The Probationary Game

Sometimes the days go by so quickly it is hard to keep up with everything you want to do.  I suppose it is part of the probationary game that we play.  Do we do things we want to do, or do we do what needs to be done.  Is there ever a point where you have everything done you need to do and can do those things you want?
To add to that problem, what about when it comes to the needs and wants of others.  I have come to believe that my needs come before my  wants.  What happens when somebody else has a need, for which I can help, does that trump my wants too.  So far in my life, it seems that is to be the case as well.
Today is a great example.  Brother and Sister Swapp were moving from their present house to another home within a mile distance.  I volunteered my time knowing how much it helps in having people to aid in moving.  I could very well have stayed at home and done many more other things, even things I think are more important.  But the need of the Swapp family ranked higher on the priority list.  For the most part, we finished all the move in about 4 hours.  I then had to very quickly, go home, get ready, and be back at the church in order to play piano for a baptismal service.  It went well, I enjoyed a few visits with some good people, took the missionaries home, and here I am back at home.
We are still not totally unpacked.  I feel like I should unpack, but I also feel a need to inform other people and let them know what is happening here.  I think there may be some procrastination in there, but I really want to record some thoughts and update the family and friends.  It takes time and effort to do this.  But I hope is that I feel a need to keep others informed and that overrides my wants of having my whole house unpacked and put away.  It will come.
I find myself at work 40 hours of the week.  The time we have for breaks and at lunch is not sufficient time to even read much of my book.  That is if I am a complete hermit and choose not to spend time with my classmates.  So half the week I spend eating lunch with them and listening most of the time.  I am the only guy in the group and they have a whole different set of things they want to talk about.  I will probably have to cut back some of that time as I don’t see it really doing much more than listening to conversations which are not of much value intellectually or socially for me.
I have books I want to read.  I still have McCullough’s Truman on the shelf and have had it for a couple of years.  It is a big book so it keeps falling down the list from other shorter books.  I have been struggling to find the time to finish Tiger in the Senate about Wayne Morse.  (He was a Senator from Oregon in the senate during the 40’s-60’s.)  I want to learn French, I want to relearn German, I want to learn Welsh, I want to write a book on C Ben Ross, I want to live in England, I want to visit friends and family, I want to read many more books, I want to learn so much, and yet these things keep falling by the wayside.  They really are good things, but somehow I cannot justify they are needs.
Just this week we helped the Jeppesen, Maravilla, and Swapp families move.  I have gone out with the missionaries and I have gone Home Teaching.  In addition, I have tried to make sure our budget is still planned, keep up to date on the registers and bills, answer the mail, write a letter to Mom, and many other things.  On top of that are the every day walk requirements of religion and life.  We wake in the morning to read a chapter of scripture together, say our prayers, shave, shower, dress, look pretty, and by that point we are racing out the door with our one auto world to be on time to two locations.  Sadly, the other half always runs late constantly and usually by the time I make it to work have lost any hope for maintaining the spirit that our reading and prayer is supposed to provide.  The single greatest blessing in my life to come will be the day when we have separate vehicles.  I know I am off on a tangent, but I know of only one thing that upsets me really, one thing that pushes me towards what I believe is anger, one thing that makes me forget my religion and want to be unkind, and that is tardiness.  I think that is why I married Amanda.  I have come to appreciate more fully the need for promptness, preparedness, and arriving early.  Many says it teaches us patience.  I find my patience wearing thin more and more when I know there is very little or no valid reason for being late other than somebody procrastinated getting ready.  I think nearly daily about President Kimball’s comments, “One of the most serious human defects in all ages is procrastination, an unwillingness to accept personal responsibilities now.”
The bulk of the day is found at work.  Then there is the time to go home.  Evenings are usually not just our own though.  Amanda does have much of her evenings home, but being in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency pulls me often to different locations.  Every evening is usually taken by the little required activities of eating, preparing for bed, reading and responding to mail (email too), writing bills, and planning for the next day or something else.  It just seems like there isn’t enough time in the day for what needs to be done.
It seems if I were to spend more of my time doing what I wanted then I would get more done.  I would certainly know more and be learning more.  That is not to say I don’t learn from those I help.  I saw a map of the human genome this morning.  How is that for interesting?  I witnessed two other ways in which I would certainly never design a home.  I learned a few more details about Brother Pyron’s life and about a shooting at a school in Grundy, Virginia.  I met a man who moved into the ward from Mobile, Alabama with his wife for a residency.  Really, while it is all interesting, and applicable lessons are available in my own life I yearn to be learning something more.  Perhaps it is the fact this is all too close to home.  It is another life of the same life I am living.  Perhaps I yearn to be learning and living in the life of another time and another person.  I just think I really want to be learning something more than the activities and daily lives.
There is some rambling of thoughts here.  Part of the constant debate I feel.  Really, history and everything we know is because of the life of someone else.  I love and enjoy learning of those around me but perhaps want to connect with something outside my culture or time.  This morning I read of Nephi and really felt like I understood his sentiments when he wrote, “Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord-  Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren.  But behold, I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow because of this the wickedness of my brethren.”
Often the thought crosses the mind, “if I could have lived in the days of Brigham, I would have more time to follow more personal pursuits” or something along those lines.  “If I could have been raised in France to have less of a workweek so as to pursue other intellectual activities.”  There are many times I think how much I would have loved growing up in the Rome and going to watch the Senate and learning of far away places.  I wish I could have worked on a ship where I would have plenty of reading time as I traveled the world and met people all over the globe.  I think how fascinating it would be to dive into the archives of Rome, London, Moscow, Baghdad (what is left), and Paris.
Then it dawns on me how much more information we have available to us in our day and I am glad I was not confined to a bookless world, or a carless world, or a electricityless world, and on.  There is so much available to me and I certainly believe I seek out and gain much as it is in everyday life.  But there is so much more!  It is funny at times what dawns on me as a miracle.  When I place a dozen letters in the mail and am dazzled to think they will arrive all over this country the day after tomorrow.  I wonder often how much fun it would be to host Thomas Jefferson, Brigham Young, Constantine, or other individuals for a day.  Sometimes I sit in a room and look around at what would not have been present even 50 years ago.  What questions would Brother Jefferson ask upon appearing in my living room about what was not present in his day?  How would I answer his questions?  How would I walk him through the 181 years since his death to arrive at a particular object sitting in the room?  What would he think?  Would he be astounded?  Would he comment, “Who would have thought” or “That makes sense, why didn’t we come that that?”  What would he see in my life as useless or meaningless?  I hope that we have maintained a lifestyle that is for the most part Spartan.  Just the basics for what we need in our earthly journey.  Truly, our lives are surrounded by objects that are miracles in their history and they are every day.
I hope I am showing to some degree what there is to know and learn.  The history of places, the history of possessions, the history of people, the progression of societies, and much, much more.  Perhaps I have a disconnect in the run of the mill people to those few who seem to alter the future of societies and civilizations.  Not that they are greater, or run of the mill is lesser, but that I have enough experience with the every day that I want to get beyond it all.  So many conversations, so many thoughts, so many activities just seem to be in place in order to bide the time and endure.  I seek out the activities and people who are not just enduring life, but trying to do something with it.
That really takes us to the next part of the struggle.  I do believe I have learned quite a bit and come to an understanding of many things which are not common knowledge.  But what am I to do with it.  Knowledge is very lonely stuff.  Some people it seems to puff up and make them become showoffs.  Nobody likes a showoff and it undermines what it is they really know.  Generally, many people don’t seem to care about the details of life.  How do you maintain the relevance of life when you live in more and more in a world that doesn’t exist to other people?  I believe I have come to understand and know a few things about the interactions and play of the US Senate from about 1900 to about the 1950’s.  Who in the world will I ever have a discussion with about that?  Very few people indeed!  Who will I talk to about England and what readings I have been doing?  Who will I chat with about Manchester and the mission?  Who will I talk to about Idaho history here?  How many Idahoan’s can I talk to about Idaho history?
It really is amazing how much the church plays a role in all this.  With all the separation and divisions knowledge provides, especially the more as a society we do learn, the gospel provides an amazing link to others.  It links us and connects us on the most basic and fundamental level.  Then we can build from there.
Then we come back to the needs of others.  It seems to me we can’t really pursue our wants until we have met the needs of others.  I suppose children and a larger family would compound this question many times.  I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there.
I think often of the comment about President Kimball at his funeral.  How his life was like an old shoe, worn out in the service of others.  Did he spend much time pursuing his own wants.  I am sure glad reading the scriptures and serving in the church are commandments.  That takes them from the realm of needs and wants to must do.
There really doesn’t seem to be an answer before me.  I guess we all need to answer it for ourselves.

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