sorrow with both parties, but did not cry for my own loss. When told that I would be incompatible with someone I admire deeply, I didn't flinch. Didn't hesitate. My answer was quick, logical and dry. "What can be said?" was my response. When confronted for ineptitude at work, my stare is dry and blank.
I feel anger and frustration at times, particularly when I no longer feel in control of or at least aware of the situation. I feel impatient with my own imperfections.
So are these things called emotions dead? Not yet. However, I do worry that many of my emotions are negative, intense emotions. I'm glad I learned to suppress and control my anger. Frustration is still hard to keep a hold on, but I'm learning.
The emotions and feelings I feel are sometimes missing or fleeting are love and happiness. I feel viral. When I begin to like someone there are feelings of excitement to see her and contentment when we're together. Satisfaction is particularly fleeting. To feel real, strong love has yet to come.
The most disheartening is that in situations that would normally produce deep sorrow produce nothing in me. Unless resolve is counted. Logical analysis of the situation begins and leads into resolved action to correcting the present situation or avoiding it in the future.
Sometimes my emotions are suppressed but not fully and have a delayed response. I spent ten days in euphoric enjoyment of being home from my mission then suddenly a breakdown. Hot, sorrowful tears of saudades (a complete English translation is unavailable) flowed like syrup on pancakes. When one relationship ended the analysis began and I began looking again, almost immediately. However two weeks later when she moved away, it finally hit me what had happened.
I'm not emotionally dead I've decided but I have determined that my emotions are messed up. Delayed reactions suck. I've yet to decide if the logical approach is any better. Is it normal to react with tears of deep sorrow, loss or regret? Or is the best approach to move on quickly?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More good things . . .

I prefer optimism over pessimism. I prefer the happy memories and days over the sad ones. I recognize the need to remember the good things the Lord has given me. And I shall relate some of those good things.
Despite having a long stretch of new concrete to pave last week we only worked the weekdays. To top it off, three of those five working days ended before dark. True that two ended after dark, I'm happy to have been off earlier than usual most nights. Forget that I missed a class session and had no time to complete my final project, hence likely earning a failing grade...I had a good week. To place the cherry on top, the weekend was off also.
Not working through the weekend gave me the chance to go to Salina and see my family. For the first time I was not going there to work nor to mourn. I returned to my roots to celebrate with five generations of Crane family members the ninetieth birthday of my great-grandfather. A happy occasion indeed.
There was even time to relax and watch movies. I watched G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra whle I was there. I'm thinking the next time I see it I will utilize a clearplay DVD player. I'm not so appreciative of the language nor of the excessive violence. Good will overcome evil, but I don't need to see the mutilation nor the death portrayed in such a strong manner. After I, Dad and Clint watched Battle for Terra, easily one of my favorite movies of the year. Definitely worth watching that one, again and again. My favorite line comes from the last 40 minutes of the movie. "I believe that in our darkest hour, the same qualities which made us great will make us strong. That love and mercy will overcome anger and hate..." I too believe that in our darkest hour the same qualities which made us great will make us strong.
Last week I attended a fireside with President Uchtdorf. This one was directed for the young single adults of the Church. One part in particular inspired me. He told the story of how he met his wife and what he endured while loving her for years and not receiving any reciprocation. This was, of course, while they were both young. When he got older he traveled and became a pilot and returned home to Germany. She was still in the same ward. A small conversation with her led him to realize that the time to act had come.
There is someone I've always admired and respected. Always. When I attended her homecoming commemoration in August I assumed I had no chance (due to several conversations to which I was privy to listen). But I feel the time has come and I'm moving to action.
Also to brighten my week I was able to give my foreman a quadruple combination (Holy Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) along with a The Restoration DVD. I'm hoping that in his darkest hour (his wife asked for a divorce Friday) he will turn to these books and find peace.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Much ado about . . .

I wonder how many opportunities I have and will yet pass up. Golden opportunities with friends and family. Chances to do good and better someone's life. Or perhaps a chance at improving my own.
I wonder how many times I'll blow the opportunity with how many great young ladies before I figure it out?
As much as my talk appears self-assured and confident and as though I have it all together yet I know so little. I have so little together.
What is up with me? How oft will I pass over or fail at relationships? Will I fail at the most important ones: the Lord, myself, and my family?