Sunday, April 21, 2013

Plenty of Things to Love

 (Pretty Please, the horse who just wanted a sandwich)

When I get bored at work, which is most of the time now, I think of topics for this blog. Usually, they are somewhere in the neighborhood of "How Did I End Up Here" or "When Can I Do Something Else" or "What Else Could I Do" or, if depression is starting to set in, "Can This Even Get Any Better".  I sat down fully intending to follow one of those threads, but the sun is shining outside and I'm home with my family and I just can't muster enough ennui right now.  What I really feel like writing is a list of things I love.  Here goes:

Kristin.  I honestly never expected anyone to make me so happy, or to understand me so well.  She is the secret ingredient that makes everything taste better.

Stolen Things.  One of the maxims I've taught the kids is that "Snitched food tastes better."  That's probably the only lesson they'll remember from me, but it's true.  Ice cream that you eat from the carton, hiding behind the fridge, is at least three times as good as ice cream someone served you in a bowl.  It's not just food, either.  Sleep ten minutes past the alarm is the best sleep of all, and kisses are better if someone's 10-year-old daughter catches you and your wife hiding in the broom closet when you're supposed to be cleaning the church.*

Dogwoods.  Have you seen them in bloom?  That's when you know Spring means business.

Rolling Hills.  Remember how you'd pass the time on long car rides, sticking your hand out the window and making it curve up and down in the wind?  That's kinda what hills do for me--add a little fun to the landscape.

Cognitive Psychology.  Why do people make the same mistakes over and over?  How do we navigate through randomness or uncertainty?  What makes us happy or disappointed, and why?  My intellectual curiosities have tended to be ahistorical, apolitical and personal, a field dominated for centuries by gloomy philosophers and crazed poets, but I'm coming around to the idea that empirical study is where the money's at, right at the intersection of psychology and behavioral economics.  I started with Stumbling On Happiness, then Nudge, then The Black Swan and now Thinking, Fast and Slow has got me hooked.  When we say "That's Life" or "That's human nature", what we're really talking about is how the world outside gets filtered through our brains.  I feel like we're finally starting to understand how that works.

Custard.  Also Pie.  Also Cakes and Cookies With Nuts and Stuff In Them.  When something is sweet and laden with carbs and has more than one texture when you bite it, that's how you know it's a good thing.

The Kids Growing Up.  They play together and draw for hours.  They're very free with their affection and quick to do good.  We're reaching a point where I can start to see how the kids are going to take the foundation we've given them and then grow up and out from it, into different and better people.  They inspire me.

Virginia.  Virginia is the Golden Mean, green valleys and blue mountains.  Snow in Winter, fireflies in Summer, bright colors in Spring and Fall.  Hilly, leafy, farms full of horses and woods full of deer.  Somehow the light is brighter there, and the feelings richer.  When we go to Heaven, we will all see that it looks like Virginia, mid-May, just an hour before sunset.

The Temple.  More and more, my temperament could be described as restless or uneasy, but that's not how I feel in the temple.  When I'm there I feel full, and whole, and grateful.  Christ, in his candor, promised a troubling life, but coupled with a "peace that passeth all understanding."  He keeps that promise in the temple, his toehold in a lower world.

*This may or may not have happened yesterday morning. I confirm nothing and regret nothing.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beautiful Lucy

As long as we just posted Lucy's debut play, I'm going to post a little blurb I was asked to write about her for an activity this week. (It seems to be the month of "daughter letters" at church...) I was asked to describe her beauty, especially inner beauty:

Lucy is beautiful in a fierce kind of way -- loyalty and acceptance come easily to her. She gives hugs readily, shares with others easily, and wants life to be a big experience. Her energy and affection are often contagious, and so she spreads her beauty throughout the world around her. Her dad and I imagine that she was so anxious and excited to come to earth, that she can barely contain it now that she’s here. She thinks, imagines, and lives large. 

Beautiful Lucy.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lucy's Corner: Peter and the Magic Dog

After General Conference today, Lucy wrote a one-act play. There was a part for each of us, so after dinner we performed it to thunderous (imagined) applause. Here's the work in its entirety:

Peter and the magic dog

narrator;Young Peter wanted a dog.VERY MUCH!!!!
Peter;MOM!!!!!!!Can we get a dog?!
Mom;NO!!!! Thats the hunddreth time you,ve asked me!!!We need as much money as we can!!!!!!!
Narrator;As you can see,they argued.But one lucky day, Peter saw a dog.
Peter: WOW! A dog.
Narrator: The dog was a Greyhound. It followed Peter home.
Peter: Mom! I found a dog!
Mom: WHAT!!!!!!!!
Dog: I don't like the shouting woman. She's loud.
Narrator: The next day, Peter's Mom let Peter keep the dog He named her Nashta. Nashta showed extraordinary powers. Whatever she bit turned to gold, she had laser vision, and could transform into mammals. COOL! But one night...
Peter: What was that? It's Nashta growling! The house is being robbed!
Nashta: These men are bad! (Turns into a tiger).
Narrator: Nashta threw the burglers out the window and they never came back again!