Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Conversation with My 15-Year-Old Self

Freshman year in high school (1972-1973)
Hi, Mike. It's me—I mean you.

Excuse me?

I'm you, 40 years later. I remember you really well, but you don't know a thing about me. But that's understandable.

Right, look, um...

Just bear with me. I have something important to tell you.

Okay. I'll give you five minutes, but...

Everything turns out.

Everything what?

Everything in your life. You get the girl, the best girl for you. And your dreams, most of them, come true. Not all of them, but the best ones do.

Which girl?

You haven't met her yet, but when you do, you'll know she's the one. She'll knock you out.

Scary.

I know it seems scary now, but it won't be. Being in love and happy is not scary or hard.

What about horses?

You will have horses until you're me.

That's great to know.

But that one dream of yours, you know, to go down the road as a professional cowboy...it ain't going to happen.

I didn't want to hear that. How are mom and dad?

They're gone now. They've been gone a long time. In fact, they'll both die much sooner than you think.

Why'd you have to tell me that?

Because you have time to appreciate them, time to spend with them. Enjoy them while you can because you'll miss them for most of your adult life. Ask them lots of questions.

[Silence.]

How's school?

I can't stand school. I can't wait to get out of high school.

That's because you can't choose what you want to study yet. Once you can do that, you'll love school. You'll go to college. You'll even graduate from college.

Crazy.

It's not crazy. I know you think you are a lousy student, but you're really not. I thought you'd be surprised. The more you put into school, the more you'll get back. You'll start to do better when you are a senior.

I could do better.

Why didn't you try out for football this year?

I dunno. 'Cause I was scared to?

Yes, you were scared. And you let your fear talk you out of a great experience. In fact, you'll regret that decision for the rest of your life.

Oh, great. Why don't you rub it in?

Because if I don't rub it in, who will? You can also be a better friend, and more respectful of your parents. And more outgoing.

I am nice enough.

You are too selfish and self-centered. You need to work on that.

Okay.

I am very confident in you. I know what you are capable of now, more than you have ever thought. But you are going to make lots of mistakes and go through some very humbling experiences to get there. When you are humble is when you make progress. When you are not, you'll be frustrated and unhappy.

I am pretty unhappy most of the time, I admit.  I feel like only part of me.

A light will break forth in your life in three years, a glorious light. It will guide and bless you. You will learn what real happiness is. And peace.


I don't get that, but it sounds like a good thing.

It will be a great thing, the greatest thing you will ever have in your life. Can I give you some advice?

I won't tell you no.

On the ranch (1973)
Listen. Listen hard. Be humble. Apologize without being overly apologetic. Look at yourself in the mirror, and be willing to change. Forgive. Be respectful and kind to everyone. Be patient with people. Don't give up. Fight for your dreams. Look for the Light and follow it.

I'll think about it.

Thank you. I want to tell you one more thing.

What's that?

I love you.

Oh come on.

I mean it. Loving and forgiving yourself is one of the hardest things for you to do. But it is one of the most important things for you to do. You will get better at it. 

Okay.

Thanks for talking to me. See you in a few decades. You are going to love your life, even though it is going to be hard. You'll have more ups than downs.

Thanks.

I have one P.S.

What?

Buy Apple stock. In 1980. Put every thing you can into it. You won't be sorry. Now good-bye. I love you.

Cut that out.

P.P.S. I know you can't stream video yet, but this would give you another perspective.


Monday, August 20, 2012

On My Way to Work

This is mostly for my grandkids, but you can follow along if you like.

I get on the bus every morning at about 6:40. Some people don't think it's fun to ride the bus, but I love it. 

One thing I like doing on the bus is checking my email and writing.
 
In Salt Lake, I get off the bus at the Social Hall Museum. It looks like a museum, but really it's a secret passage way.

When you get into the museum, you go down two stories by escalator.

Here is a picture of what the Social Hall looked like in 1853. The pioneers watched plays and went to dances there.


This is a tunnel I walk through. Instead of walking across the street, I walk under it.

I walk through the City Creek Food Court on my way to work. They have a play area there.

City Creek actually still runs through the City Creek Mall. Here is a waterfall. There are trout in this creek. I hope you can see them sometime.
 
This is the Church Administration building. This is where the prophets and apostles work. I walk by this building every day on my way to work.

This is the office I work in. It used to be a hotel. It was first opened in 1911.


Here are the gardens outside of my office.


This is my desk.
This is the lobby to my building.


This is the Salt Lake Temple very near where I work.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Day After Our Wedding

We celebrated our anniversary this week. We were married in 1979 in the Manti Temple, but we came back up that day to Salt Lake for a little reception in the afternoon at the home of some friends who lived in North Salt Lake.

We spent the first part of our honeymoon in Salt Lake at the Hotel Utah, a grand old hotel built in 1911. Our room was on the west side of the hotel, just across Main Street from the Salt Lake Temple.

On the day after our wedding, I remember looking out the window of our hotel room at the brides and grooms across the street, coming out of the temple. I have to admit I felt jealous of them. We had had our special day the day before, and I realized that special day would never come our way again. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

The Hotel Utah ceased operation in 1988 and now is an office building. The funny thing is, that's where I work now, five days a week, in a cubicle on the west side of the building. I can see the Salt Lake Temple, the temple that one of my wife's ancestors helped build, from a window not far from my desk.

On the day after our anniversary this week, I stood at a window in one of the conference rooms of that building, looking at the brides and grooms coming out of the Salt Lake Temple. The view was very similar to the one I had all those years ago. However, Main Street, the section between Temple Square and the office where I work, is gone, replaced by walkways and trees and flowers and a reflecting pool. It was the same view, almost, that I had 33 years ago, to the day. But I felt very different than I did then. Of course I did.

We were so young then. I was a gangly 21 year old. My new wife was almost 19. We were so excited and idealistic and happy. Now we have lived most of our lives together. We have had lots of ups and downs, but more ups than downs, I am glad to say.

We are still crazy in love. We have had some very difficult, nearly devastating trials, but we are still on our feet. We are still excited and idealistic, but with a dose of experience that helps us be a bit more practical than we were back then. We have a wonderful family, three beautiful daughters who are great friends, two outstanding sons in laws, and four energetic and loving grandsons, who all live within 10 miles of each other, as of this week.

Though we have less of this world's goods than we used to have, we have the very best things in life. I am grateful that God has given us our trials and not someone else's. Our children and grandchildren are the best! To be close to them all, to be involved in their lives, that's the thing that a happy life is made of.

But looking out that window this week, the day after our anniversary, has got me thinking hard. I am grateful for that once in a lifetime experience—our wedding day—but I am even more grateful for the life we have now.

Life is paved with experiences that we cannot predict, but they will all, the good and bad, bring us to joy, if we will let them do the sanctifying work they were meant to do.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Living in the Past (Part 3)

This is the third post in a series about my little problem of living in the past. (Here are part 1 and part 2.)

Lately I've been thinking about the summer of 1973. I've been thinking about it a little too much. So much so, it is like I can, at least for a few minutes, go back in a time machine. I can feel the heat of the summer sun, hear the clank of the irrigation pipe locking together, touch the tops of the timothy grass, tall and green.

I spent a lot of time that summer working on a friend's cattle ranch, making $1.00 an hour. I was a young teenager, not able to drive on the street—though I knew how to drive because my father taught me to drive off road when I was 12.

There was a little country store not far from my friend's ranch. It was a tiny, one room store. A true mom-and-pop operation. A nice, gray haired couple ran it. The store was a sort of tannish peach color. The gravel parking lot could handle about five cars. Or tractors.

We used to drive the Ford 8N tractor down to the store. I was legal to drive that on the road, as long as it had a reflective triangle. It was fun to drive down the road, knowing that the deputy sheriff would just wave as he passed by. And I would buy trashy food—chips and cookies and soda and ice cream bars—and enjoy every ounce of it with no regrets. My little body could handle it then. I say little because I hadn't gotten my full adult height yet. I was slow growing up.

Anyway, I know I am idealizing that past. That is a little trap I fall into. Making the past out as if it were paradise. In a way it was, but not completely.

I remember coming home one night that summer and opening the newspaper. I read a few column inches about the murder of a girl that I happened to know. She was a few years younger than I was. It was a shock. It was a gruesome crime. I won't harrow you up with the details of it. It was one of those moments when you start to grow up, when your little microcosm is broken open by a truth too hard to forget, too real to ignore.

So as ideal as I may think the summer of 1973 was, it was not ideal. It was beautifully happy and blissful and wonderfully sad and heart-breaking, just like now, just like today.

The past is the foundation of my life today, but it is not my life. The future is on the horizon, and as beautiful or terrifying as that horizon appears from a distance, it is not my life. Now is my life. This moment. This wonderful, amazing, gracious, inexplicable moment. It is all I have. It is all you have.

This song, a music video by Five for Fighting, is about the past and future. It usually chokes me up. I can't really explain why. But here it is. See if you can handle it better than I can.

As always, thanks for reading.