8.01.2008

All You Need

When I was 18, I knew everything. I was deep. I had perspective. I had experience. I knew the world, and the world knew me. And I wrote a short paper on a subject I felt perfectly qualified to address: LIFE. I won't reproduce all of it here; it's humbling how much your perspective, mindset, and writing style can change in seven years. But in this paper, I analogized life to a block tower. (Think JANGA, only more mature and somberly serious in a way that only adolescence can produce). Stylistic weaknesses aside, there is a small portion of the paper that I like to this day; a mantra that I try desperately to cling to: "When building our own tower of life, any slight miscalculation, any flaw in construction, and the tower will fall at the slightest breeze. And when it crashes, the only thing to hold onto--the only thing left--is the base: self, friends, family, and God." Another man I deeply respect spoke much more eloquently than ebv.18 on these things. I especially appreciate what he had to say of our one unfailing Foundation: "Cling to your faith. Hold on to your hope. "Pray always, and be believing." Indeed, as Paul wrote of Abraham, he "against [all] hope believed in hope" and "staggered not . . . through unbelief." He was "strong in faith" and was "fully persuaded that, what [God] had promised, he was able . . . to perform."

Even if you cannot always see that silver lining on your clouds, God can, for He is the very source of the light you seek. He does love you, and He knows your fears. He hears your prayers. He is your Heavenly Father, and surely He matches with His own the tears His children shed.

In spite of this counsel, I know some of you do truly feel at sea, in the most frightening sense of that term. Out in troubled waters, you may even now be crying with the poet:

It darkens. I have lost the ford. There is a change on all things made. The rocks have evil faces, Lord, And I am [sore] afraid.
No, it is not without a recognition of life's tempests but fully and directly because of them that I testify of God's love and the Savior's power to calm the storm. Always remember in that biblical story that He was out there on the water also, that He faced the worst of it right along with the newest and youngest and most fearful. Only one who has fought against those ominous waves is justified in telling us--as well as the sea--to "be still." Only one who has taken the full brunt of such adversity could ever be justified in telling us in such times to "be of good cheer." Such counsel is not a jaunty pep talk about the power of positive thinking, though positive thinking is much needed in the world. No, Christ knows better than all others that the trials of life can be very deep and we are not shallow people if we struggle with them."
--Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
Now that I'm 25, I realize that I know next to nothing, I haven't touched the surface of depth, and my perspective is narrow to a fault. Almost done with Law School, and I feel like a fresh-eyed Kindergartener, wondering how Mrs. Waterworth made those funny symbols on the chalkboard or played the chords on her guitar. Looking back, then, on the base of my 18-year-old tower, and inspecting it now, I wouldn't change it. Self, Friends, Family, God. Those are the things that really matter in life. But with a bit of perspective and some weightier experiences under my shoes, I see now that there is one link between the four corners of that base, the bedrock of it all: Ready? This won't blow you away.... Love. I think now, more than ever before, John Lennon had the right of it. That in the end, Love is All We Need. But what is LOVE? President Hinckley (dear man) called it "the very essence of life. It is the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. But it is not at the end of a rainbow; it is at the beginning, and from it springs the beauty that arches across the sky on a stormy day. It is the security for which children weep, the meat and drink of youth, the adhesive that binds marriage and the lubricant that prevents devastating friction in the home; it is the peace of old age, the sunlight of hope shining through death." Since my 18 year-old self already tried to tackle LIFE in a one-page thought piece, I'll try my hand at describing LOVE in a few lines. It is a soft whisper against the storm. It is a piercing star upon the blackness. It is the beauty in the mundane. It is a cool kiss on a fevered brow. It is a cupped hand on a quivering chin. It is a hot tear on a reddened cheek. It is a belly laugh in the midst of sobs. It is a bear hug on a lonely night. It is a gaze into another's soul. It is the water in the stream, and the flowers floating there. It is a friend in the sea of strangers. It is the glue and rock and root of us. It is a story for a storyless time. It is a quick smile after a playful wink. It is the greatest single achievement we have. And it is worth everything.

4 comments:

Mel said...

I love (get it??) this. And I am with ya- I totally thought I had IT all figured out at 18. Then, reality comes crashing in. Fun, fun, fun.

Christin said...

Beautiful Erbear

The Wallace Family said...

Hi Boyd -

This is kind of a strange request. I was doing a search trying to find some contact information for Kiyoshi and Beth Miki in Manaus and one of the results was your blog (for the picture you had of your barbeque there last summer). I actually baptized Beth and Kiyoshi back in 1997, but I have lost contact with them (used to trade emails, but lost their email address). Do you happen to have any contact information for them?

Also, how are they doing? Is Kiyoshi still active? What about their kids? Any info would be great. You can email me at darenwallace@gmail.com.

Daren Wallace

Heidi said...

Eric, you should be happy to know that when I logged in to my gmail today, your blog came up on the right hand side as a top "recommended feed" from google. I guess it is because of all that good stuff you have to say.