OK...I've been thinking about something over the last couple of days. Well, I guess it's something I've often thought about, but especially over the last couple of days. I'm not sure right now what I'm going to say; I hope whatever this post says when I hit the "publish" button won't offend you.
So this Brian Williams guy (a famous NBC reporter) has a show called Rock Center, and the other day they aired an episode called "Mormon in America." Of course, this was probably of interest, due to the fact that Mitt Romney (a Mormon) is going to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States for 2012. Now, I'm not here to talk politics. (I know---surprise!!!) This post has nothing to do with politics, actually. The reason I'm talking about all this is because I've been watching the Facebook threads and reading the comments on Youtube, in response to the "Mormon in America" special. And the thought running through my mind is this: Why is it so difficult to be genuine?
Before you go off about how you're totally genuine and, who is Wade to talk about this anyway, let me qualify my thoughts. I am who I am, right? I mean, I can't really be what I'm not. Many of you who have met me might be able to say a few things about me. And I hope that you'd have nice things to say. But is that only because you are people to whom I haven't been completely forthcoming about the totality of myself? Am I completely honest with you about who I am? Do I give you the not-so-good about me, along with the good? Hmmm......really makes you think, eh?
My driver's license says several things about me. It says I am 5'9". But did you know that I'm actually only 5'8", and that's in certain pairs of shoes? Barefoot, I'm maybe 5'7 1/2". I've been 5'9" before, in a pair of well-heeled boots. And so I told the guy at the DMV that I'm 5'9" because, in boots it's true and, 5'9", to a short guy, is much better than 5'7 1/2". And if a stranger over the phone were to ask me what color my hair is, I'd tell them blonde. But what I'd likely withhold is the fact that I'm going bald, and have been since I was maybe 20 or 21. I can't even hide it any more; the male balding pattern is there. I often wear a hat, because I'd rather people just think I'm some dude in a cool hat, rather than a young guy with bad hair genes. I like a good pair of pants. Not just any fit either. I have my particulars, and a lot of the comes down to which pair of pants will most successfully hide my "chicken legs?" So most people who pass me in the hall at school, or in the grocery store, will walk right past my very average, even forgettable look, without thinking a thing. I'd much rather that than for them to see that I'm skinny-legged. (I am a little pleased to say I've sort of given up on trying to cover the chicken legs. It's just too damned hot for pants in the summer!!!) Now, these are the little lies and cover-ups I'm guilty of as it pertains to my outward, physical appearance. What about what's on the inside? That's "what counts" after all.
I do believe I'm a genuinely good person. I actually believe I have a pretty good heart and that I care about others. And for those of you who know me, whether superficially or more deeply, I'd imagine you'd at least rate me "a good guy." But do you know I've been guilty of lying, cheating on grade school homework, forging my parents' signatures to my 6th grade band practice sheets, bullying, homophobia, hypocrisy and even racial slurs? When I tell you that I'm happy and doing well, do you know that there have been times in my life when I've been about as low as I can imagine going? When I give you the impression that I'm a pretty good student over at UVU, are you aware that finishing school has been, and continues to be one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life? That simply registering for my classes sometimes seems like a mountain too high for me to climb? The truth is, while I do try to be a good person, and I have had moments of great strength in my life, I am also incredibly weak, and I struggle everyday, trying to find the strength to go about life as I perceive every "normal person" to do.
Cut to my original paragraph...the one about "Mormons in America." As I've read the comment threads, I wonder...Why do we have such a hard time just being genuine? People on those threads are offended at the TV episode because "Brian Williams interviewed the wrong people." Or because unfair assertions were made. Or because they showed the sacred Mormon underwear. Or because they didn't make a strong enough point about how today, Mormons don't practice polygamy. And how Mormons aren't racist. And why would they interview Abby Huntsman or any other "inactive" Mormon? And the solution I must have read 200 times over the past 2 days is just "....and if you have questions about the church, go to lds.org or talk to the missionaries. Now any member of the church, who has actually read and studied Mormon doctrine and history, could answer your questions. And they might give you the bad with the good. AND THERE IS BOTH. If you do as the people on the comment threads advise, you'll be able to get the very simple, water-down, sometimes sugar-coated answers. But we're afraid of that much honesty sometimes... And this all brings me back to my question: Why is it so difficult just to be genuine?
I'm a Mormon. An inactive, unorthodox Mormon. I was even "disfellowshipped" at one time. Does this disqualify ME from answering others' questions about Mormonism? No. It does not. I was raised Mormon, in a family of Mormons with a history of Mormonism. I have polygamous ancestry. I was baptized at age 8. I was ordained and given the Aaronic priesthood at age 12 and then ordained to all of the successive offices of the priesthood, on up to an Elder in the Melchizedek priesthood. I served a full-time, 2-year mission. I was married in the temple (to my ex-wife, whom I later divorced) and I've been a part of the different ceremonies in the temple. I've read the Book of Mormon a few times. I still read the talks from the prophets and apostles in the Mormon magazine "The Ensign." So...I feel plenty qualified to answer questions about Mormonism. I'm probably a lot like Abby Huntsman. I may see the world differently than some of you see it, or differently than some choose to see it. I'm very honest about what I know about Mormonism. And it's not all roses. There are some thorns. And those thorns are what I'm getting at, I guess. My perception of those who were so offended at the "Mormon in America" special is that they're afraid of the thorns. They only want the world to know about the good stuff. They'd like Mormonism to "appear to be perfect."
Many of you are really good friends and family of mine. You've known me for a long time. You know most everything about me. And you still love me. You still want to be my friends. You still want me in your lives. You've proven to be the type of friends who love me for my roses, as well as my thorns. And so, I owe it to each of you to try and be more genuine; to try and be exactly who I am; to stop hiding from under my hat and from inside my baggy pants, and from behind my driver's license which lies and says I'm taller than I am. Just as I don't think Mormons should be afraid of who they are and what Mormonism is and has been, I shouldn't be afraid of who I am.
None of us are perfect. We can't be. Does that make us un-loveable? Does being imperfect make us abnormal? Do our scars and our bruises and our emotional traumas take away from our pretty eyes and our good-to-the-core souls? Hell no. It's what makes us human. And there's nothing wrong with it. Humanity is beautiful.
So can we all take off our masks? Can we all begin to accept ourselves and to love every part of ourselves? If we keep on sugar-coating, we'll soon run out of sugar. And that's just going to make everyone mad!
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Thursday, August 9, 2012
It's been 13 months since my mom took her life. And while I wish her a world of happiness and love, I have seen my own life start to slip. As much as I haven't wanted to admit it, or face it, this past year has taken its toll. I've been able to play the strong, can-do-anything type. At times, I even convince myself. But there are sooooo many mornings, afternoons, and evenings, when I look at myself in the mirror, and feel like I am weak and that I'm failing.
I used to be a gym rat. And not in a bad way. I loved the gym. I loved a good workout, and I knew how to be a gym rat, without it affecting the overall balance of my life. I used to really care about my health; I wanted to look good and, more important, I wanted to feel like I could conquer the world if I had to. This has definitely changed. I lack the drive, until I start feeling too fat. Even then, it's been tough for me to workout consistently. And I make all kinds of excuses: I'm too busy with school; I'm too busy watching Jericho; I don't feel good; I need to get into better shape so I can workout. (SO LAME!!!) I did well last week; 3 good workouts. This week? Zero times in the gym. I guess I can count a mountain bike ride this morning and 2 loads of hay hauled with my dad. But that's more out of necessity; any physical benefit was purely incidental.
I used to keep myself spiritually fit and tuned. I never used to let a Sunday morning go by without getting up early and getting out into nature to see God's creations through my camera's lens. And while I drove around, I'd be so spiritually filled while listening to my favorite Sunday morning music program: Living the Circle of Life. I haven't been out on a legitimate Nature Sunday Morning (the title I gave it) in 2 months. I used to be active in my church. Now, while that has changed for more philosophical reasons, I could always find some positives about being active in a church. Now, I'm pretty conflicted about it; having a hard time seeing past the bad and to the good. And I can feel my spiritual side fading and withering. This is actually more scary to me than not going to the gym regularly. I mean, this is my spirit; this is ME I'm talking about losing. And yet, this blog post might be the first sign of any want of change.
I took the 2nd Summer block away from school because I felt like I would have a nervous breakdown if I didn't. And I don't regret that decision. I believe I most certainly would have cracked otherwise. But now, Fall Semester is looming and I've not applied for my financial aid and I've not registered for classes, and I've not bought any books. (I always have my fallback plan, which is just show up to the classes I want and I'll probably get in via an add card.) Now, while this works, it's ALWAYS a huge pain in the ass. And yet, I do this same routine nearly every semester. Do any of you have some 'gung ho' you'd like to sell me?
Having decided to dump all of this, finally, in the open, I wonder if I'm actually cut out for some of my supposed ambitions. Mainly, I wonder if I'm actually fit to be the director of the support group I started this past January. I mean, these poor, broken-hearted individuals count on me to be the strong one; to lead us all through our grieving processes. And I want to; I do. I want to be the guy who can get that done and who can keep it up, more importantly. This past month, I've gotten so many emails from new people who want to attend support group because they've recently lost someone. My heart aches for them and, just as much, my heart longs to find a solution to stopping suicides from happening. One thing at a time, Wade. One thing at a time. I love the group I run and the other group I sometimes attend. They're extremely helpful, to say the least. But, reality is still reality, and sometimes my reality seems like too much. I was just thinking today about all of the death I've been around this past year and it's super depressing. A month ago, a friend of mine was stabbed to death here in my town. Complete shocker. Yesterday, a former high school classmate was killed; hit by a train while trying to free his ATV from the train tracks. Another former classmate pass a year or so ago by accidental overdose. And another by heart attack. (At 35 years old, no less!!) While none of these deaths are significant in comparison to losing my sweet mom, this overwhelming number of deaths is wearing on me. It needs to stop!
I miss my mom so terribly sometimes. And that's good. It actually makes me feel good about myself that I can miss my mom. I love my mom and I know she loves me. It would be amazing if she could enter my dreams on a semi-regular basis. So far, just once. And that was a real gift. And I'm grateful.
There, have I depressed anyone else yet? Ha. Not trying to, but thanks for letting me dump my emotional crap over you all.
There certainly are positives in my life, and these are the things I fight on for. I'm getting closer to graduating with my BS degree in Biology and then on to P.A. school (I hope.) I do enjoy learning and I am excited to have a profession in healthcare; I'm passionate about medicine and more so about people. I have a beautiful wife who works so hard so that we can live and I can study full time. And we make a great team. We're not perfect, but we're perfectly committed to each other and that's what counts. We have a 3 year old son and he is truly my life. He is my motivation when all else fails. I want to give that kid everything in the world. I have my dad and he is so great. He really is an inspiration to me and I find him taking care of us, more than we probably deserve. I am surrounded by people who love me; the kind of people who I say are the best kind of people in the world. These are my friends and extended family. Even those with whom I'm not especially close. If you're a blogger friend or a facebook friend or a school friend or a work friend or whatever, I love you and am so grateful to have all of you in my life.
Anyway, I hope I didn't bore too many of you with this post, or send any of you into the same funk in which I often find myself. Thanks for reading. Life will go on and I will try my best to make it go on beautifully.
ABOUT THE PHOTO: Well I did get out and enjoy nature this past Monday. I had been driving home from a family reunion and started to get really drowsy, so I decided to pull off the road and take a short hike to wake back up. The short hike turned into a 3 hr hike, on which I found a great little bonus; a 6pt. elk antler. The hike was beautiful.