Thursday, April 7, 2011

Roll round with the year, and never stand still

Like a lot of things in my life, blogging seems to come and go in cycles. I often will think up little anecdotes and stories that I can't wait to post, but then when there's actually time to do so, which isn't often these days, I've lost the phrasing that made them sound so elegant and articulate, if I can remember what I wanted to write in the first place.
I'm not even sure why I'm making time tonight. By rights I should be in bed. I left for work this morning at a quarter after seven, learned how to culture peripheral blood, quantified DNA, scored cells labeled with fluorescence in situ hybridization, and hybridized microarrays until about 4:20, swam from 4:50 to 5:40, got soaked in the slush storm walking back to my car, went to Temple Square, and sat in the recording studio with my crocheting until class started at 7:25. I got home at 10:00. This is a very standard day for me right now on Tuesdays and Thursdays at least. Going to bed is a luxury. But I felt compelled to write something tonight.
In my swim class, I regularly marvel at the drastic change in ability I've seen in myself. When I began this class at the beginning of February, I swam one length -25m- at a time and stopped to breathe hard after each one. I was pretty proud of the 600m I swam back then. Today I went to class and did four lengths in a row with barely a pause in between. I completed 1300m total. And I wasn't nearly as winded when I was done. I tend to push myself quite hard- Mel swims with a lot more deliberation, really focusing on the technique, where I tend to attack it more head on, like something to be conquered. I'd love to find a place somewhere between our two approaches.
I've noticed a lot lately that the years of dance instruction I took as a child still impact my muscle memory habits regularly, which is interesting to me. By no stretch would I ever have called myself a ballerina, but when I stand in rehearsal to sing, I find myself alternating between mostly third and fifth position, sometimes second. Then I'll realize that I'm standing on one turned-out foot and pointing the toe of the other in front of me, to the side, to the back. Then I'll be doing a very subtle releve and plie (going up on my toes and bending my knees). I was in a running class a few weeks ago and the instructor was having us do backward lunges. He watched my lunges narrowly for a minute and then asked "are you a ballerina? You're going into pointe when you raise your leg in front of you."

The interesting thing to me is that I don't think about any of this. My body just does it because of some training I had well over a decade ago- some of it over two decades ago. It's habit, it's memory built in to me.

I started reading President Monson's biography (on the biking machine, about my only available reading time right now), and one of the main themes woven throughout is how Thomas Monson's whole life has trained him to habitually serve, give, and inspire. He doesn't think about it, he doesn't make calculated plans- he has just been so imbued in a culture of giving and serving, from his childhood on up, that it's a habit. He gets a prompting, and his trained response is "yes. I will go and do." One thing that stood out to me more than any other when I watched his DVD biography (for lack of a better term) was towards the end when he says something to the effect of that when the Lord has an errand to be run, he wants the Lord to know that He can trust Tom Monson to do it. Something about that statement almost brings me to tears even now, just thinking about it.

How would it be to be so trained to respond to the guidance of the Lord that running errands for Him was second nature? That, like my pointed toes, I wouldn't even necessarily realize that I was doing anything out of the normal course? I want to be like President Monson.

Another thing I love about this man is that he, as his friends describe him, is larger than life. He is who he is and he doesn't apologize for it or try to make himself smaller in order to make others feel better about themselves. He just shines, and those who come in his path get shined on and feel better for it. This, in my mind is what real humility is- not false modesty or hiding under a bushel, but truly shining forth and acknowledging the source from whence the light comes. Using the light to reach out to everyone, that all may be edified.

Doesn't that sound great? Let's do it! Let's all be truly humble and shine forth like God intended for us to do! Hooray!

I must be truly tired- I started my rambles talking about my day and swimming, and I'm ending on a much higher plane. This is good. THe goal is always to go higher than I am. With quite a few sidesteps back to lower ground along the way. But always looking up.