Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lesson 5: Music and Me

Music has always played a big role in my life. My dad introduced me to classic rock and most 80s rock. I got into rap around middle/high school. But then came the 90s and alternative. Counting Crows, Better Than Ezra, LIVE, and 7 Mary 3 and others were forever sealed into my heart.

When it comes to music, most music lovers love the music. The melody, the beat, the riffs…that’s what makes it special. Of the bands I listen to, not many are pure music geniuses/innovators outside of maybe The Edge (U2) & Brandon Flowers (Killers). But they all have a common feature that I am very fond of: the lyrics. See, I lean on lyrics more than I do the music. That’s what makes it special to me.

Adam Duritz (Counting Crows) and Jason Ross (7Mary3) sing about very personal stories. Songs of love, dreams, anger, and sadness. Ed Kowalczyk (LIVE) often writes about spiritual things. It’s interesting to follow his career as his first album focused on agnostic feelings where as his last several albums have claimed faith and a love for God. You just need to listen to The Killers. I can’t explain.

And then there’s Bono (U2). He’s on another plane altogether. His lyrics have no central focus as he touches on several topics. When he writes love songs, they are about his wife. He writes on political issues—begging for change. His political driven songs send a great message: we humans are better than the status quo. We can and should fix these problems. He supports ending war (Staring At The Sun), hunger (Crumbs From Your Table), poverty (Where the Streets Have No Name), and murder (Sunday Bloody Sunday, Pride). There are plenty of U2 songs that send the same message that humans are better than what we are living our lives out to be.

Bono also takes personal stories from peoples' lives and turns them into classic greats. Take some lines from “Miracle Drug”: "I want to trip inside your head, spend the day there, to hear the things you haven’t said, and see what you might see. I want to hear you when you call. Do you feel anything at all? I wanna see your thoughts take shape and walk right out… Freedom has a scent, like the top of a newborn baby’s head." Chorus: "The songs are in your eyes, I see them when you smile. I’ve seen enough, I’m not giving up on a miracle drug." This song was written from a mother’s perspective that had a son with cerebral palsy and could not speak or move. Scientists were able to fix his neck and strap on a device enabling him to type. Turns out he had a lot to say. The second verse of the song only gets better.

Or lines from “Original Of The Species” "Baby slow down, the end is not as far as the start. Please stay a child somewhere in your heart." A song written about The Edge’s daughter growing up way too fast (from a father’s perspective).

Long blog, but lesson is: Search for powerful, uplifting, motivational lyrics that will inspire you to live a better life and make your time here on Earth more meaningful. "Love, love, love. Where the streets have no name" –U2

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lesson 4: Letting Go vs Going Off

There are times in life where push comes to shove and we humans give into the animal rage that is in our heart. It is important to try and tame that side as much as possible so as not to go to jail, have heavy fines, send someone to the hospital, end up in the hospital, have a record that prevents future opportunities, etc. But there's also times that you just need to forget about the consequences and take someone out. Just make sure you're not chasing a Hemi.

Example 1: On my mission I was confronted in an apartment by a guy that didn't want us knocking on doors. We explained to him we had the right and were going to do it. He then got angry and started yelling and following us. It was clear this would not work. So we went downstairs and started buzzing people on the intercom hoping someone would be interested. The man came down again and started yelling and basically said he would fight us if we didn't leave. He put down this hammer and sort of bucked up.

A million flashes went through my head. Namely, one where I rip this guy's head off. Then another flash entered of newspapers reporting a story of an LDS elder beating up a guy. Didn't think that would look right on us and it would hurt our efforts. So I backed off and we went our way. My companion was upset we didn't fight. I was too, but I knew it was one we had to let go.

Example 2: My friend Dustin and I were headed to the movies. Upon exiting the freeway at a light, the passenger in a Dodge Ram rolled his window down and seemed to be wanting to race me. I ignored him, besides, who would really want to race a Hemi against a 4 cylinder? As we continued, I took a right to head to the movies and the passenger flicked a coin at my windshield. Dustin said to turn around let's get them.So we chase them down flashing my lights until the stop. They pull up and have at least 4 guys in the truck. We exchange a few words, I was primarily making fun of them the whole time. Then the driver threw a coin at us. Dustin and I popped out of the car so fast ready to take them on. As soon as we did, he took off in reverse, turned around and floored it. They were gone. We were so mad. We looked for them for about an hour and a half after the movie. No luck. But this was one occasion where I was willing to let my fists teach some young punks a lesson.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lesson 3: Be Grateful for America

It's not a perfect country by any stretch of the imagination or propaganda that movies have put out. America is, however, the greatest country to live in, based on a system of government that allows freedom to prosper and a people that have a young, but rich tradition in pride, perseverance, and courage.

We are surely aware of the low-lights of society and American government televised on daily broadcasts by what some deem to call news. (I call it entertainment reporting, but that's a-whole-nother post.) We need to remember that these cases we see are the few and far in between. American society is full of great individuals that do the right thing on a daily basis. It is full of heroes with pot bellies and bald spots going out every morning to hard jobs just to keep their family fed and sheltered. America is surrounded by great mothers teaching their children values. There are plenty of examples of love that is ingrained into Americans' lives. Just look around.

The great principle behind our government is that it is self-correcting. It may swing too far to the left and too far to the right at times, but over time, the system works and self-corrects. What a beauty. Read history if you are unfamiliar with its operations and its rewards. Our system gives us freedom! Read the history/current issues of other countries if you think the whole freedom idea is exaggerated or non-existent. The freedoms we enjoy in this country have become second nature to us. In order to truly be grateful for America, it is vital to understand that those daily freedoms we enjoy simply do not exist in several of the world's nations. Read that previous sentence again. American government is great. Despite its flaws, it is the best government in the world.

Be grateful for America, its people, its government, its history, its future. Stand up for America. Do not feel guilty or bad about our culture and way of life. Be proud of it. Always be thankful for such a blessing.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lesson 2: Don't Be a Moron

This will be a repeated theme in future lessons. But the stories may be different. This example goes back to when I was about 9-10 years old during the Thanksgiving holiday. Our cousins were up from Florida and my brother Barrett and I were enjoying our time with them as usual.

We had an Atari (7800 I think) system with a particular game that my brother loved. The player flew a space craft through a planet bombing sites and shooting down enemy aircraft. This particular day, with the help of my cousin, Mike, Barrett had reached a level far from what he had previously done. It was a great moment of triumph that continued throughout the afternoon... until I was a moron.

As we were all watching the game--staring at the TV, I decided to scare them by hitting the pause button (located on the machine) and making them think for an instant that the game froze. Well, as I put my finger forth to hit the button I looked away and accidentally hit the power button. All progress LOST! These were the days before games saved progress automatically. I remember Mike and Barrett calling me out. Maybe there were more. They were quite angry and perhaps a little disturbed as to why I would even do that. I felt awful and was extremely embarrassed. Instead of telling them it was an accident, I just gave an embarrassed giggle. What a moron.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Lesson 1: Be Teachable

If there is an overarching criteria to living life at a high state of joy and understanding, it's this: Be humble. Be teachable. Be willing to learn, change, or adapt. I have embraced this concept at times and seen its benefits. Other times, I forget and lose out. There is certainly a struggle that I have experienced going back and forth with living this concept. Sometimes I am very open to learning from people while other times I don't give them time of day.

For me, if I don't have a pre-stamped respect for someone and their skill or train of thought or education, it is much more difficult to listen and learn. There are some people that yield instant respect, like my basketball coaches. I listened to them on every point they made. I was teachable. Eric Fossum is another friend and leader that could say anything pertaining to life, philosophy, politics etc and I soaked it in. I respected him and found it easy to be teachable around him.

But I fail when it comes to being taught by, say, a child. I fail to be teachable around someone that doesn't impress me instantly. That is where the lesson comes into play. We must force ourselves to be open to learn from anyone at any given moment. We must be teachable without a set of accolades from others' experiences and education. That's also the hard part, so let's do it together!! Then the other lessons of life will be easy to learn.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I have decided that my life's events are sometimes important enough to share. I aim to share learning experiences from which everyone can benefit. These will include life's lessons, sports experiences, business education etc. My true aim is to pass on knowledge to my kids and future grand kids. I want to help them know what I went through I why I thought and acted as I did. But if others stumble onto this website, maybe they will learn something of value that will contribute to a happier or better life.

I am just an average man, with aspirations, weaknesses, and life issues. I am middle American and will probably stay that way. But I love life and I love my life. So, if you like it, keep reading, if not, good luck to you. Enjoy!