Monday, September 29, 2008

Ideals are like stars...

Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny. -Carl Schurtz

I came out to my bishop back toward the beginning of summer. I talked with him two weeks later and then never went back. I felt so gross talking with him about how I'm attracted to dudes. Out of the blue, he called and asked if I would meet with we did, last Sunday. I was scared to death, but I figured: "He set up the meeting, I'll let him have charge and see what he wants." We chatted in general about life and such for a little and then he asked; "So, how are...other things going?" (I think that he's as uncomfortable as I am). I told him that this has been probably the hardest summer of my life, maybe matched by a summer or two from the worst of my teenage years. I told him about smoking and drinking...and that I've quit that (I have). I told him that at this point, I wish I hadn't ever even gone to that meeting where I came out and confronted this; but, I acknowledged that life goes on and I told him that I knew my feelings would change somehow.

The other night, I talked with Hillary for about 90 minutes. We had a good talk, but when we ended it, I was troubled cause I couldn't see how things were going to get better. So, I've been thinking about it. I think I've forgotten that some problems don't get fixed, some challenges can't be vanquished, and some trials are life-long. So, what's left to say but "get over it!"

Today, I was thinking about the things that I have that I can be happy about. Dang, there's a lot. I've got some of the best friends, roommates, cousins, sisters and parents that a person could imagine. So what if I'm gay and can't seem to change it. I remember when I was working with others that were experiencing trials and challanges, I would say to them that they needed to focus on things that they both wanted to change and could change...or cause to change. Worrying about anything else was not only futile and wasteful, but harmful and destructive. Well, it's plain to see that I need someone to share that very principle with me. I've been concerning myself so strongly with things I can't change that I haven't even had safe control over things I could influence or change for the better.
After thinking about the good fortune I experience in life, I thought about some of my most cherished memories, including touring the museums in Washington, DC, with Hill(ary). In one museum of art, there were tons of quotes on the walls accompanying masterful paintings. One of the quotes was from Carl Schurz: "Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny." I think I've been following my feet - or at least looking down all the time while saying that I'm trying to follow the stars. Yeah, doesn't work. I think he means that we've got to stay focused on the things that we do want and can accomplish and not let ourselves be distracted or turned from our path by other seemingly valid concerns - concerns that we might be able to affect, but that would prove to be less important than the grand plans and ideals that we chase and could otherwise be accomplishing if we would but stay focused. So, I'll spend the next while working on understanding how best to stay focused on the stars and be guided by ideals. Of course, it'll be a process; but perhaps, it'll be the reminder that I need to recall to me the way of being I once had - the one that brings joy and fullness to work and relationships, and love and life.

Ok, I know that sounds kinda corny, but I really mean it. There is a way of being, a song that your heart can sing, a presence that you can develop; whatever you call it, when you are this way, the people and places and events in life are all good and right. They didn't change, you did. It only ever results from or is the sum consequence of the fine choices that you make every day inside yourself that nobody knows about. I say this mostly to myself, because I forget it too easily. The way that you are inside - your way of being - is not something that you get to choose directly; rather, it is a sum of the choices you make in your thoughts and heart throughout the days. This presence of yours is ever-changing, formed by who you are in the places where nobody but you and God can see. I feel ashamed for being who I've been this last little while...kicking against the pricks. So...change doesn't happen in an instant. It requires time and effort. I've already started towards it; now, I need to continue and soon, I'll start to see as I was able to see some time ago. There'll be more light, more purpose, and more why's to work every day and follow the ideals that guide.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back at it

When I was a sophomore in college, I became really angered and isolated because I didn't know what I was doing... everything was pointless and nothing was going anywhere. So, I dropped out of school and really planned never to return. I took a job and spent two years working in Arizona with youth who were in serious trouble tied to drugs, the law, or other defiant or depressed behavior. I bought a house, had a good salary, and LOVED the friends that I had and the way that I felt about life. I was being great and my focus was on helping others, faith and God, and progressing in life. My plan was to stay there for a decade or so and see where my life and a family took me. After one of the LDS general conferences - the priesthood session in particular - something happened that caused me to unquestionably know that I had to go back to school, get my degree in psychology, and then continue to work with adolescents who were in trouble. It was incredibly hard and scary, but I applied to return to BYU, sold all that I had, bought a car and left behind the best life I had ever known. I moved to UT for the same student life that had brought me to depression two years previous and I was seriously wondering "why?"

Every time I had ever changed stations in life, it was because of the same feeling inside me that was so clear in directing where to go and what I was to do there. As long as I followed it, I knew that I was where I was supposed to be and doing what I was supposed to be doing. When I left Arizona, I knew where I was supposed to go - UT, and I knew what I was supposed to do - go to school, but I had no idea why. For two years in AZ, I had been engaged in as good a cause and effective a cause as that when I was a missionary. Why was I supposed to move back to UT where I had crashed in stress, anxiety, and trouble? In April of this year, I went to the Mattis meeting (a supportive kind of evening for gay or lesbian LDS members). I finally started to deal with my homosexual feelings. All the sudden, I knew that this was the reason I was supposed to move to UT. I had to deal with it. Now, after all the events of the last five months, I'm asking, "What was He thinking?!@#?"
I don't know what I'm doing. School and work offer some direction or at least they offer to occupy my time. I still know that I'm going to finish psychology, get my license, and help young people; but, aside from those outward things, I have no idea where I am or where I'm going or how to have the heart and ability to do what I feel I'm supposed to...inside. Like Cadence said, I feel completely empty, pointless, and lifeless. Why? I think it's because of the way that I've withdrawn my emotions from day to day life. I think it's because I'm not truly engaged and invested in spiritual progression. And I think it's because of the the ways I've allowed myself to stray or walk away from how or who I know I should be.

I don't know. It's like I know where I should be when all is said and done, but I don't see the way to get there and I'm only facing that direction when I stop, turn, and look that way thinking, "Look, that's the final destination." I hope that this lost feeling will pass. Maybe it's a temporary transient feeling. Probably, it's the case that I have to work hard to start feeling found again. Definitely, there are some things that can never and should never change - including God and his nature, the truth and reality of faith, and one's history and origin; and on the other hand, there are other things that are meant to change - a man's character, desires, nature, abilities, and future. Time and work. That's what can change things. Both necessary and costly; but some things are worth eternity. If only I could really feel this all the time. Thanks to the Creator for family, friends, and their and His love...and thanks to them. Here's to letting those you love and can't do without know it.