The Happiness of Pursuit.



Confession. I've watched three rated R movies in my life. This (Hector and the Search for Happiness) is one of them. Granted, two choice scenes must be expertly skipped through. Besides that, this movie rocks my socks off. I won't attempt to give a synopsis of the whole thing because you should just watch it on Netflix and then we can chat. I did want to talk about this one scene though. The happiness of pursuit. I've been thinking a lot about that lately.

If you think about it, our entire existence is one of of progression. Sometimes I get fooled into the classic "I'll be happy when..." myth, aka the pursuit of happiness. Instead of the "I'll be happy now..." mantra, aka the happiness of pursuit. We are designed to pursue. Pursue development, relationships, accomplishments, etc. True, when we reach significant milestones in life, there is often a short period of happiness. But when I look back on my life, it's the experience of pursuit that brings me joy. It's the years I spent in the gym with my volleyball teams, not the actual games won. It's the late nights studying for exams with friends, not the grades. It's the being lost in the streets of Rome with my family, not the Colosseum. You get the point. Think about it for a second and you will agree with me...I promise.

Additionally, I think figuring out this whole happiness of pursuit deal is more important that just figuring out how to be happy on this earth. I think subconsciously, I've always thought that I'll have "arrived" when/if I make it to heaven. Set me up in my mansion with my family and I'll be good to go right? WRONG. I believe that we are eternal beings. Our progression will never cease. And in order to one day become like God, I need to figure out how to find joy in my pursuits. In order to be happy for eternity, we need to learn how to be happy because of progression.

Anyway. There is my thought of the day. Of course I think it's pretty great and I have zero idea how to apply it to my life. But bam there it is.

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editing papers.

This post isn't actually about editing papers...don't worry. It's just a principle I realized recently that's easier to explain with this whole paper idea. Details and a confusing explanation to follow (bear with me).

Remember in high school? When you had to write SO many papers? Maybe you still do. It's been a while for me, but that's beside the point. Anyway, you would write it up...nail that page requirement (##double spaced##). Immediately afterwards, you would hand it over to mom or dad, so they could help you edit it. I don't know about you, but in my case I always had to VASTLY different experiences depending on which parent I handed the paper to.

(**Note: This is in no way a slam to papa Ken. Because I could write essays on how much I love that man and would never change a thing.)

Mom vs. Dad (assuming the exact same paper…)
Dad: Dad takes the paper. Sits down at the bar. It’s 9pm. He’s probably eating some cold cereal, so I pour myself a bowl too (because eating cold cereal at night together is kind of this bad habit that we’ve have had since I was like 3…literally). He skims it over. Adds a comma here and there, gets rid of an “and”. He hands me back the paper. Tells me I’ve done a really great job, he loves it! SWEET. I run off to bed with no angst and no hard feelings.

Mom: Mom takes the paper. She’s a little upset because you handed it to her at 9pm and she wakes up at 5 every morning to run (without fail). She goes into her room, with your paper and a pen. Thirty minutes later she calls you in. Your paper is a MESS. Her scribbles are all over that thing. She’s confused. You are now also confused. You start questioning everything you just did. The two of you begin going through the mess, sentence by sentence. We would argue—creating this perfect storm of frustration and exhaustion as we neared 11ish pm. I would probably shed a few tears (knowing myself). Once we went to the underworld and back with that thing, I’d thankfully retreat to my bed, thankful I had survived the storm and thankful for my mom dealing with me and my MESS.

Dad: Well…let’s just say we got an ok grade on that thing.

Mom: You freaking nailed that mess turned literary analysis.

Moral of the paper story: you absolutely HAVE to go through the mess to get that grade.

You might still be a little confused at where I’m going with this. So, let’s throw in some classic 2 Nephi 2:11 to get us centered on my point:

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.”

OPPOSITION. Let’s think about that word for a second. When I think about it, I automatically think of something miserable. Like editing a paper (the mom version of editing at least). Opposition is something that makes us all a little squirmish. I think initially, we would all feel good about avoiding most of the opposition we come in contact with on a daily basis.

I’m coming to understand a few principles about opposition though. The first is this: Opposition can often be something negative. But a lot of times, it’s just something opposite! Opposite doesn’t have to mean good or bad, it just means different. How blahhhh would life be if everything was the same? The scripture says, if we were “one body” (all the same) we might as well be dead. That’s quite the statement if you ask me. How GRACIOUS is our God to give us a life and a world filled with glaring opposites. So many instances of “opposition” have brought me joy in my life. A random list to name a few:

·         When I was little, my favorite activity at any hotel was running from the hot tub, to the swimming pool...back and forth for hours. Jumping in one extreme after another was THRILLING to me as a kid—the hot was extra hot and the cold extra cold. (I may or may not still enjoy this activity occasionally…)
·         A brownie, with hot fudge, and some cold vanilla ice cream. Opposites my friends. I rest my case.
·         Waking up at 5 am. Hiking in the cold and the dark to the top of a mountain to see the sun come up. Or…sleeping in on a Sunday morning. One of those days when your bed is juuuust the right temperature and it feels like your comforter is literally giving you a hug. Opposites. And both SO DANG GOOD.
I know those are kind of silly examples, but on a more serious note—that brings me to my second point about opposition. Opposition refines us. I just truly believe that you can’t have the good without the bad (or…opposite). It’s why we came here. To struggle with the natural man. To progress through life. To experience changes with opposition. It’s the opposition that turns us into really good and really amazing people.

Now to bring it back to editing papers. I’m thankful to have a mother who is willing to go through the mud with me. Because it produces a really amazing paper. I’m thankful to have a mother who I can fight with. A mother who is honest and open with me. A mother who helps me be a better person. Even though most might see those things happening and think we are a little intense sometimes as we are yelling at each other…at the end of the day, my mother is also my best friend. She’s the person I disclose every detail of my life to…from what I ate for lunch, to who I have a crush on, and what my biggest fears and insecurities are. She’s the person I come looking for when I get home from work. I honestly believe I feel so close to her, because of how crazy we are. I know that sounds un-logical…but I think it’s the key. It’s the opposition and the struggle that brings the closeness and joy. We can’t have one without the other. The hot without the cold. The loneliness without the love. The triumph without the struggle. The light without the dark.

I could keep rambling for pages about this. But maybe it makes sense to someone. The moral of my story with opposition this understanding that I’m slowly obtaining, that it’s something good and necessary in my life. The understanding that gives me patience when I’m tired of being tried. The understanding that gives me context for my struggles. And the understanding that lets me see the contrasting colors that God is letting me splatter on my life through the beautiful principle of opposition.

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