Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gospel Symbolism from my First Kiss (yes, you can laugh!) - July 20, 2009

This last week went great. Practice for the Pirates of Penzance is getting down to the line – we open in 11 days! We also had our first cast meeting for Stand Strong – the movie I’m in. Saturday I was driving home from practice and had the thought that I should go find a mechanic’s outfit for Stand Strong. I don’t know what they are doing for costumes… but I had the thought and felt really strongly that I should go to the Deseret Industries thrift store in Provo. I walked in and suddenly wondered what I was doing. I didn’t even know what a mechanic’s outfit looked like – and I had definitely never seen one at DI. After searching for a few minutes, I stopped looking and started listening – trying to determine why I had been prompted to go to that specific store. After walking for a few moments, I found myself browsing through the men’s sleepwear section. I never browse that section – that’s where they stock night gowns, bath robes, and long johns. But then a tan fabric caught my eye and I found a tan jumpsuit that had a lot of pockets. I tried it on and found that it fit almost perfectly. Since it was brand new (and had no grease stains), it took some further research to confirm that it is a mechanic’s outfit. Wow. Sometimes I think that the Lord uses DI to give me presents. He inspires someone to donate something I need, and then tells me where it is and when to pick it up.

Before I go on in my letter, I want to give a caveat: most of the time I’m incredibly serious. I take life seriously and try to find meaningful symbolism in pretty much everything. But even that, in some situations, can be hilarious. And so, this letter lends itself to humor much more than usual. Feel free to laugh.
On July 16th, I had my first kiss – you know, the one that you're supposed to remember forever? Well, it was certainly memorable, but not necessarily for all the right reasons. On Monday of last week my director for the Pirates of Penzance had the girl who plays Mabel and me come in to discuss our onstage relationship. We talked about different events throughout the course of the play and how each one affected us individually. After talking for about an hour, our director told us we should kiss at some point during the show. Many productions place one after the “Oh, Here is Love” scene, and so we suggested doing it there. She agreed, and also wanted us to kiss at the very end of the show.

Between Monday and Wednesday, the director changed her mind. Just as we were finishing the love scene, she called out to tell us she wanted the very end of the musical to be the climax. The assistant director then explained how the end of the play was supposed to go – not a slow, prepare-for-it, lean in kind of kiss. I was supposed to “grab her and lay one on her.”

On Thursday was our producer’s review. I made sure I ate a few breath mints between scenes, and we got to the point where we were waltzing together – right at the end. As I spun her out, my costar started forgetting her choreography and began asking, “How should we do this? Should we do that?” According to what the directors had said to do, I grabbed her and kissed her.

The only thought that crossed my mind was, “This is kissing? How anticlimactic.” The music ended, we broke apart and everyone around us hooted. I wiped my mouth; as I made my way to my seat for notes I couldn't really tell if the “hot” comments were about us or about the actual temperature of the stage – everyone was coated in sweat.

Up until this week I was an “I'm not going to kiss anyone but my wife – and the first time will be across the altar” kind of guy. I realize that I am definitely not in the norm when I admit that, but after my first kiss I'm not sure I'm really missing much. There were no goose bumps, no butterflies in my stomach, no shiver running up and down my spine – I didn’t feel any of the feelings that are normally associated with kissing someone. Truthfully, I’m not all that thrilled about doing it another 20+ times – I think I would be happy if they cut it altogether and replaced it with a dramatic dip.

But, at the same time, I realize that my experience isn’t the norm. Most people don’t kiss someone because they are assigned to kiss them. Most people have time to prepare, and most people are in love (or at least think they possibly could be). I remember one of my professors from a marriage prep class at BYU. He always said that kissing was supposed to be enjoyable – not just something you do. “If you’re not enjoying it,” he said, “then you’re doing something wrong.”

There are plenty of reasons why I didn’t get emotionally involved in my first kiss. First of all, I didn’t think it was fair to me since my dreams of first-kissing across the altar had just been smashed. Second, my costar is six years younger than I am – seventeen years old. I’m twenty-three. There is no way that I could ever have feelings for a seventeen-year-old. And, anyway, I don’t think we’re right for each other anyway. Whatever the reason, I realize that I was missing a crucial ingredient in my first kiss – my heart.

There are many things in life that require and emotional and intellectual involvement (more than simply action) in order to have a lasting effect. People who pray without believing (or at least willing to believe) that God hears and answers prayers won’t recognize divine answers to their questions. Those who read the scriptures without actively searching for truth to apply in their lives will probably fall asleep while reading them. And those who give service or keep any of the commandments without having their hearts involved will be less willing to learn the lessons the commandments were designed to teach. Most of the important things we do in life need to have our heart behind them in order to be enjoyable... and in order to be effective. As Moroni says in the Book of Mormon, we must act with a sincere heart, with real intent, in order for our actions to be worthwhile.
God has created this life to teach us to be happy and to help us become like Him. He has given us commandments and guidance to help us along the path. Heart is the key - just as kissing someone on stage without involving your heart won't do much for your relationships, following God without your heart won’t bring you any closer to Him. If follow with our hearts and our hands, we will not only be on the path, but we will constantly have our destination in sight. We’ll be happy.

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