Thursday, August 29, 2013

Good Enough

This last week I was in a great Relief Society lesson.  At one point, the conversion of Saul/Paul was brought up, and some comments were made that really changed my was of looking at that story.  I think most people are familiar with the story of Paul in the New Testament, a guy intent on persecuting all Christians until one fateful day on the road to Damascus when the Savior appeared to him and he completely turned his life around.

So often when we think of Paul of the New Testament, all we see or think of is all of the scriptures he wrote, or the innumerable amount of people who joined the church because of him, or any other of the many miraculous things he accomplished.  We forget so easily who this man was before, his character and his life plans in the very instant the Savior decided to appear to him.  Paul himself talks of what he was in Acts 22, describing himself as persecuting  all Christians, throwing people in jail, beating them, and even consenting to the death of an Apostle.  He was actively fighting against Christ and His church.

And it was then, on his way to go persecute even more people, that the Savior came to Saul.  Saul probably even mentioned to the Savior something akin to "BTW, maybe you forgot, but I'm not a very good dude.  I've been doing a lot of mean things to your followers....did you want to reconsider this mercy that you're extending to me?  I am the least deserving of all".  I'm sure the Savior gave Saul/Paul a loving smile, and replied with something like:  "Oh Paul.  My Son.  You can't even possibly imagine how much I love you.  You know what?  You're not making the best choices you could be right now.  But that's all right.  I know you, and I know that you are better than that.  You can change your ways, you can have such a positive influence on so many people, you can do so much good with your life.  You can repent, and I will absolutely forgive you."

How often do we look at ourselves and think "I've messed up too much.  I'm not as good as so-and-so.  I make too many mistakes.  God cannot love me.  God would rather have other people help Him out in His work.  I shouldn't bother starting to be better now, I can't make up for the wrongs I have already done."  That is the exact opposite of what God is thinking!  We are a beloved son or daughter of God.  He knows us individually, all of us.  He knows our strengths, he know our weaknesses.  He knows where we have been, and he knows what we are capable of, even when we cannot even begin to comprehend it.  Look at the story of Alma in the Book of Mormon, where he and his friends were described as the vilest of sinners.  Now, I don't know about you, but that seems like a pretty bad place to be at.  And yet, that's exactly the state that these people were in when God intervened.  He didn't cast them off, He reached out in mercy,  He reminded them that there is a better way.  These "vilest of sinners" became some of the most amazing men in the Book of Mormon, Alma himself becoming a prophet later in his life.

Who are we to judge ourselves on our current sins and weaknesses?  Who are we to tell the God of all living, the Father and Creator of us all, the one who has all knowledge and all wisdom, that He is wrong about us?  When all is said and done, I'm pretty sure God knows what he's doing.  So we should probably trust Him when He says He loves us and knows how to help us achieve peace and happiness.  He can take the Saul parts of our lives and turn them into Paul parts, and show us an extraordinary outpouring of love while doing so, if only we let Him.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Retraction/An Apology

After hearing a few reactions to my last couple posts, especially from my mother who was trying to organize an emergency intervention for her "severely depressed" daughter, I decided to make a retraction/apology.  So here it goes.  It turns out, I am not severely depressed, so sorry for any confusion caused by my recent blogging.  What actually happened is this:  my personality is an interesting mixture of a love of complaining (despite not having anything real to actually complain about), a flare for the dramatic (mostly because I grew up reading and love interesting plot twists, however my real life is mostly uber boring so I often become overdramatic just for funsies), an over-enlarged ego (read:  when I make a statement regarding brain damage and feeling inferior, what I am actually saying is that everyone else has brain damage if they can't see how incredibly awesome I am), and last but not least, a slight disregard for telling the truth (don't ask why, I've always had that trait, even as a child.  It's a useful trait when needing to cheat at board games, which was a favorite pastime when I was younger, so maybe that's why it's so second nature now....)

I think growing up as a very shy, introverted, quite and boring child, I found that in order for anyone to listen to what I said, I had to make it interesting.  So I learned to embellish a little.  And in my defense, back in the day for the first year I had this blog when all I did was write boring things, I averaged 5ish readers.  Now that I've developed the habit of being a bit dramatic (which is much more fun to write), I average around 60 readers.  So maybe it's not all true, but I hope it's fun to read at least...

That's not to say of course that the fodder for my posts is not based in truth.  I did spend an entire night awake, angry at a roommate who brought in boys to build a bed way past my bedtime.  I did feel a twinge of regret at not caring the Bosox are in town this week.  (side note:  anyone who knows and cares about baseball with every fiber of their being will understand that my baseball post, of all posts, was not an understatement, baseball really is that serious).  But if truth be told, I do in no way feel a burden to humanity, or inferior because of "brain damage".  I did not start crying on my bike ride home yesterday.  My iPod didn't even play half of those songs mentioned.  And just because I don't currently have strongish feelings about baseball doesn't mean I don't have any feelings in my life (just ask my suitcases, already packed 3 weeks early...)  But there were a few points I wanted to make, and the literature seemed to flow a bit better with some embellishments.

I apologize that the last two posts happened to be depressing.  I promise to only write posts about butterflys and flowers for the next couple weeks.  And then after that all I will ever write for the next two years will be about the unbelievably wonderful things I'm doing in England and the rest of Europe while continuing to live my freakishly amazing and awesome life.  I hope that clarifies any confusion, and puts an end to any emergency interventions.  Sorry!

Good Times Never Seemed So Good

I was perhaps halfway through my bike ride home when I started sobbing.  It was my iPod's fault really.  It had the brilliant idea to choose, out of all 500 songs on my iPod, "Sweet Caroline", which was probably the straw that broke the camel's back.  I don't think I can pin point an exact feeling behind the sobbing.  In fact, to be honest, I was probably crying more for a lack of feeling.  The Red Sox are in town starting today, playing the Giants.  And no matter how I've tried, I couldn't bring myself to care.

Back in the day I would have moved heaven and earth to go to a Red Sox Game.  Nothing could have stopped me.  No battle too great, no obstacle too tall.  I would have slain any giant for a prized ticket to the happiest event on earth.  But as I sat at the side of the road, I ran through the various excuses I had given myself over the past weeks:  "I have no one to go with!"  Rubbish.  That's as false an excuse as I could ever give myself.  I hate going to games with people.  All they want to do is talk and spoil the beauty of baseball.  "San Francisco is too scary."  I'll admit, I don't like the city, there is a bit of validity to this excuse.  But really, go re-read the first 4 sentences of this paragraph.  Again, rubbish.  "It will hurt too much."  This most likely is true.  It would hurt.  I am a traitor to my cause, and I know every inch of it.  It would be like returning to the crime scene, and every ounce of evidence calling out my guilt.  This little sob fest on the side of the road would be nothing compared to the tears of remorse and shame that I would cry at that baseball stadium if I were there.  But in the great words of Jon Foreman (courtesy of my iPod, who seemed to think the theme of my bike ride home was 'induce depression') "Every lament is a love song".  My tears of pain would only be proof of my love, though once betrayed, forever there.  No, that excuse wasn't the real reason either.

I think my biggest fear was that I would be at the game, and I would feel nothing at all.  That I would find I am too far gone, and there is no redemption left available for me.  I have already squandered any opportunity I had left, I missed my turning point.  Now there is nothing.  I would see the green, and it wouldn't matter.  I would hear the crack of the bat, and my heart wouldn't start racing.  If I were to go to that field and find myself empty, find that my soul had finally deserted me because I spent years ignoring it, I'm not sure I would be able to go on.  Baseball was too much a part of me.  As another song my iPod felt the need to play stated, it is "written in the scars of my heart".  If baseball is taken away from me, there is not enough left.

I have been gone too long, and I cannot seem to find the way back.  "It's like forgetting the words to your favorite song.  You can't believe it, you were always singing along.  It was so easy, and the words so sweet.  You can't remember, you try to feel the beat...." (Regina Spektor.  What can I say, my iPod was on a roll today).  No one I knew is there anymore.  It is all strange names, strange faces.  I don't relate to the dramas of the current season, the fact that teams that were once laughing stocks are now lethal threats, the excitement of certain players or teams doing certain exciting things.  The baseball joys of my innocent youth is gone, and I have grown too tainted, too cynical, too wary.  There is no "maybe next year", hope of spring, suspense of October.  Baseball was my family, my best friends, my teacher, my ally, colleague.  I have spent the past few years of my life slowing closing more and more people out of my life, realizing the pain that comes with relationships and building fences to prevent future damage.  The relationships of baseball seemed to have been lost in that as well.

And yet.

I was packing my suitcases for England yesterday.  I packed my Red Sox blanket, but obviously one needs a blanket in a cold country.  I packed my Red Sox hat, but that's because hats are handy, and you should always have one just in case.  I packed a baseball.  I don't know why.  I'll never use it.  But there it is, in my suitcase.  In the midst of my packing and unpacking and re-organizing, trying to fit in everything I need to take and keep my bags underweight, that item never seems to leave the suitcase.  Forgive me baseball, I didn't know what I was doing.  I didn't know the pain my absence would cause, and the pain from finding it impossible to return.  I suppose when it really comes down to it, I can't survive without baseball in my life. So what have I been doing these past few years?  And how will I continue, knowing the gates are closed on me now?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Brain Damage=Alone Forever

First and foremost, I have brain damage. But if you read my blog, you probably know that already. One of the biggest effects of my brain damage is my inability to fall asleep and my inability to stay asleep. I try to compensate by going to bed quite early in order to maximize the amount of hours slept each night. Especially since I have to get up at 5am to make an hour bike ride to work, where I must interact with a large number of people in a very energetic and cheerful manner for 8 hours straight.

The second important thing to know in order to understand the rest of this particular post is my living situation. I live in a room called the "orphanage". This room is a large master bedroom that has been fixed to fit as many people as possible in order to have as cheap of rent as possible. So there are currently 3 girls in the room, including me.

So I'd had a pretty tiring week up to this point. I hadn't been sleeping very well the previous few nights, and I was looking forward to trying to get a decent night sleep this night. So I had turned the lights off gone to bed at my normal early hour (the same hour that happens at every night since I have lived in said "orphanage"), when 15 minutes into my attempt to fall asleep a roommate comes barging in, turned on the lights and proclaimed in a loud voice that she had just called boys to help her move her twin bed out of the room and assemble a new full bed. The worst part, I don't think it even entered into her mind one bit how inconsiderate this actually was. There was no emergency, we had plenty of places in the house to store the new bed til a more convenient hour to assemble the bed, and I highly doubt 3 boys were even necessary at any stage of this unfortunate event.

It took a long time for this changing of the beds to occur. All the big bright lights were on the entire time, despite the fact we have a plethora of other lighting options they could have easily used. They pretended to whisper in order not to "disturb" me, but that was a joke. One boy was shocked that I would even consider going to bed so ridiculously early. At one point I had to listen to a discussion 2 boys had over me, wondering if I was actually asleep or just ignoring them.

After the initial nightmare was over, my roommate left(leaving the light on of course) to go buy sheets for her bed. After getting up to turn off the lights, I put on some soothing music to try and calm my raging mind enough to try and fall asleep. After 45 min, I was calmed down enough and almost asleep when once again roommate comes barging in turning all the bright lights on, just so she could assemble her bed. Because the hall light wasn't good enough. Or bathroom lights. Or any other number of reasonable choices.

By the time she was all done, it was midnight and I was as wide awake as if it were noon. I knew there was no hope of sleep for hours. All I could do was lay there in seething anger and think about life, which is never a good thing to do when angry. I get that my brain damage is inconvenient for others. My going to bed early must be a huge trial for my other roommates to deal with. Maybe I shouldn't burden others with my presence by sharing a room with them. Clearly I have way too much baggage and should just stay away from all people to make their lives easier.

And while I'm on the topic of brain damage making it hard to get along with other people, how am I going to make new friends in England? Everyone makes friends in the pub, but I'm sure that they're just starting their evening at the pub by the time I'm ready to crawl into bed. And while I don't mind ginger ale or ginger beer, I don't actually like drinking things that aren't water very often, especially sodas, because of all of the sugar content. I'm basically doomed to the life of a hermit.

 Another roommate also informed me that I have bad patterns in my dating life that lead to my lack of love life, and even the fact that I actually am not looking for a relationship right now she claimed was a bad pattern in my life. She basically stated unless I make drastic alterations, I would continue my streak of never getting asked out on dates, never been kissed, never being in a relationship. At this point in my life, I actually don't care. I love Europe more than I can imagine loving any boy, and especially given my most recent interactions with the species called humankind the only sort of future I want it living in a huge mansion by myself, next door to my sister's large mansion.

 At one point during the night though, as I was sobbing and tossing and turning, my mind going to one exteme of thinking I am a horrible person and burdun to people because of my brain damage to the other extreme of all humans are horrible and inferior people and I, in my superior state of being, never want to see another one again, I noticed a package of ginger candy from the one roommate that I adore. So maybe there is a bit of hope. Not all people hate me. And I don't hate all people.