Retail Stores and Dating: A Metaphor for Millenials

Last Saturday, I went to the temple in the morning as part of our ward temple trip. Afterwards, we had Zupa’s catered to us. And, in a fateful move, I picked up a leftover one to bring home.

Dad had just gotten here, and came over to my digs, checked the place out, and we headed to UVU. Tanmarie and family were just finishing rock climbing, and we went with them to the bowling alley. I’m proud to say, I was top score, with 140.

Dad and I went up to American Fork, and I met Sis. Young, and we talked with her for a couple hours, before heading back to meet up with the Bach’s, who were just arriving, for dinner. Dinner was at Terra Mia. Dad and I split a pizza and their texas sandwich. The pizza was ok, but that sandwich —-> 10/10. The restaurant had a live two-piece jazz band playing as well. It was a fun place. We (Tanner, Nora, Dad, Matt Stone, and I,) proceeded back to their apt. and we played some games.

Sunday morning, I played host, welcoming the Bach’s, Dad, and Matt for burritos and apple pie. The perfect combo. We then went to Tanmarie’s church, and witnessed Nora’s blessing. She was a champ.

Dad had to leave after, for the long trip home, and I gifted my Zupa’s sandwich to him. With apparently aged mayonnaise. Alas, I knew not.

I went with the Bach’s to go to the dinner party being held, and for about 45 minutes, we took a nice tour of Provo, including the industrial area, before deciding we better get the real address, and we made it for a delicious soup and salad event, with ice cream+ cookies.

It was wonderful to have everybody visiting, and many memories were made.

Monday was the return to school.

The death of retail stores, with the rise of online markets has been heralded. The advantage of course, is that the middleman is cut out, and thus the markup passed to the consumer is less. Blind dates are like retail stores. So, deciding to employ the same technique and cut out the middleman, I signed up for Mutual (think mormon tinder) and went on two dates this week, with people from it.

The first, Rayann, is from Wyoming, served a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia, and is studying elementary education. Interestingly, she pointed out that we both have five brothers and one sister. Wednesday, coincidentally Valentine’s Day, we went to the BYU wind symphony, who enthralled us with various pieces all based around the theme from the hymn, “Praise God from whom All Blessings Flow.” We have a second date set for this coming Friday.

And on Saturday, I doubled with cousin Kaleb, and we went bowling. I set him up with someone from the ward, and we had a blast. With Kaleb there, it was much easier to be natural. My date, Megan, served a mission in Salvador, Brasil, and we know quite a few of the same people. As we arrived to BYU’s bowling alley, she disclosed that she had previously taken a bowling class, and at that time  was scoring in the 170’s. Luckily, that was a few years ago, and I upheld my honor, winning both games (albeit barely) with scores of 132, and 146. After dropping Megan and Shelby off, Kaleb came over and we had dinner and ice cream. It was nice to hear about his mission and catch up. We’ll be back at it again.

Of course, I also admit I don’t really shop online, and thus my Mutual saga has now come to an end. I appreciated the experience, but its not me, and I’ll stick to old-school.

Friday, I continued my temple streak, going to the Provo one. After, I walked to BYU to watch the movie “Black Orpheus” which is supposed to be  a Brazilian masterpiece. Having heard so many good things about it, I admittedly left very disappointed. The film was so sad, and even a little dark. My roommate Derik, picked me up, and we headed to UVU’s institute for a dance. A singles awareness dance. It reminded me of a giant stake dance. And also reminded me that I never liked stake dances.

 

Another highlight from Saturday was with Tanner. We went golfing at Eastbay. The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed getting out and playing. On the first hole, I dumped my three first shots into the lake. Finally, on my fourth try, I stayed on dry ground, and the rest of the round went much smoother.

Today in church I played the organ. It went well until the last verse of the last hymn, when I must have been in cruise control because I lost my place, and let the ward sing a capela for one bar, before joining back in to finish the song with them.

Our choir is singing “Cumorah’s Hill” for a fireside, and one piece contains the line,

How can we hope to see His face, when we never could see His hand?

I know that as we look for, and recognize the daily blessings and miracles in our lives, we will be better prepared to return to our Maker, and we will experience more joy in our journey to Him.

The Abundant Life

A Sunday letter! To keep to a reasonable length, I will address the happenings of this weekend, in my letter next week.

 

It began with the beating of the gong. A quiet stillness pervaded the room, making the room filled not with noise, but only with our thoughts.

“Take a moment to arrive, notice the silence, the room, the people around you. Notice the fullness of the moment. Try to do it with appreciation.”

Thus began my first official foray into oriental meditation. While always intrigued, I became enamored last semester with my world religions class, and have done it a few times on my own. I heard about an event happening in Provo, with a SLC group called “Lower Lights” a non-profit expanding to Provo. This was their first event, and it was led by Thomas McConkie, grandson of Bruce. He had left the church at 18 to travel the world, and after two walk-arounds the world, ended up in the Far East where he trained as a Buddhist monk for twenty years. Coming down from a mountain after seven days of silence, he knew, to quote Walt Whitman,

Now in a moment, I know what I’m for.”

“The goal tonight is not to know more, but to know more of yourself,” he continued. And then bells pealed. “Why are you here?” A smattering of answers were whispered in the musky room, musky not with smoke, or scent, but by character, and lit by christmas lights on the walls.

“Community”

“Togetherness”

“Sharing”

“A break from the grind”

And each abstract idea was answered by McConkie, “Gorgeous, beautiful, thank you.”

“Loss”

“wisdom”

“Searching for what feels right”

“Hope”

“Healing”

“Direction”

“progression”

I had arrived, running to make it on time, dressed in a neon jacket, and paying the suggested donation with presidential dollar coins, thinking I’d fit in better with my imagined crowd. But this wasn’t some group of young rebels. It was an eclectic mix of professionals and quiet middle-aged seekers.

“Breathe it in. If someone here is looking to recover from loss, we are all looking for loss, we all are here recovering from loss. Be a community! Create a collective experience…”

“Notice  your spirit, your presence, who you are….”

Our personal meditation continued, kneading out the lumps of our soul.

Time passed serenely, unnoticed. “Let’s have a one-word check in. How do you feel?” McConkie asked the assembly.

“Peace”

“Love”

“Sleepy”

“Nothing”

“Testimony of doing nothing”

“Contentment”

There was no wrong answer, no judging. We were a community.

We then proceeded with group activity, dividing the 80 or so people into groups of 4-5. “Enlightenment is intimacy with all things. Go around in a circle, and answer this question: Right now I’m aware of….” 

(And I encourage you to answer these questions as well.)

My group went around, and around, subcounsciously revealing our innermost thoughts to strangers, stopping only when the gong again sounded, and our time was up.

“The next question is: One thing you don’t know about me is….”

Again we shared ourselves.

“Last question: One way I hide in a relationship is….”

We are constantly negotiating our boundaries, deciding what to share with others and what to keep for ourselves. But for now, only space existed.

What did we feel at the end?

“Surprise”                          “Intrigue”                                          “Love”

“Closeness”                       “Deepening respect”                        “Softening”

“Tenderness”                    “Closeness”                                        “Divine Connection”

“Sameness”                       “Courage”                                          “abundance”

It was a memorable night, and I am glad I went. I made friends out of strangers, I examined my inner self, I saw new things, and I left refreshed.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, BYU had an unusual guest, Bill Martin, Prof. of Philosophy at DePaul University. He came to deliver a speech entitled, “Marxism and the Secular: from Plato to Badiou” I erroneously assumed he had studied communism to show its defects.  As part of Fidelio Society, I was invited to a luncheon the day of to meet and talk with him. I’ll take free lunch anytime, and it proved quite delicious. They even had Pao de Queijo which I haven’t had since leaving Brazil! Dr. Martin showed up, with long hair, a beard, and a jacket decorated with superhero pins. And nails painted. After making snap judgments, he then mentioned his wife, and the axiom to not judge the book by its cover came to mind. He discussed philosophical theories much beyond my present scope of knowledge, but having had done some prior research, I did engage him on the papers he wrote about chess and philosophy. And, again, lunch was good. And I shared it with a commie.

 I found this plaque in an elevator.

Four dates have occurred, with me going for ice cream with Danielle on Saturday and hosting a game night and inviting Aubrey on Sunday. The game night proved successful, having borrowed three board games from Tanner, and keeping the crowd to a total of 8. We had apple pie, conversed, and played games. It was a good night, and as host I graciously lost the games.

Tuesday, I again went out with Danielle, we went to a BYU Choir Concert. Danielle is from Alpine, Utah, studying consumer science education, and served a mission in Orlando, Florida, spanish speaking. Our list of hobbies is amazingly quite similar, and I’m still impressed by the fact she quilts regularly. However, it was mutually agreed by us both that their was simply no spark for either of us, after two dates, despite friends on both sides trying to help. Our favorite song sung was a new piece, written recently by Daniel McDavitt, and commissioned by BYU, entitled “Locus Iste”

The first two lines are “Locus Ister Deo factus ext,/ inaestimabile sacramentum.”

This place was made by God,

a priceless sacrament.

About the temple, the first part is in latin, but then switches to English, and was the result of a question, “the temple is_______,” posed to many LDS women. It was beautiful.

And on Friday night, I went out with Aubrey again. She actually asked me out, and we went to the BYU Philharmonic Symphony. And finally, there were no pieces composed by Russians. I went really wanting to hear “Also Sprach Zarathustra” and it exceeded expectations. Having been arranged somewhat last minute, we had no car, and Aubrey impressively opted to walk the two miles to get there, and the two miles to return. Thankfully the weather cooperated, and we had plenty of time to converse. She is from New Mexico, went to college at New Mexico State, studying Vocal Performance, before transferring to BYU-I, and majoring in History. She served a mission in Russia, and is currently working two jobs, applying to BYU’s master program.

Thursday I attended the second leg of the start-up competition. The five finalists for this event presented their companies, and I was quite impressed with the ideas, and the executions. And I was surprised by the hundreds of students who watched the event. Big things are happening here.

I left that, and headed to the Toqueville meeting, arriving late, to which a visiting professor would at the conclusion tell the group assembled, “I thought Ben Affleck was joining us for the night.” I mean, I’m missing the Hollywood paycheck, but I’ll take that. We  discussed the prison system in the US, and the idea of rehabilitation.

As always, its been busy. And life is good. I am thankful for the many opportunities that I have, and the learning experiences. However, as this weekend that has been filled with friends and families draws to a close, I am more certain than ever, of what Christ said

“I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Nothing fills like the gospel and the family. I am so thankful for both, and because of them, can say I have an abundant life. May you be so blessed as well, and help others learn of Him.

Looking back, prepares us to go forward

Honestly, this week was pretty boring.

First, to clarify dategate. I did not go on any dates last week. I did eat California dates daily. I will be sure to mention something about fiber next time to avoid any confusion. And that next time is now. I again did not go on any dates. Two weeks and running. For what its worth, I did hold a Bing Crosby Karaoke night for one on Saturday. That was a blast! Where the blue of the night meets the gold of the day……..

Sunday School is going great. We are up to 10 teachers and everything is humming along nicely. We will have teacher training council this Sunday, and are thinking about again expanding the curriculum, and adding another class. I know its not quite building a team, but it sort of is, and its been fun to do that. My counselors are awesome, and I’ve been impressed by the positive response of the members to help.

I again did more genealogy and visited the temple, this time Provo City Center.

I am enjoying more school classes. My favorites are an entrepreneurship class, and history of Brasil. I’ve learned lots in both, and my appreciation of the subjects has greatly increased. Talking about the effect of the sugar industry in colonial Brasil, I learned that in 1500 the average European did not eat any refined sugars. In 1750, that number was up to 4 pounds annually per person. And today, the average American consumes 120 pounds of sugar annually. 120 pounds. No society has rejected sugar.

And my entrepreneurship class, the professor, Ralph Little has been fantastic. He’s shared not only business lessons well, but has taught life lessons that change how I think. This week, after challenging us to change the way we converse, to listen more, and not bring everything back to ourselves, and to specifically engage some strangers in meaningful conversation, the question was asked what if we don’t like the person? If they are just a jerk? I admit I thought it was a fair question, but the professor responded that if we don’t like someone, it is because we don’t know them. We need to ask more questions, establish trust and get to know them. We should love everyone. And its true. Try it. Don’t talk at all about yourself, but let the other person talk, watch how much they open up, and learn from them. Show interest.

Finally, here is an unforgettable video shared at RootsTech 2015. “Looking back, prepares us to go forward.” Under 3 minutes, do yourself a favor and watch it.

http://www.lds.org/topics/family-history/familydiscoveryday/looking-back-prepares-us-to-go-forward?lang=eng&old=true