Sordid thoughts on the lowly things

Here we are beginning another week.  I admit, I am torn in so many ways.  What to do?  Where to go?  These are questions that I suppose creep up in our lives when we are just not quite as sure of things as we would like.
My job has become just that.  I am not motivated by money and they keep trying to entice me with it.  Well, in the end, I find myself doing the same routine, with not much improvement.  Well, I lie.  Every week so far has been an improvement in my earnings.  This past week I made more than six hundred in a week, before taxes and all.  So I guess that is a good thing.  But that is not how I measure my effectiveness.  Never has been, never will be.  Why would I use Babylon’s measuring rod?  How many lives am I influencing?  Is my family the better for it?  Am I happy?  And then the answer comes in at a stark no.
I get to go around and meet a wide variety of people.  That is most definitely true.  However, while I do feel we have a valuable tool, and a good product for those who need supplemental insurance, I am finding many people who have this as their only insurance.  They are content to believe that this is going to cover their needs and that is not the truth.  I think most understand this is not major medical, but for the fact that these people are poor and paying for this bothers me.  Now for the craftsmen and heavy laborers who carry this, I most certainly think it is the best thing for them.  So I am touching these people’s lives, and getting to meet them.  But I am not convinced I am leaving them better off in the end.
It most certainly is a worthwhile time to visit and see all these places.  I have always been fascinated by geography and love to travel.  This job has catered to that desire.  I have been to the birthplace of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe.  I have been to the place where John Wilkes Booth was hiding, found, shot, and killed.  The historic Northern Neck of Virginia, while slightly penetrated, has been interesting.  But all this traveling takes time and money.  By which I travel and find the homes of these people, which are literally everywhere, so the byproduct is I learn the territory.  However, I am finding that running a household, a wife in school, and other costs take one’s funds.  In the end, I can afford the $100-$130 I am spending on fuel.  But I am worried that by breaking even, I am not saving to replace or add to the vehicle that is being required to drive the minimum of 1,000 miles a week.  With 183,000 miles plus on the car, I should be saving or paying for another vehicle rather than running into the ground the only means of income and transportation, for two, I currently have.  That just seems dumb to me.  In the end, it is not making enough money to pay for a car payment a month, nor to save up for a new car at a later point.
What about the next point?  What about my family?  Well, the last week, I certainly made the most of what I have made yet with the company.  But having said that, I am leaving at 9 in the morning, and returning at 9 or 10 at night.  If I was single, that would not be so much the issue.  I have a wife that is at home.  She can surely spend the time studying or whatever else without my interference.  When I finally get home though, I am exhausted.  I need to eat and go to bed.  She is kind enough to provide the food.  By the time we read our scriptures, pray, get ready for bed, and make it in, I am beyond my bedtime.  We have spent little or no social time, and other events are just a pain.  That is fine for a little while, but it really starts to add up in the long run, and I am not willing to make that type of a sacrifice.  The job is on the altar before the wife.
Lastly, am I happy.  Well, I surely enjoy the traveling and people.  It does grow wearisome at times though.  I love meeting people, I love seeing these new places.  However, the chances of my meeting these people again are slim.  It was not like spraying lawns at all!  Many of them gripe and moan they have to pay this again, and the rest are just a pain to track down.  It wears on me.  What wears the most is that I don’t have time to do things I wish to do.  I take the LSAT this weekend and I have no time to really practice for it.  That bothers me.  What is worse that when I do get time to myself, I use it for other things than studying.  I have other things I place more importance on and since I never get to do them, then the lesser things don’t come up.  So now what?  I am not going to postpone it again.  I should have just taken it in June.
So, after seeing this whole thing now play out, I am not impressed with the fruits.  I planted the seeds, I have lingered, waited, and prayed long enough.  The fruits appear to be bitter and if I allow the tree to continue to grow, it will only grow more wearisome and bitter.
I don’t even think it is so much Combined that I am having the issues with.  I wonder how much more effective I could be if I were to be trained in how to sell.  Would that little extra bit every day make it more worth it?  Would I be able to stop earlier from working knowing I had met the monetary needs?  Who knows.  Probably.  If I could spend less time working to make the same amount, that would be good.  If I could lay some aside for other purposes, that would be helpful.  All I know, something has to change, now.
Having said all that, I wonder about the other side.  Could there be something more I am missing?
What about those who say stick with it?  Grin and bear it?  It will all work out in the end.  I have thought quite a bit about Joseph of old.  He was in prison and a very unlikeable position.  But he bore through it with faith and came out on top.  My leaders at work keep wanting to put me into executive training.  In fact, if I would have agreed, I would be in Virginia Beach all week for it.  (But what of the LSAT then?  Being gone all week seems to only compound the problems.  Best part, they don’t even pay for your being gone so I would sacrifice a week for no pay!)  So, do I endure, make my way to management, and then what?  Well, I will be expected to train.  How in the world can I train on something I have yet to learn to do?  Nobody seems to be willing to train me and I obviously have not worked it out yet.  As Marc says, I am making what money I am by pure hard diligence and work.  That is noble and all, but he makes the same I do with only half the hours.  Yet getting him to train me is like pulling teeth.  Endure….where is the line where you simply throw your hands in the air and say I am moving on?
Much on the mind lately is the thought that perhaps I am meant to be here for some reason or another.  Marc has accepted an invitation to attend General Priesthood with me on Saturday Night.  That is great news.  I would like to endure enough to see him read the Book of Mormon and join the church.  However, should I gain one soul for the kingdom and give up everything for that one?  Honestly, I don’t see anything breaking down in my relationship with Amanda, but do I want to take that chance?  It is hard to be a nice person when I am not completely satisfied with my job.  Amanda takes some of the brunt of that.  There are two reasons why I have stuck with the job so far.  Simply because I need some income to provide for those things that are essentials (granted this house is more than we need, but it is still inexpensive compared to renting an apartment).  Secondly, in the hope that Marc will feel of the Spirit and be converted.  With my being away from the company the chances of his keeping his commitments and being converted are greatly reduced.  He has no one else to challenge and teach.  I told the missionaries about him coming on Saturday.  I sure hope we can get his address and a commitment to take the missionary discussions.  That will sure take a load off of me!
Yes, I believe it is time for a change.  But where to?  What shall I do?  Where shall I go?

Oh the nothingness

Here I write once again.  Sometimes life seems so full of everything, and other times as if this broad expanse of nothingness.  The variety of individuals I have the privilege of being with is amazing.  Their view, their outlook, the goals, their aspirations, their weaknesses all seem to vary so much.  The variety and style prompts me to proclaim how wonderful and amazing they are.  The intelligence that is so encompassing held by just a dozen people is staggering.  Yet, sometimes I wonder if they know one iota of anything concerning themselves and eternity.  People seem to be so good, wonderful, and helpful and in the same breath so greedy, selfish, and conceited.  What an education far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
Sometimes I wonder about the words of C.S. Lewis about when one recognizes themselves, that becomes the basis of pride.  Yet, one star is greater than another, one is always greater than another.  Perhaps we can recognize our own individuality but should be highly cautious about setting ourselves up over other people.  That is what the world is teaching.  You are special, it doesn’t matter what anyone is or does, you are better than they are.  That is false.  We are special, we are individuals, but we are a part of the fabric and an essential player.  We cannot be independent of all others.  No man is an island.  To think we are to be our own man, independent of the God who created us, and the fellow citizens of the earth only creates a bunch of insufferable show offs.  It breeds relativism and more conflict in the world.
While I have no doubt of the place of America in the role of the world, I find it scary that we subscribe to the belief I just mentioned.  I remember in England when an American could not understand one with the local dialect, they met it characteristically with talking a little louder and asking a question a little slower.  It wasn’t them who had the problem, it ws the individual speaking!  We expect the world to revolve around us and pay us all the respect we believe is our due.  We claim the rest of the world has pride and arrogance, even ignorance; when I must admit I think we are the one guilty of the charge.  Is it any wonder the French have problems with us?  In their history individuals given power rather than a government has produced “The Terror”.  Why wouldn’t we expect them to react the way they did when we gave more over arching powers to the executive?  When the power of waging war and of going into battle was given in their country, it led to a man seeking to rule Europe.  Add that to their condition of their neighbors who have taken them over because of what they deemed as right.  Of course France is not supportive of our going into another country to further ideals of democracy.  We can see why they don’t like capital punishment, the guillotine is a national symbol still to them.  That is something they will forever buck at.  What is more, we hover and watch them and give them the cold shoulder.  Not as a brother in the world should do, but as a lesser creature.  Someone who is to not be associated with on the playground.  We act the bully, and then when they bristle or don’t fall in line, we scorn and mock them.  Try and turn our friends against them to persuade them to be with us.  Looking back, that bully did hold their power for time.  What ever happened to the bully.  I hope we became more mature, that we all become equal, but it isn’t true.  I know of three who bullied me in elementary and junior school, and sadly they find themselves on the lower of the totem pole in life today.  I do not know if this would be true generally or across the board, but it is in my life.  Sadly, I expect the same thing will happen eventually to us as a nation.
Then I look at other nations who are different.  Others with different goals and perspectives.  We eye them with caution and expect they must have questionable motives.  The uncertainty always creates fear doesn’t it?  “I have often thought to myself, what is to be done?”  Education is our only hope.  Just like Thomas Jefferson I find myself thinking that our only hope would be education and the constant expansion of our understanding.  It must be understood, retained, and constantly built upon.  Just like Joseph Smith taught of the need for increasing light and knowledge, Thomas Jefferson admonished, and Allan Bloom admonishes we must find and constantly be analyzing.  We find our beliefs, seek out further light, compare it to what we have, and throw away what doesn’t work.  Leave it behind, keeping a faithful record of where we have been.  Sadly, such a case does not seem to be on the books today.  Like I mentioned the case of relativism seems to be taking hold with all its disastrous underpinnings.  James Madison made it clear that without the moral compasses and moorings that come from religious principles, the looking out one for another, democracy would drift and fall.  Without morality democracy will pass as all the others have before our time.
Odd isn’t it.  We are so smart, yet we never counsel with history.  Is it any wonder we are so seriously admonished to remember.  Rather than condemning, let us seek.  Rather than finding our lines and demanding nobody to cross over, why don’t we step over them ourselves and act as more faithful pilgrims and wanderers?  The glory of God is intelligence isn’t it?  When slapped, turn your cheek and move on.  Service to your enemies and comfort to those who are weak.  Revenge is never the order of the day.
It all starts with the individual.  From there the example is powerful.  There is great hope in the world.  There is great possibility of potential.  Why are we focused on fear?  Why not look to the future?  Fear only cripples.
Inside the world, in my own personal life, there is much to look forward to.  I find in myself a growth and a bright outlook.  It all comes in the name of Amanda Hemsley for me.  Burton K Wheeler and Jared Diamond have been my meat recently.  Not to mention the studies of Iranian business deals and American history that have been my research.  There has been a constant barrage of information which have helped to temper me and my zeal.  Somehow though, the introduction of another who is to be considered as yourself changes things drastically.  My vision has expanded not only of the world from her eyes but the view from my own.  It tempers the excitement of youth even more, but gives more drive for the future.  Somehow the clutch of individualism is disengaged and one finds themselves propelled faster and further along the road of life.  I am not even married yet!  The walk continues, but it is taking on new vistas.  I leave the Rocky Mountains with dizzying height and glamor to the more humble and open expanse of the plains.  It is not that there is less to see, nor is there less to experience.  It is just different.  The ecosystem is just as open, but a new road.  The anticipation is great.  Where will it take us?  How far will it take us?  Shall we circle the earth or walk slowly to Blair, Nebraska?  Either one, I am content.
She is most beautiful, captivating, and sublime.  I have not potential to describe the connection in those eyes and how far the warmth of her body seems to penetrate.  This world is definitely beyond the physical.  We don’t even know all the aspects of the physical, but already many doors are open for emotional and spiritual travel.
I found one of her hairs today.  It glistened and somehow represented something so far away.  It was only a memento that was obviously manifesting of her presence.  Yet she is so far away.  This part is not even living, but yet it speaks of her.  How many hairs in the world do I see, yet lose their true significance.  I have eyes but do not see.
Life is more than just me.  I focus on myself so much, everything revolves around my life, because that is me.  It is unavoidable.  But the greatest joys come in the life of others.  Burton K Wheeler’s experiences are now a part of my own.  His personality has become a part of mine.  While the stories and the times may melt, I have been changed and can clearly link it to him.  The same with Cecil D Andrus’ life.  On and on and on.  Oh if I could implore more people to record their lives and write their stories!  What I would not give to read the same of my ancestors.  My grandmother’s journal was a portal into another’s life.  However, that life is an extension of me.  While Brother Wheeler is far more removed, he is still a part of the country I now life, and that is part of me as well.  I was so sure to go out and define the world and change it according to my view.  I am coming to find out that the world has created much of what I am.  It has changed me.  It used to be such a negative view.  I always knew what needed to change and what I was to do.  Now it is the opposite.  What can I learn from it to apply in life.  I seek more and more.  Dismissing those which are of lesser quality and holding to those which are more true.
Is it any wonder we are exhorted to seek out knowledge.  It is the only thing that will save us.  Especially that knowledge which is most important.
Amanda came to visit over last weekend.  All my time with her is something to be cherished.  We learn so much from each other.  I learn so much from her.  She amazes me.  She is so pure and wonderful.  She makes me wish I was better, glad I receive her love, and yet honoured.  I love her and hope we will forever build upon that.  We are both just humble enough to learn from each other and to walk the path together.  As we grow, how much more sweeter can it possibly become?
Oh the nothingness of man.  God rules the nations and the earth inasmuch as we let him.  He oversees all and knows all things.  May we learn of him rather than to pontificate to the world what they should know.  There is so much to learn.  May I always be learning and seeking?  Rather than the one giving instruction.  Reminds me of Socrates always asking the questions rather than giving the answers.  Good night.