Sunday, May 22, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mad Lib

Another Mad Lib, as long as we're on a run of posting.  This one was penned on the way home from a temple trip with all the kids, we thought it had some particularly fine turns of phrase:



Fitzmonster Theaters offers a slimy program of foreign signs never before seen in American rips. The first film to be shown will be Henry and the Oatmeal. This is the wiry love story of a man and his whoopee cushion. It will be shown mostly until the end of the paper.


Appearing in our clueless theater for the next three pants is Dad, that very stingy star of stage, screen, and spark. He will be appearing with our muffled repertory company in nightly performances of William Shakespeare's forceful comedy, A Midsummer Night's Toot. Tickets can be purchased now at the ozone office by telephone, fax, or prickly card.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Unprofitable Servants

I think of myself as an entropy* fighter.  If I had to put an occupation down on paper, that's how it would read: K., Head Entropy Fighter, The Double Stitch.  The nature of my job is that you never really quite get ahead, you just manage to not fall too far behind, and that's if you're exceptionally diligent and lucky.

So when I read the phrase "unprofitable servant" in the scriptures, I just sigh.  (Luke 17 can be particularly disheartening, I read it recently in my personal study.)  I can fight entropy in so many ways -- picking up dirty socks, praying, bearing miraculous babies who weren't part of this world until now, weeding a garden, writing poetry -- whatever it is, my attempts to reintroduce order work only temporarily, or partially, and entropy wins in the end.

So, I've been thinking a lot about this lately.  I've been biting off a few too many things this year and so have also had the ideals of sustainability and simplicity making slow circles in my conscious thoughts.  Those ideas overlap with the unprofitability issues in hard ways.  What can I cut out of my life to simplify it, to make it possible to be more sustainable and productive in the important things?  I've been stressed to the point of tears more often than usual in 2011, not from any specific crises but simply because I can't find any more ways or places to stretch my time.  And yet at the same time, my desires for knowledge, skills and experiences grow beyond all reasonable resources to pursue them.

How can I seek after simplicity and a sustainable lifestyle, all the while being aware of the vast forces of entropy pushing on me?  (OK, I  admit that mostly the forces I deal with on a daily basis are medium-sized ones named Ian, Sage, Lucy, and Nora.  But in total they can feel rather vast.)  How can I reconcile the scriptural descriptions of my unprofitability from the Lord's perspective with the feeling that I'm working at my max?  

Ideas, anyone?  I'm sure that one direction I need to go in this is lowering my standards, allowing myself to let go, make mistakes, all that.  I probably need to be more humble, and I definitely need to ask for help much more often.  But I don't know how to actually put those concepts into action.  

Luckily for me, I have an amazing husband who encourages me (in vain, of course) to spoil myself and who is a wonderful, loving partner through all my grand ups and downs.  And above all, more than luckily but blessedly, I have the greatest counter-entropy weapon of them all: Christ the Savior.  As much as I've mourned over the years the way time and the world will erase all traces of my faithful efforts, I know that somehow, unimaginably and miraculously, the mission of the Redeemer was to reverse all that decay and loss.  In him, all my best days are restored, and all my unprofitability is forgiven and overcome.  When he said that he had overcome the world, who knew that in a way that included all the ice cream melting in the trunk, all the beads and legos getting unsorted, all the stars using up their fuel and dying away?  Most of all, it means he takes my small offering and makes it glorious.  Dirty dishes and all.

*If any of you are in doubt as to what physical principle I'm referring to, just think of entropy as the inability to put the toothpaste back in the tube after you've squeezed too much out.  Who hasn't spent a few precious moments trying that one?  The scientific principle seems to be usually discussed in context of thermodynamics, but basically as I understand it any ordered state in the whole universe tends towards a disordered one unless you act on it with some other energy, of which some is necessarily wasted and inefficient and so really the total disorder is still slightly greater than the order that was created.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Where We Came From

(That's my mother, first girl on the left, shortly before the family moved from Taiwan to Brazil)

Pictures are invaluable, probably because our own brains don't make them. Storage takes space, even in human memory, and so our efficient brains save only fragments. Thus, every time we "remember" something, we are really piecing together the fragments into a completely new picture, each time filling in the blanks with whatever information and inferences seem most likely at that moment. So it is that, the older I get, the more unreliable my memories of my childhood.

I was raised by young parents. Logically, I know this. In my earliest memories, they must have been younger than I am now, but my mind tends to misremember them as older, filling in the early gaps of memory with more contemporary data. How wonderful, then, that someone had the foresight to take some pictures, so that I might have my memory refuted by reliable evidence that they were once young, their lives still ahead of them, the seeds of their greatness still growing within them.

(My mother and her father)

My sister Michelle recently found a trove of family pictures, each one a new discovery: Here is Dad, a tow-headed little boy in a hand-sewn Halloween costume. Here is Mom, a bright young woman full of Brazilian joie de vivre. Here they are together, newly married, each a complement to the other:

In this life our parents are ever ahead of us, never to be caught, and so we are denied the opportunity to fully know them as peers and contemporaries, courageously walking the labyrinth as we do. Mortality, lived in a single direction, obscures our true selves like a fog, making more poignant those hopeful words of Paul:

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13: 12)

In these old pictures, I see my parents and know them better than I did before. And look at her, my young mother! Isn't she beautiful?
(Me, Mom and my big brother Bob)