Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Work, Not Worry

Sometime in the early or mid '80's, I painted a sign with red paint and hung it above my desk in my room that said,

"-cuts stress by 85%"

It hung there for years, and now having moved 7 times since, I still have it around here somewhere. I was a mechanical engineering student at the University of Utah. I had learned the feelings of hope and confidence, and the relaxation that come when you just get to work and bypass the mental review of the hopelessness of your situation.

We all know the feeling that comes when we finally get started on a dreaded and procrastinated task.

In later years, a friend was being married (sealed) in the Washington D.C. temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which I am also a member. He had asked me to serve as a witness to the sealing. We had some kind of trouble to slow us down, I do not remember what, that typically plague a trip to the temple. I remember thinking I should not worry, simply do all I could to get there and keep my mind on him whose name is on the church I mentioned, and everything would work out fine. - Because after all, it was his house, his program and we were needed there, so they would probably wait for us. Well, we got there in good time and I never forgot the experience or the principle it taught me as applied to trips to the temple and the obstacles encountered with that.

Not too long ago, I began to think perhaps the principles behind the laws stated in the scriptures such as that of tithing that have no ambiguity about when and whether they should be followed, nor question about whether their blessings will come, might extend beyond just the law as stated. In other words, one might be blessed that much more if one gave beyond 10% of one's increase to bless others. Or in the case of thinking of the Savior while in a tight spot, trusting that through him everything will work out fine might be just as reliable when applied to things other than trips to the temple or other church activities.

All this learning not to worry is built on the foundation my own mother laid for me. She met every day on her knees, lingering there with the hesitation to get up that made me impatient and of the sort teenagers in love have when they are on the phone. Then to every threat to her or her family members' peace, she would say, "Everything will be alright." This is the faith spoken of in regard to the mothers of the Stripling Warriors in the Book of Mormon (see Book of Mormon, Book of Alma, Chs. 56 & 57).

And President Henry B. Eyring said about one of his own worrisome experiences, "As I prayed in these last few nights, those and other memories flooded back with an assurance something like this: “Haven’t I always looked after you? Think of the times I have led you beside the still waters. Remember the times I have set a table before you in the presence of your enemies. Remember, and fear no evil.” (See Psalm 23).

"Fear no evil." I liked that because sometimes I get a little paranoid.

So I have learned not to worry, generally. But I caught myself this morning doing it a little and had the lesson reinforced that even a little is not necessary or useful. In fact, it decimates our blocks of faith - that which brings winning power into our lives. I had a situation over the last several days that has occupied my mind as the priority concern. All in regard to it has seemed to go well and have the Lord's hand in it. Still, I am somewhat anxious about it and its outcome will determine the direction of my subsequent magnitude.

So I have been prayerful, calm and patient, but this morning, I began to consider a negative possibility in connection with it that I had not thought of before. The natural response to such a thought is to mull over it as if one owed it to oneself to so do. But being on my game, I blocked it all out just like I can block the dog from coming in by shutting the door. Because I was remembering the things of which I write. I knew that by blocking it off, and leaving such possibilities to the Lord, knowing that the considerations would have no possible actions available, I would preserve the power of my faith.

After holding the door shut for about a minute, it faded off into the forgotten bin.

There is no need even for nervousness in these situations, much less fear. We can rejoice before the votes are tallied, we can sigh in relief before the contest starts. We can perform with a flair. We can relax and enjoy the show even when we are the show. But only if we remember Jesus, pray, focus and act.

Wow. Without even being aware, I just wrote on the ever-popular subject of faith and works.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Nothing new here, just a little status update. We recently took an income cut-back and had eaten all the food. Well, not all the food. But it is interesting how good the food starts to taste when that happens. First, they finish the cookies and stuff. Then the fruit. Then the dairy. Then one by one, the next-most attractive food disappears, till you are finally down to the potatoes and beans. And with each new stage, it is amazing how the next best available temptation tastes as good as the last one to disappear. For example, when I have peanuts, I don't often crave sunflower seeds. But with the peanuts and other nuts AND the dairy gone, sunflower seeds are the bomb!

And as it progresses, I feel better and better. I LOVE a bowl of beans with nothing added.

I am trying to think of a way to artificially create this environment for myself when we can afford groceries, without moving out and separating myself from my family. Even for someone like me, it is impossible to maximize my taste for the simple and wholesome amid a flurry of pizza, cakes, fancy recipes, etc.

If I was single, I could live on $20 a week for food. And I would.

I guess the best way is just decide to be strong and do it - maximize, I mean.

New Scientific Muscle-Building Secrets

I think to be overmuscled is to be overweight. I think I would want to be overmuscled no more than I would want to be arthritic, diabetic or obese. To me, it would be a handicap. I could not be swift, enduring, "rubberbandman," or rope-climbing champion. Not to mention all the work involved that does not go toward helping anyone, much less unnatural drugs and supplements. I value the fitness and physique of the American Male of 25 years ago and prior, sans the smoking.

(In high school, they called me "Rubberbandman," after the song that was new and popular at the time. It was for the way I wriggled out of wrestling holds. I also held the rope-climbing record for distance at the time the ropes were taken down and the school closed. This ability to climb and wriggle has served me very well working on cars and machinery and up inside lowered ceilings, truss-work and other tight places, etc., as well as in mountaineering and such.)

And while I'm at it, I think tattoos are unsightly. And that's coming from a guy who spent much of his adult leisure dressed in weathered biker leathers astride a 1970 Triumph and still has stock in some scruffy styles that some think are reproachable.

Just to get a little off the subject, one thing that really felt good used to be to come home in the wee hours from a long motorcycle ride, dog-tired and just crash without removing any leather. Awesome.

And once, I did it on a park bench in snow somewhere in Oregon. But that was more out of necessity and didn't actually feel as luxurious. Was there really snow? Or is that just the story getting older and better? Anyway, it was cold.

Just thinking about bikes, I have ridden bicycles just as much if not more than motorcycles, and it's kinda funny to find out that my grandfather, who died when I was just a toddler, used to ride a bicycle on the railroad ties for business trips from Ogden, Utah to who-knows-where in Wyoming. I guess it was back in the day when it was still dirt highway. I don't think I would have taken the rr. But maybe it was shorter and flatter that way. I'd like to know more about it. Anyway, it's almost as if there was something to do with kin and heredity, this penchant for rolling on two wheels to an eccentric range of application, because since I was in college, I have preferred the bicycle in almost every situation - dates, commutes, cruising, shopping, you name it.