Monday, July 26, 2010

You don't have to be an expert to find meaning in life.

Life this week took some interesting turns. The LDS music workshop I attended last week included an optional recording competition; participants record the competition song in a studio and the top ten singers of each gender perform on an upcoming CD. Tyler Castleton and Jenny Phillips are the judges. Tyler coached me at my recording session and seemed pretty happy with my performance; the contest results will be posted in two weeks. I'll attach an .mp3 file of the song I recorded. There are a few things I would change – the second verse is too loud, for example – but it's pretty good either way. And the experience was a blast.


Since I've begun asking for help here in my letter, I've found that it has become easier to ask people for help and advice in person, as well. The combination has opened floodgates. I'm grateful for everything each of you does in my life. A few of the things on this week's schedule thanks to outside help: A meeting on Friday with the co-founder of a consulting firm in Provo. A studio session to record a professional demo CD on Monday. And a compelling TV program that may change my life (who knows?) on Tuesday night.


Last week I mentioned that I was planning to better understand where my book fit in the publishing world. This week I tried to put my plan to the test. After scouring a Seagull bookstore for books like Watching Cookies in the Oven, I caved in and asked an employee (who had already asked three times if she could help me) if any books like mine existed. Now don't get me wrong – there was an aisle and a half devoted solely to the Inspirational and Self-Help genres there. But, as far as I could see (and the employee agreed on this aspect), every inspirational book was written by someone who had a claim to being a 'popular expert' – holding a major calling in the Church, having a PhD in a relevant topic, teaching in the field for 30 years, or going through some massive perspective-changing experience like cancer or motherhood.


But I didn't write Watching Cookies in the Oven from an expert perspective. It doesn't include proven methods to overcome life's problems or checklists that will instantly turn you into a better person. Why? Because I don't believe you need to be an expert to learn or apply the things I've learned. That's where my book is different. Underlying the monopoly of inspirational books written by BYU professors and Church leaders is the belief that normal people can't have sublime experiences. I believe that we are each individual children of God… and that we can each have sublime experiences each and every day. Do I think that reading my letter and applying the things I suggest will make you happy? No. In some cases the Spirit will inspire me to write about something particularly applicable to your life. But my stories are my own – and while I've learned great things, hopefully my letters inspire you to look at your own life and learn directly from the Lord, not to rely on my 'expertise.' The message of my book is that you don't need to go through cancer, childbirth, and war to become a better person; you just need to go through life. The Lord designs our lives with the perfect mix of experiences to help us turn to Him. For me, that's a lot more compelling than anything an expert could teach me.


The employee at Seagull book suggested that I try to get endorsements from experts to make my book more marketable. The Spirit confirmed then and there that it was a good idea, so my personal feelings on the matter have been quelled. That brings me to my request for help this week: If you know any experts on life, think of them. Otherwise, think of people who might enjoy reading this letter. Forward this letter and a copy of Watching Cookies in the Oven (attached to last week's letter) and ask them to write about their experience reading.


Just a few weeks ago I had no idea where life would take me. This week, I still have no idea. But something is different; I know that the Lord is involved in my life and I feel peace. And I have things to do in the meanwhile. I've wanted to do a demo recording session for years… but never felt it was worth the money or time. Maybe I'll find a job with a consulting firm. Maybe I'll dedicate a huge part of my life to music. Maybe I'll live in Utah or anywhere else in the US. Maybe none of those will happen. Hopefully I'll know in the next few weeks.


When life is hard and I'm waiting for something, it can be hard to focus on anything else. Days seem to slowly creep by… and I wonder if I'm actually accomplishing anything worthwhile. But I'm in charge of my life… and so I should be able to find something to make life worthwhile. When I find things to do, dreams to fulfill, challenges to conquer, then life falls into place. And the waiting happens while I'm engaged in something else more meaningful. It's like a principle I learned at home. When you've lost something, pray for help and then clean the house. If you spend your time cleaning, then when you finish at least you have a clean house. Often you'll find what you're looking for. If you just look, on the other hand, then at the end you may just end up being more frustrated because you couldn't find what you were looking for, and you just wasted hours searching fruitlessly. If you just wait for the Lord to answer your prayers, then life will probably be miserable. So that's my suggestion for this week. Look at your life and the things you are waiting or searching for. Find something else that will help you accomplish your goals and also take your mind off less desirable tasks. And then do it. Be actively involved in shaping the direction of your life as you wait on the Lord to fulfill His promises. You deserve to be happy. Really.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, David! I could really use your help recording if you have the time. If you can get me the text of your book, I might be able to find a few experts to look at it; I didn't see it in the blog.

    Good luck, and know that you're not the only out there struggling to find your way and change the world for the better with music, writing, et. al.


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