Thursday, December 09, 2004

wrong answer

I'm a student. I have been for the past 19 years of my life, and consequently have taken a lot of tests over the years. And written down a lot of wrong answers. A lot. Trust me on this one. But there is one thing that I've never done. I have never ever ever, under any circumstnace, intentionally written down an incorrect answer. If I know that two plus two does not equal five, I don't write five. Because that, my friends, is what we call a bad idea. Now, I may not know what two plus two equals. But I know that what it doesn't equal. I may write down three, I may write down seven. Both wrong answers, but still a better answer than five. Because at least I tried, at least I made an attempt.

Now, this seems like a fairly simple concept. If you know an answer is wrong, don't write it down! Period. But if it's so simple, why is it that we allow ourselves to give the wrong answer, time and time again, in life. In matters that, frankly, are much more important to our well-being than what two plus two equals. Why do we, myself included, allow ourselves to repeatedly make the same mistakes? When we know perfectly well that they're wrong? Whether it be something as small as leaving the lights on when we leave the house, to cheating on a spouse or abusing somebody we supposedly love. We cannot allow ourselves to simply live with our vices. We cannot settle, and therefore allow those vices to settle, like the little bits of worm and dirt and nasiness that accumulate on the bottom of a bottle of cider. Because it's not just a drink that can be filtered out, but our soul. I'm not asking for perfection. None of us is perfect. We all make mistakes, and will continue to make them. We're bound to get some wrong answers along the way, but we also need to be trying to figure out the right one, putting forth the effort required to turn away from what we know is wrong.

Okay, so it may sound like I'm a bit worked up. And the truth is, I am. But I'm not angry, I'm not upset with the world. A few years ago, a child in a small village was discovered to be missing. After a week of searching the parents found their precious baby, healthy, unharmed, and well-fed. A mother bear had recently lost her cubs to a predator, and in her need to nurture and protect, she took in a hungry child. I cannot live in this world and not believe in its beauty. But I am a woman of convictions. I have beliefs that have become more than just baggage that I carry on my back to fill me up when I need sustenance, but have become an integral part of who I am, as critical to my identity as my heart, liver, or kidneys. And while I recognize the beauty that exists, I also recognize the wonder that could be displayed, more brilliant than any sunset. I see the world, and the people in it, for what they can be. And I'm in awe.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

'tis the season

The Christmas season is here again. Tis the season to be jolly, to let go of grudges, reunite ourselves with old friends, visit family, and dedicate ourselves to loving deeper than we have in the past. And, of course, show that love by giving gifts.

I love shopping for presents. The energy of Christmas shopping crowds, the excitement of finding the perfect gift for somebody. And the warm, fuzzy feeling that ensues from knowing that my gift has brightened somebody's day. Because, lets face it, I'm always cold. Always. So it's nice to have a little bit of warmth inside amidst the fury of winter snow and ice storms. Last year, I found the perfect gift for my sister: an afghan with a huge Texas flag on the front. Now, my sister can be a bit of a drama queen, so the joyous screams and cartwheels that followed made me feel even warmer and fuzzier than ever.

Sometimes, no matter how hard I concentrate, I just can't come up with the perfect gift. And that is so annoying. So annoying. OR, as recently happened to me, I think of the perfect gift, only to search online and find out that said perfect gift is no longer being sold. So I end up getting a generic fall-back. Which is much like saying "Hi, I know we've been friends for years, and I'm supposed to know you well enough to know what you like, but I don't. So I bought you these socks, because I felt obligated to get you something. And everybody could use a nice pair of socks, right?" So I spend a lot of money on this fall-back gift. Because, while it's the thought that counts, you really have to want to get somebody a present in order to bring yourself to buying insanely overpriced articles. And that's a nice thought. And therein enter much coveted warm-fuzzy feelings.

more rules

I am a religious person, and therefore have a lot of externally-imposed rules that I live, well, religiously. I don' t drink alcohol, coffee or tea, don' t chew tobacco or smoke. I don't do a lot of things, actually, but not simply because there are rules against it. But because I want to contribute to society, to make the world a better place and work to be a productive citizen. Because I want to make other people's lives better and make our world a little more beautiful. And these rules are in place to help me accomplish that.

Now, while I believe in following these rules, I do not believe that it following these rules necessarily means that we are accomplishing a lot of good. I am of little benefit to the world at large if I do nothing but sit in my house not drinking alcohol. Even sitting in my house not drinking alcohol and reading the Bible won't do a whole lot of good unless these actions are used as facilitators. Facilitators for good. For filling my time with something better, and allowing myself to understand how I can best contribute to society. Refraining from drinking alcohol allows me to have a clear mind, but unless I use that to find ways to help others and to make the world better for those that I love, my clear mind does me no good at all. Reading the Bible allows me to read about others who have blessed the world, and to understand how I can follow in that path and do my part to bless the world as well. Simply knowing a lot of Bible stories isn't enough.

Adam and Eve understood this principle. They were living in the garden. There was no death, no sin, they even walked and talked with God. Life was good. Very good. But they realized that, as great as things were for them, they were not benefiting mankind the best they could by staying in the garden. This was not the best way for them to show their love for their creator or for mankind. They were following a rule they were given, yes. But they were neglecting an overriding rule to multiply the earth and to allow others to progress. So they transgressed. They didn't sin, but rather broke a law in order to fulfill a greater purpose. They forsook something good for something better.

There is one rule that seems particularly misunderstood. The first commandment is to love God, and the second is to love our neighbor. Loving God comes first. But this does not mean that we can neglect friends, family and neighbors and seclude ourselves under the pretense that we are worshipping and showing our love to God. He, by nature, is unselfish, and therefore does not ask anything of us solely for His own benefit, but for the benefit of mankind. So by loving and understanding him, we become more enlightened. He enlightens us in ways that we can better love and serve our fellowman, ways that we can best contribute to the world at large. And by taking this knowledge and understanding and putting it into practice, we are showing our love for Him.

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. Mosiah 2:17

Yes, I believe in living by certain externally-imposed rules. But there's a purpose to them. They are meant to facilitate our progress and increase our ability to contribute to society. And these rules will occasionally be broken in order to accomplish greater goals. We've been commanded to obey our parents, and for the most part, it is beneficial for us. We can learn a lot from our parents. But if they tell us to kill our neighbor, I doubt we would feel justified in doing so. Rather, we would choose to transgress that commandment in order to fulfill a higher law. We're asked every day to choose between things good and great. And it's our job to choose the better. To use the rules we've been given to benefit mankind and to better show our love for others.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Hello, Anonymous

I received my very first blogger comment today. From Anonymous. (Thanks, Anonymous, and welcome to Pink Poodle Prints. I hope you've enjoyed your visit.) Although I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you quite yet. I guess I'm not clear on your question. However, if you could clarify what what exactly you want me to tell you about externally-imposed rules, I'd be happy to dedicate a post (yes, that's right, an entire post) to answering said question.

My blog counter also passed the 100 viewer mark. That means that 100 people have viewed my blog! I'm practically famous. (Or maybe it means that 3 people have viewed my blog 34 times each.)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

rules, rules, rules

I love rules. Love, love, love. They're the reason I'm so fascinated with grammar. Because in grammar, there are rules for everything. Lots of exceptions, admittedly, but still. Remember your subjects, verbs, prepositions, keep the nominative and objective cases straight, and you're set. No problem. Just know all the rules, and you can't go wrong.

Unfortunately, everything isn't as simple as grammar. There's no Official Rule Book for life. At least not one that I know of. So in the absence of an official guide, I make up my own rules. And trust me, I have rules for everything. If there are two cookies left on a plate, eat only half of one. One can only get out of bed at five-minute intervals. It's okay to get up at 7:00, 7:05, 7:10, etc. But if one happen to wake up at 7:12, one must wait until 7:15 to lift one's head from the pillow. I live these rules obsessively, much like my daily teeth and gum routine. Now, I may have just convinced you all that I am psycho-crazy-OCD girl, but I'm really not. Really. I'm just terrible at improvising (which is why I prefer writing over speaking any day), so it makes me feel good to know an appropriate action for every situation. And most of my rules are not as nit-picky as appropriate wake-up times, but are attempts at improving and building relationships. For example, send a card 4 days before a friend's birthday so that they will get the card on or before their birthday; if a good deed is done, thank the person responsible; if a favor is asked, do what you can to grant the request. And the list goes on.

Now, for the most part my rules are very helpful. The only problem is, when I have rules for everything, I start to think that I have the answers to everything. And I sometimes forget that my rules are not the Official Rule Book.