Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pearls of Wisdom

Cuz I'd rather blog than do my homework.

This was a handout I received in my grammar class. Stick with me--it's not about grammar. It's pretty profound. This is what I really came to college for.

"Pearls of Wisdom" from My Grandfather's Blessings by Rachel Naomi Kemen, M.D.
(Riverhead Books, 2000)

Some of the oldest and most delightful written words in the English language are the collective nouns dating from medieval times used to describe groups of birds and beasts. Many of these go back five hundred years or more, and lists of them appeared as early as 1440... These words frequently offer an insight into the nature of the animals they describe. Sometimes this is factual and sometimes poetic. Occasionally it is profound: a pride of lions, a party of jays, an ostentation of peacocks, an exultation of larks, a gaggle of geese, a charm of finches... and a parliament of owls are some examples. Over time, these sorts of words have been extended to other things as well. One of my favorites is pearls of wisdom.

An oyster is soft, tender, and vulnerable. Without the sanctuary of its shell it could not survive. But oysters must open their shells in order to "breathe" water. Sometimes while an oyster is breathing, a grain of sand will enter its shell and become a part of its life from then on.

Such grains of sand cause pain, but an oyster does not alter its soft nature because of this. It does not become hard and leathery in order not to feel. It continues to entrust itself to the ocean, to open and breathe in order to live. But it does respond. Slowly and patiently, the oyster wraps the grain of sand in thin translucent layers until, over time, it has created something of great value in the place where it was most vulnerable to its pain. A pearl might be thought of as an oyster's response to its suffering. Not every oyster can do this. Oysters that do are far more valuable to people than oysters that do not.

Sand is a way of life for an oyster. If you are soft and tender and must live on the sandy floor of the ocean, making pearls becomes a necessity if you are to live well.

Disappointment and loss are a part of every life. Many times we can put such things behind us and get on with the rest of our lives. But not everything is amenable to this approach. Some things are too big or too deep to do this, and we would have to leave important parts of ourselves behind if we treated them in this way. These are the places where wisdom begins to grow in us. It begins with the suffering that we do not avoid or rationalize or put behind us. It starts with the realization that our loss, whatever it is, has become a part of us and has altered our lives so profoundly that we cannot go back to the way it was before.

Something in us can transform such suffering into wisdom. The process of turning pain into wisdom often looks like a sorting process. First, we experience everything. Then one by one we let things go, the anger, the blame, the sense of injustice, and finally, even the pain itself, until all we have left is a deeper sense of the value of life and a greater capacity to live it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

10 remotely interesting things that happened to me last semester

Okay.. there are more than ten. It's fine.

1. This cutie came home from his mission

2. He visited me

3. BFF Thanksgiving

4. I got hit by a car

5. I visited him

6. I visited him again/ Real Thanksgiving with his wonderful family (I didn't get any pics with the fam cuz... I'm the worst. Hopefully you are satisfied with pics of our super romantic sunrise watching hot chocolate date)

7. I got the best grades I've gotten since Freshman year of college
8. Roommate Christmas Party

9. I went to Colorado to see my people! (But I lost all my pictures because Tyler's brother, Kyle, tried to jailbreak my phone and something went wrong, and it lost all the new stuff)
10. And get my hair done (Also no pictures because I just don't take selfies like I used to)
11. I visited him again to celebrate New Years/our 3 month anniversary

His family was having family photos taken since it would be one of their last chances before Kyle left for two years on his mission. I tagged along, and his sweet mom had Tyler and me get a couple shots taken. That's great, cause now we don't have to pay for engagements! Ha, I'm kidding.

12. We drove back to Provo together with Kyle in tow to be there for...
13. Merrilyn's homecoming!

Last semester was filled with a lot of school work and group projects, frustrations at teachers and a long distance relationship, and I rarely found myself with enough motivation to work out, but it had its moments. And lots of life lessons along the way. As always, I feel compelled to share one with you.

Recently I feel like I've witnessed and been involved in a lot of arguments and been surrounded by more contention than I would like. I hate fighting and I hate having bad feelings toward people and I hate feeling like someone has bad feelings toward me. I usually do my best to avoid and/or resolve anything of that variety that comes my way. Sometimes they are avoidable; sometimes they're not. And although unpleasant, I have definitely learned a very important lesson in the last couple weeks.

The lesson I learned is this:
Not everyone is the same as me.

You would think I would have figured that out by, like, middle school, but apparently it is a concept I have yet to fully grasp.

Not everyone has the same value system as I do. Not everyone cares about the same things, and not everyone treats the things they care about the way I would treat things I care about. Because of that, I can't hold anyone else to the same standard that I hold myself.

I am learning some hard lessons in making judgments about people, and how that affects the way I treat them. I am learning just what a narrow perspective I truly have of the world and of people. I can only know what I can see, but there is so much more information influencing the decisions other people make than I am capable of understanding or even knowing.

It is a lesson I seem to have to relearn over and over again, not to make judgments about the decisions of others. It is not my job, or my place. My job is to treat people with kindness unconditionally regardless of how I perceive their physical appearance, social standing, their financial situation, their IQ, or their actions, EVEN if those actions have hurt me in some way. It's hard not to think of the world and those around you only in terms of what you can see and what you know, and I'm tying to break that habit.

Aside from that, life is good, and I promise to update more soon.