Monday, July 27, 2009

A Whole Lot of Writing -- with No Pictures?!

Well, I always swore I would never turn this blog into a public journal, but I've already broken that rule a couple of times, and feel it's time to admit that I might head slightly in that direction on future posts, including this one. Enjoy!

Cultural Adventure Posts
I decided I'm going to try to post something, even if it's brief, on a regular basis, regarding my experience re-immersing myself in the Salt Lake/Utah Valley culture. Mostly this is to motivate me to get off my duff and live life to its fullest, but I also think it'll be an adventure in discovering Utah again. My first tenure here was spent with too much focus on school. This time around, I've decided to be more committed to experiencing the richness this state has to offer -- the great outdoors adventures, the local art communities, the festivals, etc. Heck, even some of the campus events that I never got around to doing will be a part of this series (I sadly never went to a football game while a student here!).

I feel that too many of us that went to college in Utah and then left the state have decided to focus our memories way too much on a few bad experiences, blowing them out of proportion and forgetting the good. One of my goals in these posts is to not only rediscover what is great about life here, but to find new things to rave about this state. It's not just some place where a bunch of Mormons enjoy living in a cultural bubble -- it's an environment worth exploring!

Lord of the Muscles: Return of the Calves
Time to get back in shape. I believe I weigh more right now than I ever have, and that ain't right. After having settled somewhat in my new digs and recovered from my mountain biking accident (oh, the post is forthcoming, don't you worry), I've decided to get back into an exercise routine. This will probably take place in the evenings as I usually can't even see straight until after lunch time. In any case, I'm documenting and measuring this progress by snapping weekly photos of my left calf. When the golden calves have returned from under their fleshy curtain of solitude, you'll know I'm back in business.

Don't worry, though, I won't be posting these photos of the calves. That would just make me look like I have some odd sort of fetish! No, once I'm back in shape I'll probably just pick the best ones and make a slideshow to demonstrate my progress over time. That's what normal people do, right?

Growing Pains
First of all, wasn't that such a great show? Seriously, there are few '80s comedies that have stood the test of time, and this is one of them. It had some really witty jokes and most of the plots strayed from the cliched scenarios that were recycled throughout prime time television in those days. Oh man.

But I have decided that it's time to grow up just a little. I'm not totally changing my personality here, but let me share a few points I've been thinking about:

  1. I'm seriously cutting back the time I spend on a certain video game. I've never really been as hard core about it as the stereotypical gamer is, but as I thought about embarking on the aforementioned cultural journey I realized this could be a pretty big distraction for me. I may even delete it from my hard drive to purge myself. I don't regret playing or anything, and I certainly plan on continuing very casual use of my PS3, but I just need to make sure I'm well-rounded enough that I'm not ever even tempted to start on the path of introversion via video games.

  2. In a recent issue of the Ensign (for any non-LDS readers I may have, this is a monthly magazine that most Mormons in the US subscribe to), a British general authority wrote an article on how the gospel refines our tastes and language. It's made me think quite a bit, as he stated that one who has really lived the gospel over a period of time avoids casual language and colloquialisms (I think he gave an example of how God would never describe a good experience as "awesome"), and that said person also really appreciates classical music from centuries past and such.

    It was hard to swallow at first. I felt like he was telling me I'm wrong for regularly using the term "hard core" and listening to rock music. Heck, by his definition, even the Beatles aren't refined enough. In fact, a couple of people who I consider to be among the best understanders and livers of gospel principles are some of the roughest-around-the-edges people I've ever known!

    But as I got to thinking more about it, I am not so sure he meant what my knee-jerk interpretation figured. I think a lot of the things he mentioned are things that naturally occur over time spent in the Church -- as in decades. And you know, I'm okay with Old Man Shark speaking a little more maturely. I don't picture myself in my 60s and 70s constantly praising my grandkids by saying "rock on!" (note the inclusion of the qualifying word "constantly"). Also, I think the seeds for that appreciation of classic arts are already planted. I own and listen to Handel's Messiah now and then and in humanities courses I've taken, I've honestly been amazed by the musical progress made by our predecessors. That being said, I don't think it's wrong for Old Man Shark to pop in some Weezer or Beatles or what have you. I know this sounds weird in a Holy Roller sort of way, but when it comes down to it I believe that a lot of rock music is of God, and I don't think "Hard Day's Night" is going to be banned from Heaven, you know? These artists have also made some excellent contributions to cultural history and I think there's a lot of inspiration in some of this music.

    That being said, I've decided there are things I can and perhaps should do to not seem like such a slob in some regards. For the most part I refer to my language. I don't consider myself to be someone with a dirty mouth, but in the past year or so I've been more lenient on my uses of the words "hell, "damn," etc. ... some of the "lighter" curse words which I'll use maybe once every couple of weeks just for shock value or hyperbole. I think I'd like this to come to an end... Just a little personal thing that I want to give up to show a greater commitment to being a better product of my religion. I also need to re-tighten my standards a tad on some of the media I expose myself to. Again, I'm not into porn or dirty music, in fact I still don't watch R-rated films, but sometimes I feel I let things slide that maybe I shouldn't. So, expect future writings to be just as rockin', but with better ways of communicating said rock!

  3. I've gotten less snooty about the nickname. Don't get me wrong, I definitely still prefer going by "Shark" because I'm so used to it, but I've decided from here on out that I won't sneer (visibly or not) at people who decide to make use of the name on my birth certificate. Is it part of growing up? I'm not sure. I just know that I've felt like it's not worth alienating people. I don't care if someone looks down on me for having a "unique" nickname -- if they're too cool for school, that's their problem, not mine -- but there may be times I could reach out or be a friend to someone, and I'd hate it if I found out I had missed an opportunity to do so just because I had driven them away by insisting on being called something they were sincerely uncomfortable with. So, for the record, I still prefer Shark, but you can get away with calling me by my given name without incurring my wrath, though it may take some getting used to for me.

  4. I want to be like Darrell. I know this seems counter-intuitive under a heading about growing up (bwah bwaaah, just kidding Darl!), but I've always admired Darrell for his financial responsibility and I think it's time I join the game. I've already been doing much better lately at saving up money, but I can still do better. A lot of this stems from recent conversations I've had about being a good provider, both spiritually and physically, for my future wife and kids. I know already from experience in dating relationships that it feels terrible when you don't think you're being what your significant other needs. I'd hate to accept the responsibility of being a husband/father and not be able to support my loved ones in a way that they can be free to lead happy lives.
Well, this is one of the most personal posts I've written in a long time. Better enjoy it, as I'm not planning on being this sober all that often (hic!). So on that little note...



Carlos the Great said...

I wouldn't worry too much about the "growing up" bit, just roll with it. I've been feeling kind of similar the past few weeks. Maybe I'm finally reaching the end of my quarter-life crisis and finding myself or something, feels good though.

Also, I found it interesting what you wrote regarding the English dude. I can respect his opinion, but I don't necessarily agree with it. I think that in some sense our tastes can be influenced by the Gospel, especially when it comes to avoiding the trashy stuff. But I feel like our tastes simply change the older we get anyway. It's like when I tried watching Thundercats a few years ago, after having such fond memories as a kid. It was terrible! I couldn't get through it. Most old people don't listen to heavy rock music, but that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with it or using words like "awesome." There are a LOT of things that old people don't want to do anymore. "Are there any stairs?" "Just one..." "Nuts to you!"

JBod said...

1. Have you received the August issue of the Ensign yet? It has an article about a certain type of video game...I think it may have been inspired by the same game you are mentioning here.

4. I wish I had as much money saved up as Darrell did. Seriously, I don't know how I would have survived being homeless and without income for a month and moving to California to start a new job - all only a few months after having a baby - if I hadn't had a good chunk of money in savings. I wholly support financial responsibility.

4b. I also support the ideas in this article: Science has proven that the more you give, the more likely you are to prosper.

Cabeza said...

I... I kind of have some problems with the way in which Elder Callister defines his terms and creates an impression of the fallen state of culture.

"Could our society today produce an Isaac Newton or a Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?" I posit that our society today has produced multiple versions of both of those classic icons. You could trump a figure like Stephen Hawking, or just point in the general direction of all of the amazing researchers and theorists that are constantly improving the quality of human life and revolutionizing the world. I would further posit that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, and other extremely gifted songwriters/musicians are modern Mozarts. It's strange that he assumes that because someone isn't popularly known for his science or because the production of classical music fell behind jazz, then rock 'n' roll, then other forms and hybrids, that means we don't have gifted and inspired people improving our world.

It's also fairly ethnocentric. Great books are "available to rich and poor alike in the libraries of the world." This may be true in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain at least, but do poor people in the Middle East have access to free public libraries? In the Andes? In sub-Saharan Africa?

I don't know. I don't want to bad-mouth a general authority, and I certainly do agree with the gist of what he's saying--that we should embody a belief in the 13th Article of Faith. But his specifics are narrow in scope, I think. Someday the Beatles will be music that has "passed the tests of time and been cherished by the noble and refined" (note that we have no nobility in America, nor in most of the world now).

Other than that reaction, I say good on ya, Shark. This was a good post.

Ted said...

I find some of the comments at the end of your post where you discuss wanting to be better prepared to be a husband and father interesting in how much I can identify with those feelings. As you already know, I was pretty far from the straight and narrow path when I met your sister, and I went through those same feelings of wanting to be a better man for her. It's times like those, when you can honestly reflect on your own life and consciously make choices to improve, where you can have long reaching and life changing differences. If you need an example, again refer to Ted from 11 years ago to the Ted today. :)
Oh, and just because one GA said that we will become refined doesn't mean that I won't appreciate some ZZ Top in my golden years. I'll need some higher level revelation to stop listening to old rock.