Sunday, June 20, 2010

Life is amazing.

Over the past weeks I’ve gotten sporadic requests to make my letters more optimistic and uplifting. Normally I’m a pretty upbeat person, so the comments hit me as strange. Then I looked inside myself to better understand what was happening… and I realized how depressed I truly was. I reread my letters and confirmed what others had said – they could be more uplifting. And so I had some choices to make.

When I first started writing each week, there were times when I whitewashed positivism into my letters. I wanted to be a shining, stalwart example of optimism, and I thought the effect would dim if anyone knew that I sometimes struggled in life. I didn’t want to burden anyone reading my letters with more problems than they already had. Then I went to an author’s conference where a presenter spoke about the need for imperfect protagonists in LDS literature. She talked about how readers develop relationships based on how well they relate to individual characters. It was exactly opposite what I had originally thought; instead of needing only perfect or one-sided role models, people relate more easily to those who are authentically like them – imperfect, struggling, but trying to move forward in life. As she spoke, I saw immediate parallels to my weekly letter. It made sense. After pondering for a few weeks, I made the jump from trying to be on a pedestal to simply sharing about my life. I decided that my letters would be reflections of my reality. And, as time has passed, I’ve seen that being real has sometimes affected more lives (if you count email replies as affecting lives) than simply saying life is good.

But depressing letters, while they may be good sometimes, get depressing if you read them week after week. So, in addressing my optimism problem, if I wanted to be honest, I had two choices. I could either continue to write depressing letters or change my life. I decided to change my life. And the results are crazy. Who would have thought? I quit my job, have no one to date, have no car (since mine died for the umpteenth time), and can’t find a clear direction in life. And yet life is amazing. Really. For the first time in months I feel like I am going in the right direction, even though I don’t know what direction that is. Life is suddenly more meaningful and more fulfilling. I walk outside and find peace in sweeping a dirt pathway under the rose arbor. I swim with cousins and teach them 14 different ways to splash, then laugh as they forget all but one. I do pushups while listening to talks from General Conference and everything just seems to fall into place. It will all work out. Life is amazing.

Of course, there are still downsides. Wednesday was my last day at work, and while it was the right decision to leave, leaving was hard. Today was my last day in my most recent ward. I was here for 5 or 6 weeks – long enough to give a talk (that happened today) and only begin to make friends. But I’ve decided to look at life right now as an adventure waiting to unfold… instead of a horror story where awful things wait just around the corner. Again, life is amazing.

Since Wednesday, I’ve been trying to determine what type of projects to work on in the short term – while I’m with family for the next month and looking for a new job. I also need to at least try to make some long-term plans. So I spent Thursday and Friday beginning to organize all the potential directions I could go in life. I like to create massive bulleted lists for projects like this; each bullet covers a different topic. I started listing the names and status of every project I’ve begun in the last three years, including what would need to happen next to move them along. There are unfinished novels and polished manuscripts, ways to change the world or simply become a better person, passing fancies and lifelong dreams. After hours of outlining unfinished projects I felt better, but I wasn’t much closer to determining a good direction for the short or long term. I think I may work on some of my books again. We’ll see what happens.

Life is amazing. But it doesn’t always seem to be. Each of us faces struggles in life. Sometimes the key to realizing life’s beauty is in simply changing our attitude – looking at life through a different lens. And sometimes the key is changing our lives. Ultimately, both will be required. We need to have an optimistic perspective to lift our sights towards Heaven. But we also need to change our lives so that we can actually get there someday. I know that it’s possible. It will probably be the hardest thing we ever do. But it’s possible… and it’s worth it.

I know that God lives, and that He loves us. Each of our lives is uniquely designed to enable us to be happy – to come closer to Him. If you think that life is amazing, and your actions align with what is good, then you’re probably on the right track. If not, then I invite you to make a change. Maybe you just need to wear rose-colored glasses so that you can see the world for it truly is. Maybe you need to make changes so that you can find more meaning in life. Maybe some of both. But as you do, I promise that the Lord will bless you. It will work, and you will come closer to Him. Then go share it with the world. Go out and be missionaries!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Custom Search