Saturday, September 24, 2011

The pursuit of happiness

Tonight in the Relief Society session of General Conference, President Uchdorf touched on the topic of being happy now- of finding joy in what is happening in our lives at the moment, and not holding out for one magical event to take us to the land of happily ever after. And as I listened, I realized that by and large, that's not something I have a problem with. I do agree with President Uchdorf's added caution that we deserve to always be working to improve ourselves and reach towards goals, but life is so good. And today was a great example of its goodness. This morning I got up at six in order to hike Deseret Peak with Emily, Trevor, and Trevor's friend Ben. We didn't actually get on the trail until shortly after nine, due to the fact that we left a little late and it was an hour drive from Sugarhouse. But Emily and Trevor and both very fun people to talk to, as Ben proved to be also. The hike was definitely strenuous, but so fun. We marked our pace by keeping far enough ahead of a scout troupe that we couldn't hear them coming up behind us. If they got within earshot (and since these are scouts we're talking about, it was a pretty long earshot), we'd get moving. Fortunately, everyone very kindly put up with my penchant for stopping to take note of the flora and foliage, and I even had Trevor and Emily eating wild currents and elderberries with me. After that, Ben was making jokes about the younger berries, filled with angst, that grow really well next to wild oats. Oh, dear. There was a small, unfortunate incident in which Trevor did a handstand and landed, flat on his back, in a patch of burrs. We then engaged in some social grooming, since wearing a pack with a back full of burrs would be incredibly painful. Of course, while Emily and I were pulling burrs off his shirt, the group of older men that we'd just passed caught up with us. We were quick to assure them that we don't normally engage in social grooming. We summitted at lunchtime, and had a fabulous 360-degree view of Salt Lake, Toelle, and the West Desert. We stood on the peak of a little island of green in a sea of brown, hostile environment, and out to the west, the salt flats were clearly visible. It's amazing what a change in elevation can do for the ecosystem! Also at the summit, we found small snow banks. Ben mysteriously disappeared from view and reappeared a short time later, with some snow, laboriously chipped from the hardened bank, to throw at Trevor. We were impressed by the amount of effort that went into that. On the way down, our main adventure was opting to more or less slide down a ravine rather than go around the longer, and flatter, loop in the trail. I managed to find about every hole in the ground, well concealed with foliage, and once I sneezed so hard I almost knocked myself over backwards. But it was a beautiful little ravine, and that's where we added wild raspberries to our cache of edible snacks along the way. We concluded our journeys with a sing-a-long in the car on the drive back. On our descent, I had been singing songs to myself (note to siblings: there was no dining room table present, so this was legal). Most of the songs were from musicals, which apparently put Trevor in a musical frame of mind, so he and I sang along to Les Mis, Wicked, Mary Poppins, and other great shows as we drove. Then tonight, after the Relief Society broadcast, we had an unusually quiet and comfortable evening at our house. Amy was gone, but the rest of us randomly congregated downstairs, and as Kerstin transcribed her grandma's old journals, Amber cleaned the bathroom, and Cassaundra did a workout, I sat at my sewing machine, working on yet another project, and thought about how nice it was to have everyone home, and all downstairs together. We are such a busy group of girls that our schedules very rarely line up like that, and it felt so domestic and homey that it brought a certain contentment and peace to my soul. It reminded me that I truly do love my life right now, and at the same time, that that feeling is my goal. Hopefully I'll get to experience it more in the not-incredibly-distant future by having my own home with my own family, but my roommates are my adopted family for now, and I love that we love and trust each other enough to feel that kind of kinship and peace in our home. That's a big deal. A lot of people don't get to experience that. So, President Uchtdorf, I agree that the importance of enjoying life where it's at is vital. And I feel incredibly blessed to have such a good one.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Just some musings

A day off! What a beautiful thing! I just spent a few happy moments weeding my yard and now my hands smell like mint. Mint is such an exuberant plant, it grows all over the place, and it smells so nice. I also ate some cherry tomatoes and observed that my paste tomatoes are coming in nicely, so a batch of tomato sauce might be in the works soon. And I dug up the first of the rainbow mix carrots- orange, red, and white. Gardening is always a learning experience. For example this year I learned what I suspected but failed to act upon- the west side of the house is just a little too shady to provide sufficient light energy for fruit crops. Things like beets, greens, and carrots don't take nearly as much energy as things like watermelon, pumpkins, and cucumbers, because the latter are all reproductive structures. They take a lot of energy to create, and plants get that energy from sunlight. Carrots, on the other hand, are a vegetative crop, meaning it's just a part of the plant and the plant isn't making the carrot to produce seeds. So it takes a lot less energy. So next year, the vines will be going in the sun-filled backyard and the carrots will be going in the more shady west side of the house. But then the tomatoes will be moved, too, because tomatoes drain a lot of nutrients out of the soil, and I'll probably put beans in their place, since beans actually return nutrients to the soil. See? There's so much to it- I love it! I had a dream last night that I was flying to Rwanda but I was completely unprepared. Oddly, the thing I was most concerned about was that I didn't have a guidebook with me. This is pretty standard for me to have strange dreams before big events, but this seems to be a little early- we're just under twelve weeks out from Africa. But things are starting to solidify. I have a traveling companion now- my friend Brian's sister Molly. I have my yellow fever vaccination card. I can't wait to see Grace and her daughter Kelly. I feel like I'm teetering on the edge of a change. I don't know what it is, but something in me is holding back somehow. I'm pretty sure I know the reasons why, but something- something is going to happen soon, and I think it will be good. Life is always good. Life is always a constant adjustment to find the balance that works for a particular moment in time. And life is not linear, as much as we try to make it out to be.