- Our trials do not define us.
No doubt everyone has some issues with life; I would even be so bold as to say that having a "worry-free" life is an issue in itself. It's inescapable, just like some of our personal attributes. But I was taught this year that the two are very, very different. A personal problem is not part of one's personality. This life is meant to help us bring out our true character, and difficulties serve only as a catalyst. They help the process, but they stay very much separate from the parts of the reaction.
So what's the point of this lesson? For me, it means that when I wage war against the problems in my life, I'm not fighting myself. I'm fighting for myself. Identity is a very priceless thing, something that should not be disfigured by trials that attempt to clamp onto us and pose as appendages to our very soul. In short, by rising above your problems, you will find yourself, most assuredly.
- Life is best lived without self-interest.
Ah yes, one of the greatest counter-intuitive facts of life. We are born with a natural sense of self-preservation, and so we seek to improve our position in this world. But what happens when we let our mind fill with those thoughts of "what's in it for me?" I'm not saying that people who strive for personal gain do not find it on occasion, but there will be times when we simply do not get what we want. In our blindness, we revile our benefactors and complain that life is unjust.
To avoid becoming such whiners, we can instead devote our time to looking out for others. From personal experience, when I am worried for the sake of others, I manage to take care of myself subconsciously. And whenever I don't get something I was hoping for, it doesn't matter, since I still have the chance to fulfill the hope of someone else.
Then what happens when I can't help someone I truly care for? God willing, I'll have all of 2012 to learn that lesson.
- Communication is the greatest tool at our disposal.
I've been gifted with linguistic ability. I can be eloquent with my words, or I can be concise, but I can do very much with words. However, it does little to help others unless I use it to communicate. Despite my talents with language, I am also a pretty quiet fellow in real life. Nonetheless, I can communicate when I really need to, so it's not really a lesson saying, "Wow, I need to learn how to talk with people." It's more like, "Wow, I need to learn to talk with people."
For example, what I'm doing right now. Life has taught me many important things this year, but I haven't done much to share my ideas with others. So I'm using a blog to get the message out. I have many fantastic ideas on how to help others, and I have the means to share those ideas. It's only a matter of doing it, for the benefit of others (You'll see that many of these ideas overlap, but that's just a sign of linguistic genius).
- People are worth getting to know.
On the flip side of my brilliant ideas, other people have great experiences and insights to share with me. Communication is two-way, which means that listening is just as important as knowing what to say. And it's not just hearing what you want to hear. It's worth making the effort to acquaint yourself with the people you talk to. Everyone has their own identity, which I happen to think is their most valuable possession. And so it's about time I start acting like it when I converse with others.
The ironic thing is that I learned this lesson when someone showed me that I was worth getting to know. It's a marvelous feeling to know that my personal quirks and ideologies are actually interesting, and everyone deserves to feel it.
- Love is much simpler than we think.
I am an idealist, make no mistake. I am also a deep thinker. As such, my personal philosophies end up being very ornate. Even when they don't need to be. I'll have my own ideas, and then as soon as I hear someone else's opinion that sounds good, I'll mull it over until I can incorporate it into my worldview.
As for love, wow. For a long time, my thoughts on it were that it was something so pure it was chimerical. Virtually unattainable. It doesn't help that love is a hilariously vague word. You just look at all the Greek roots that mean different aspects of love (eros, philia, storge, agape...), but we just get the one word. Thanks, English language.
But really, does it have to be complex? When you say, "I love you," does it have to mean volumes? The core of love is unselfishness, that the other is worth your time, attention, and affection. If that's there, then sure, it can be called love. And despite the simplicity of the definition I give it, there is a lot of power behind knowing that it is indeed love.
- We are meant to learn from everything that happens to us.
This one has hit me on various occasions this year. The thing worth remembering about this little axiom is that before we learn, we are ignorant. Thus, there will be a ton of things that happen to us that we simply don't understand why. Nonetheless, each one of us has the incalculable blessing of learning, of taking what happens around us and using it to develop ourselves. And when we knock off our experiences as coincidences, we waste valuable opportunities to grow.
Is it hard to think this way? I will be the very first to admit it. But hey, I learned this lesson from something that happened to me, so it might as well apply to everything else that happens.
Wow, meta. Even I'm getting confused. Moving on...
- Laughter resolves our deepest problems.
I'm going on a limb saying this, since this is something quite outrageous to say. Sure, laughing makes you feel good, but I'm saying that laughter doesn't take your mind off your problems...it gets rid of them.
Now why would I say something so stupid? Because laughter reminds us of what's most important. It's a wake-up call that life is good, in spite of every little thing that messes us up. When we laugh, our problems are diminished by the idea that there is something much bigger than our trials, and it is freaking hilarious. And when our demons don't seem so big, they end up becoming quite manageable. So to quote one of those funny little wood carvings that I saw at a Barnes and Noble the other day, "Laugh. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. Shared laughter creates a bond of friendship."
- There is always room for hope.
Hope is a great way to conclude. Mainly because of how dang important it is; it's becoming a scarce commodity. From what I've seen, the world has enough people who are frustrated with life, enough people who have barricaded themselves from everything with cynicism, enough people who don't see the point in putting forth the effort, enough people who will not stop whining. On the other hand, there is always room for hope.
"And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise" (Moroni 7:41).We can hope in things less important that the big one, as defined above, and it may keep us afloat for a while, but we can't forget what's most important: that this life is not all that there is, yet it makes an incredible impact on what's to come. And our attitude is the greatest determining factor, so why be anything other than hopeful? Because it's not easy? Whatever. Just hope. You'll thank me later.But right now the clouds don't appeal to me / I feel like going home
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
I figure I should post my experiences of this concert before they escape me permanently. I got into the Flaming Lips my freshman year of college, when my roommate David introduced me to their 1999 album, The Soft Bulletin. My taste in music was still somewhat raw, but I recognized that songs like "Race for the Prize" and "The Spiderbite Song" were pretty dang entertaining. From there, I picked up the follow-up album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which stood out a little more to me. I like robots, you see. Before I left for my mission, I got two of their other albums, and after my mission, I snagged every used album of theirs I could find at Graywhale.
I love their music because they've reinvented themselves just about every album, but there's a glorified weirdness to it all. It's quirky, catchy, and very pensive at times. The Flaming Lips' music speaks to me, and it says some tripped-out things. So when I heard that the Lips scheduled a concert in Salt Lake for September 17, I had to be there. Two tickets purchased, immediately. It wasn't till later that I realized that this was the night of the BYU/Utah football game, which I had already bought a ticket for, but I decided, "BYU football is entertaining, but music is closer to my heart." I gave away my football ticket, called up David and told him I had a ticket for him to one of the craziest nights of his life (in retrospect, that was a brilliant move, as that game was hardly entertaining from a Cougar's perspective).
Now, I'd heard from the Internet some ridiculous things about Flaming Lips shows, things so crazy the Lips earned the title "One of the 50 Bands You Must See Live Before You Die." The infamous space ball comes to mind. But the Saltair didn't seem to be able to support such a show. It's a pretty big venue, but nothing compared to the arenas the Flaming Lips played on all those YouTube videos. Anyways, before the music starts, the lead singer Wayne Coyne comes to the stage. Cheering erupts. He warns the front row that their light show is extremely bright and strobe-oriented, so if anyone should feel a migraine or epilectic reaction coming on, that they look away or find a safer place to enjoy the concert. Also, Wayne confirmed that the space ball would make its appearance (yes!!) and that he would wander around the whole audience so that no one would feel inclined to stampede to the ball and cause any undue injury. So before anything, the lead singer of the band wanted us to know how to enjoy the concert to its fullest. Impressive.
The Lips opened with "Worm Mountain," my favorite track from their newest album, Embryonic. The severely distorted bass riff, the chaotic synth work, the overuse of crash cymbals, the psychedelic lyrics, the hyperbolic light show. All of it at once was jaw-dropping.David turned to me and whispered (he probably shouted it, but my ears were still ringing),
"Sensory overload." To which I responded,
"That was the first song."
And so it continued. They had plenty of variety in their setlist, balancing the rock-out songs with the breather tracks. I'll dig into my brain to recall what they played (songs that I wasn't expecting them to play but was really, really glad they did will be in bold):
She Don't Use Jelly
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Vein of Stars
See the Leaves
Is David Bowie Dying?
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
Pompeii am Götterdämmerung
What Is the Light?
Race for the Prize
Do You Realize??
What made the concert so enjoyable was that the band put their all into making sure we, as an audience, had the time of our lives. They played some of their most uplifting songs, and their theatrics did not disappoint in the slightest. That was definitely one of the top five concerts I've ever attended. And I've already said it more than once, the Flaming Lips may well be the band of the century. But only because I love hyperbole. Photos below.
[During an extended outro of "See the Leaves," Wayne puts on a pair of huge hands that shot lasers everywhere. The sinister synth line at the end of the song is really what made it so amazing.]
[An audience member dressed up as a rabbit and hopped on stage to give Wayne a hug. Seriously, what is there not to expect at a concert like this?]