A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, August 27, 2012

How Far We've Come

Well, depending on how much free time I have in the coming days, I might blog about the Republican National Convention, but for now, here's one of my favorite songs by my favorite high school band (what can I say?  I remain loyal to my high school loves).

Monday, August 20, 2012

And They Shall Run...

Have you ever seen the movie "Dinner for Schmucks"?  There is a part in the movie where Steve Carrell's character (Barry) unknowingly truncates a quote from the song "Imagine" by John Lennon.

Barry: In the words of John Lennon, "you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not."
Tim: ...the only one.
Barry: The only what?
Tim: No, that's the lyric: "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."
Barry: Oh, OK Tim.

I thought (and still think) that this quote is hilarious.  "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not."  

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the promise contained in Doctrine & Covenants 89:20, "And they shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint."  This promise is given in relation to the Word of Wisdom (aka the Mormon Law of Health - no tea/coffee/tobacco, eat your veggies, eat meat sparingly).  The reason I've been thinking about this is that lately I have felt like this:

Running.  Running all the time but not getting anywhere I want to be.  In other  words, I'm getting in the running but still feeling weary.  Why isn't this promise coming true for me (besides the fact that I could be better at the eating veggies and little meat part of the word of wisdom)?  Well, I think it's connected to another verse about running, found in the Book of Mormon.  King Benjamin teaches in Mosiah 4:27: "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."  So we can only be blessed with a weary-free life if we are not trying to run faster than we have strength to run.  This probably goes back to my genetic inability to say "no" to things.  You might say that "I'm Just a Girl Who Cain't Say No."

So maybe I just need to learn to say "no" to things when I already have a lot on my plate and am feeling overwhelmed.  This doesn't seem very likely, but it has to be better than the weariness that has seeped into my bones.  I just don't know what to give up on!  I need to remember that the Word of Wisdom says that we need to both run AND walk.  Sometimes we need to take life slow even if there are many many good things we could be running around doing.

After re-reading this post, I am also reminded of what of the most unpleasant aspects of my personality - I have a tendency to wallow in my problems.  If I feel weary and over-run, it is my own fault.  

It reminds me of a scene in "The Grapes of Wrath" where Tom Joad meets a man with only one eye.  The man is complaining about his status in life and wallowing in his own self-created misery because he hates his life.  Tom responds: "Now look-a-here, fella.  You got that eye wide open.  An' ya dirty, ya stink.  Ya' just askin' for it.  Ya like it.  Lets ya feel sorry for yaself.  'Course ya  can't get no woman with that empty eye flappin' aroun'.  Put sompin over it an' wash ya face...."

So, that's me: a wallower.  Someone who enjoys holding on to problems of my own making.  I know, it's lazy and selfish, but I guess it's just a night where I'm exhausted and plumb wore out.  It's not attractive...but I'm too tired to come up with a different post.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Simple vs. Easy

Recently, one of my co-workers chose this book for our book club book:

If you can't read the title, it is: "This is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike."

As you might (or might not) guess from the title, the book is a self-help book which makes fun of self-help books while at the same time offering some good advice.  Fair warning before you take up this book: if you have a problem with swearing or really blunt advice, this book is not for you.

One thing that stuck out to me from reading it (I truly enjoyed it!) was a quote by Mr. Burroughs, the author: "It's simple, but it's not easy."  He used this as example of how a principle or piece of advice can be simply expressed but devilishly difficult to follow.  How true that is.  Faith is a simple principle, but it's not easy to believe.

Still, if all else fails, remember this:

And if you don't get that, you really should read Harry Potter.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What Romney's VP Pick Says About Him

It's probably pretty clear from the title of this blog that Governor Romney didn't have much chance of winning me over with his pick of Vice Presidential candidate.  I think he would have had a shot at my vote if he had picked Hillary Clinton, but even that was a long shot.  Today it was announced that Romney is picking Paul Ryan as his VP candidate, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin.

Now, of course, everyone is going to have an opinion about the pick.  Is Ryan risky?  Does he know enough foreign policy?  Is he too young?  Too conservative?  Already the handicapping has started, but here's my two cents: it's quintessential Romney.  It's a calculated risk, but I think a smart one.  Romney seems to have analyzed the data, and realized that any candidate brings risks, but that the pros outweigh the cons.  Ryan brings a lot to the campaign - he comes from a midwestern swing state and brings a fresh energy and ideas.

One of the big things Ryan is known for is his budget plan.  While I may strongly disagree with it, I admire Ryan's budget because it actually presents ideas in concrete form.  Politicians (in both parties) seem afraid during this campaign to talk about trade-offs, but Ryan's budget presents ideas and shows the actual trade-offs we have to make to get what we want.  Ryan seems like a smart, capable guy - and he looks even better when compared to Palin (who, let's be honest - was a mistake).  I just hope he won't be flogged for actually presenting a plan.  Let's debate the merits of the plan without destroying the man who had the political courage to put it forth.

I think this pick says that Romney is data-driven who doesn't take crazy risks, but that Romney is drawn to people who are problem-solvers and "doers."  I'm currently watching Romney introduce Ryan, and it's interesting - one of the things he's saying is that Ryan doesn't demonize his opponents.  Imagine that!  Wouldn't it be wonderful if both parties could *actually* do that?

The media think that maybe this will be a chance for the campaigns to actually debate issues.  I remain pessimistic on that point, but wouldn't it be great if it were true?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Joy in the Journey

One of my favorite poems from my senior year English class is "Ithaca" by K.P. Kavafis.  Here it is, in case you haven't read it:


When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirit.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you.

Then pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure, with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy as many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit hosts of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge.

Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years;
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would never have taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not defrauded you.
With the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.

-K. P. Kavafis (C. P. Cavafy), translation by Rae Dalven

I like this poem because it reminds me to find joy in the journey.  I am a very destination-centric person.  If I have not arrived at my goal, I have failed.  Instead, I need to look more at what I have learned and enjoyed along the way.  Goals like Ithacas can be illusory and rob us of the many simple pleasures of travel through life.  Some days when I set sail on on the sea, I feel like repeating that old saying "O God, thy sea is so great,  and my boat is so small."  But I need to remember the beautiful vistas, the lovely people, and rich experiences that I gain by setting sail.

What do "Ithacas" mean to you?

Here's a funky random video of this poem read by Sean Connery himself (in a slightly different translation):