Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Jules Verne Experience

It started with a book, and then there was a blog, and then a friend inspired by the book inquired about a blog. I'm pretty sure it didn't quite go as it was planned, but here I am embarking on the journey (even though technically the idea was directed at moi. 80 days to get around the world: how do I do it?

My first thought when I think about this, is eighty days: that's like the jet lag that never ends.
So the first thing I thought about is how to make this into a vacation instead of just a task.
I'll try to share what makes each place work, and a little bit of insight into how and why I got there, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time researching all the details that I would need to actually take the trip.

Day 1: Salt Lake City Utah to Seattle Washington.
This is basically just practical. Its a nice slow start, but I get to go someplace I've never been.
I'd love to see the sights of the city, but I'm just there for a glimpse.

Day 2:
After a somewhat leisurely morning, and perhaps a quick trip to the museum,
I take a short flight to Canadia. It's a relatively short flight, just over 400 miles, in a north-northwest direction. The plane lands at the Canada's own Jasper National Park.

Days 3 -9: For the better part of seven days I would then work my way from the top of Jasper to the bottom of Banff (also a NP). I imagine I'd take a nice horseback ride through some of the most breathtaking mountains in the world, stop to take in the lakes and the waterfalls. We might travel by boat, and maybe by small plane, but I imagine that most of this phase would be done with a car, maybe a lincoln, they're incredibly comfortable (but not mine, it's feeling sick right about now, and I haven't decided whether I should shoot, or nurse it back to health).

Day 9: Fly south to Glacier National Park
Day nine is really just a continuation of Day's 3- 9, but it happens on the US side of the border. It has always been a goal of mine to travel to Glacier NP, well at least as long as I can remember (maybe ten years or so, plus or minus five... ish). It's one of the perfect spots in the trip for some camping.

Days 10-13 GNP.
It's definitely one of the places that I want to spend some time. It seems very awe-inpiring.

Day 13 Fly to Yellowstone,
Oddly enough, I don't think I've been there (at least not since I was old enough to remember it, I heard that we went when I was young).

Day 14 Yellowstone to Pigeon Forge Tennessee.
In the spring of 2004 my family stumbled upon the most amazing city in the world: there's a miniature golf course on every corner! I'm not kidding. So in the evening after I had settled in my hotel, I'd definitely play the back nine of a course or two.

Day 15
More mini-golf, and lots of relaxin'. Maybe I'd even talk a little hike through the mountains: the Great Smokey Mountains. And maybe it would be a nice day for a little bike ride, and then in the evening perhaps a little more mini - golf, if I'm not tired of it yet. Ü.

Day 16 Pigeon Forge to Boston MA
In fifth grade I did my state report on Massachusetts. Ever since I've kind of had an affinity for the place. Admittedly this is not a major stop, but a nice place with a lot of history.

Day 17 - 18
Leisure time in Massachusetts: visiting some of said places with history. Probably involving a carriage ride, just because I can.

Day 19 - 23 Greenland
On the morning of the 19th day I would fly from Massachusetts (or somewhere near there) to the edge of Greenland (the bottom edge). Greenland is primarily a stop of convenience, but while I'm there, I plan to make the most of it. Maybe some whale watching, and a little helicopter ride from one part to the next.

On day 24 phase one of my journey would complete as I fly from Greenland to England, and sleep!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Pinnacle of Perfection

President Spencer W. Kimball said that we should look for a spouse that reaches as near the pinnacle of perfection as we can find. But how do we know if we're being too picky.

Clearly only one person has ever achieved the status of perfection, but all the rest of us fall short, often very short. I wouldn't even begin to imagine what sins or mistakes Nephi must have made, and yet he exclaimed "Oh, Wretched man that I am!" He had his problems, The fact is we all do.

The question I have to wonder about is how do we define that person not at but near pinnacle of perfection?

It's funny how our paradigms get set. How they shift, and how they stay the same. Sometimes they are set as it were in stone, and sometimes even when we think we know what we want we end up going a different direction.

So how did we get these paradigms and ideas? Were they something someone gave to us? Did we find them lying in the street, or did we grow them like seeds, in the gardens of our minds hearts? Perhaps we create them. It could be we create them without even knowing?

Often times we like the things with which we are most familiar. This being the case, those people who we grow up around, and who impact our lives have a good chance of being a part of our paradigms. Sometimes though, these paradigms become a little too rigid. In the grand scheme of things I really believe that it doesn't really matter what we choose to do with our lives,
but more that we do something, and that we do it to the best of our abilities. I believe that the way we do things is as important if not more, than many of the things that we may choose to do. Don't get me wrong, I understand that people may get used to a standard of living, or other such things, and I think that's ok, but I guess I also believe that we live in a land and an age of opportunities. Many of our societal paradigms are tumbling all around us. Sometimes I think our paradigms could use a good tumble too.

There are some other ways that our definition or ideal could be created. Sometimes we hear something from a friend. Sometimes we hear things from what some might call a good friend (others might call it a TV). Sometimes we create paradigms just by talking about what we think we want.

Regardless of the paradigms we end up with, it seems very unlikely that someone else will share them exactly. It seems even less likely if we have too many of them, that someone will actually meet them all.

Now I don't think it's bad to know what you want, and I think it's great when a person understands themself well enough to know what works for them, but I also think it is possible for us to lose focus on the things that really matter most.

People used ask President Kimball what they should look for in a spouse and on occasion he would say something like this: 'Find someone like mine and you'll do alright.'
Sometimes when I look at his wife that seems a pretty tall order, but then when I look back through life I realize that there have been quite a few people that I have known that would probably meet that standard. Sure there may not always be a ton of them, but there always seem to be some. And I would imagine that there are probably more than we would think.
and sometimes they are closer than even we could imagine.

If we ask the right questions, we will probably get the right answers,
if we ask the wrong questions, we may still get answers, but a good old fashion paradigm could prevent us from understanding the answers that we get.

I guess sometimes we just need an open mind a willingness to try,
and of course faith, lots and lots of faith.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Weak Things Become Strong

I was surprised. A friend told me she thought I could talk to anyone. I didn't know what to say. Ironic I know, but I was speechless. Talking has never been my strong suit. I mean I get nervous around people, well I used to. I still do somewhat, but I guess I never noticed how much I have changed.

I remember in high school, it wasn't my strength back then.

And then when I went on my mission, I thought I was pretty good,
You know, until one lady said "Elder Warner, you can talk!"
I was as surprised as she was, of course I could talk. Surely they had heard me.
But to this day, those Philippine women still maintain that something happened to me on Cyprus;
something broke me out of my shell.

But the shell wasn't broken, at least not completely. Many times since then I have looked out and said,
wow, what is my deal? Why can't I communicate? It sounds so good in my head. And usually it does.
But letting it out, that's a whole different story.

Still I can see that I've changed. Sure I still get nervous around pretty girls and such, but I am getting better. I have a lot of friends, and a lot of good conversations. I can see my weakness becoming stronger, and I like it. Sure I still wish I was better, but I guess I am on the right track.

I thought it would be interesting to share some of the tidbits I have gleaned about communication.
So hear it goes.

Like all good things it takes practice.
I asked my dad once, how he did it. He seemed to know everyone, and everyone seemed to like him. I knew it was a gift, but I didn't know that he had to earn it. I practically fainted when he said he used to be shy. If you've ever met my dad, you can probably understand, nobody's used that word to describe him in a long, long time.
Still he told me it was so, and he told me how he fixed it. He said 'One day I decided that I would set a goal: I would introduce myself to five new people every week at church, and before you know it, I knew the whole ward.' He started with a solid resolve to become a friend to those around him, and he never looked back. Some people find it hard to believe that he knows 1000's of people on a personal and friendly level, but I don't find it hard to believe at all. He's been at it for a long time, and not just because he's older but because he practices. He has made it a habit to be a friend, and to talk with people. I guess in someway I've picked this up too. I try to be a friend, and I think I'm getting better.

It's strange but sometimes the simple things leave the biggest impact.
I remember this girl, I used to pass her everyday, and as we passed she'd turn and say "Hello, sir." I'm not sure why she used the 'sir,' but it was funny, really funny, and it always brightened my day. We didn't need to stop and talk for hours, it was just a simple 'Hi,' still every time, the impact was huge. It always left me with a smile. I learned that sometimes it doesn't take too much, just let people know that you are happy to see them. A smile, a wave or simple hello, they're all simple gestures, but more often than not, I bet they do more than we know.

It is more important to communicate with people than with words.
Used to be, I was just a little thing (6 foot nothin' or so), but I had a huge vocabulary. I've always loved words, and there were always plenty of new ones to love. My parents tend to use some really good words, but it's never been a problem to ask what they meant. I got to the point where I knew a lot of words, but I still didn't really know how to communicate. It was strange, I had the tools, but I wasn't a builder. When I got older I developed new and different vocabularies. I began to specialize in things and learn the vocabularies that were pertinent to the various subjects that I liked. And all of this was good. I still wish I knew more words, and that my vocabulary had greater depth in a larger variety of fields, but somehow through the course I learned a very interesting lesson: It is more important to communicate with people than with words. It doesn't matter how good the word is if nobody is going to understand. It doesn't matter how much you know about something, if your audience doesn't care about the subject. If the audience loses interest, it doesn't matter what you say.

Some years ago a friend helped me to understand that the people I'm talking with are often more important than the things that are said. Without even pausing to say hello, already I was asking for his help. What I needed was important, but it wasn't more important than he was. He helped me understand that he was glad to help, but it's always nice to know that we care. The more people know that we truly do care, the more they tend to really care too. Whatever we say becomes much more important when we put other people first.

A friend in need is a friend indeed
Sometimes people need a friend. Not a pseudo-friend, or an acquaintance, but a genuine, bona fide friend. I have a friend who is so good at this. I've seen them drop everything, to help me in my time of need. Sometimes they just sat with me and sometimes they just listened. I learned that words are amazing if you use the correctly, but listening can be amazing too.

Speak once listen twice think a lot.
To paraphrase Ben Franklin, It is better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Now Ben Franklin was not a man of few words, but he was careful with his words. I don't believe that his message was to keep our mouths shut, but rather to think about the things we say. Ironically enough, the more we listen, the better our talking becomes. Sometimes we talk too much (yeah I'm guilty too), but we don't say anything. The more I think about it the more I believe it: We should listen as much or more than we speak, and we should think about the things that are said, both by us and by those around us.

I guess it's true, weak things can become stronger. I'd like to believe that I'm moving that way. I hope my friends know how much I care, and I hope that I can continue to make more friends, and especially to build them. I may not always be the communicator the could, and yes sometimes I get nervous even with my friends, but I think the shell is breaking, and the Lord is helping my weak things to be a little stronger.

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ugly Girls (don't shoot the messenger Ü)

There seems to be a lot of ugly girls. It's true, everywhere I turn I hear "I'm not pretty." or "I'll break your camera." or "I hate to be in pictures." Now I hear these things because I take a lot of pictures, both because of my church assignments, and for my own personal memories. But not only when I'm taking pictures, I hear it all the time. Seriously though, how come everybody is so UGLY?

I mean, I'm glad they say something, or I might continue in my uninformed ways, I might actually think they were pretty or something. What a tragedy. I'm also especially glad that I don't ever say it. I'd hate to be shot down by ugly tongue words from an their ugly mouths.

I did say it once: I said "wow, you look nice." And I'd have repeated my mistake if her good friend hadn't saved me. What I didn't know was that my words were a sword. And every time I spoke I cut this girl down. My saying how nice she looked, only proved that she was ugly all the times that I said nothing.

And then there's that other thing. You certainly can't tell a girl that she is attractive. If you do, then you of course are superficial (besides you have to say it a lot if you want them to believe you, because let's face it, everybody knows they are ugly). And if you do say it, and even if they do believe it to some degree or another, they'd rather that you tell them they are smart and other things that "they have control over."
It would be so much easier if I could just accept the fact that women are ugly, and yet some how I can't.

You would think as often as they say so, that by now I could listen, but I guess I'm a little contrary. I still think they're wrong. I still think I could prove them wrong, if I really had a chance.

Maybe it's the Greek in me that says I have to argue, or maybe it's the artist, that has to look for beauty, or maybe it's the ego, that thinks I could fix it help them get past it. Or maybe its just hope. Hope that one day there will be no ugly women. But then again, I'm struggling enough with the ugly ones, I could only imagine how it would go if they weren't. ;)