Sunday, July 27, 2008

Inspiration from Kevin Costner?

I had a rough night at the Temple this week. Usually when I enter the doors it is like passing through a veil and I can forget the world outside for awhile. Quickly tranquility and white clothes take over both body and spirit and those few hours refresh and renew the good side of life. Well it didn’t happen this week. My mind got clogged up with the thin trappings of everyday minutia and it was a struggle to keep focused. Petty hurts, silly worries, and useless fears occupied my mind and sapped my spiritual energy. When it came my turn to say longer phrases in key ordinances I stumbled as my mind race all over the game board of crazy ideas.
When I got home I tried to settle down the random play of thoughts and couldn’t get to sleep. When that happens I usually tune into the late night comedy of Frasier, but that night I watch Leno for some reason and something interesting happened. Leno was interviewing Kevin Costner and Kevin told this story. He was filming in Washington D.C. and had a day off of work. He signed up for the White House tour and while on tour the guide recognized him and before the tour ended he was invited to go meet with the president (Bush Sr. at that time). They visited for a while and then went and had lunch together, then the president invited him to a game of golf, and then dinner, and then a dip in the pool. Costner was amazed at spending nearly 8 hours with the President in casual activities. Then the president told him that he was leaving early in the morning to fly to France to address the French Parliament in a key speech on international affairs. Costner asked him how could he afford spending a day screwing around him when he had this important event the next day. The president said that “Focus” was the key. Today was his play day and he felt lucky to have spent it with Costner. Tomorrow was a work day and things will work out. The important thing was to not let the unimportant issues overlap with the important one and visa versa. I had blown it in the temple by letting the unimportant stuff cloud out the good stuff and vowed to not let it happen again.
To live up to my new commitment, on Saturday I made sure while working to clean up the house for a missionary BBQ, I took some well needed time to relax and do something fun. I got to go hiking with Dave, Danica, Jensen and Lily; while mom took her horseback riding lessons. It was a wonderful break and the missionary BBQ turned out just fine. Life is sweet – especially when you have cute grandkids around.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer BBQ greeting

It has been a pretty dull week as to things to make an interesting blog. Even my two dives at the Aquarium were rather routine. I dove with this guy that you instantly dislike within 10 seconds. He was talkative, boastful, thinks he knows everything, tells you how to spell your own name and does most everything wrong. We did the fresh water tank that can be very tricky because the fish are really hungry and they will bite when you feed them. The aquarium didn’t have any available steel mesh gloves for our dive and I was concerned. He bragged, no problem for him, he knows how to feed the fish carefully and smart so that you didn’t need to use gloves. I said OK you can feed the fish while I’ll wave to the kids and play rock-paper-scissors. He then said that I should just watch him and learn how to do it right. I asked him how long he had been diving at the Aquarium and how many times he had dove the fresh water tank. He said a couple months diving and once before in that tank. I told him I would be happy to learn from the master of Aquarium diving. It took us a while to get started because he forget his weight belt and then forget his mask, but I was learning. And you guessed it – after the dive he had bite marks all over his fingers from feeding the fish. He explained it away because the fish were angry because there were two divers in the tank. You just smile inside and are glad that you don’t have to spend one second longer with the guy than you have to.

We did do a fun missionary event last Saturday. We invited our Chinese friends and Danica’s real estate agent and wife over for a BBQ. We had a blast with everyone. Best of all Danica’s real estate agent (Bob) mentioned some positive things about the church and we have invited him back next week for Sunday dinner with the missionaries. We’ll try and get them to take the missionary lessons.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Pictures from July in Utah

Becoming Mr Magoo

Mom was funny in church today. They just finished resealing the cultural hall’s floor and the entire building smelled like noxious fumes of paint and varnish. Mom couldn’t stand it. It was so bad that she grabbed one of my old dark socks she had found and covered her mouth and nose with that smelly sock to block out the toxic floor fumes. It was so humorous to see her sitting in church singing the opening hymn with her face covered with this long dark sock. It got worse when during the sacrament her cell phone rang and everyone turned to see her grapple with the phone while she kept the sock held closely to her mouth. Needless to say we came home from church a little early. I wish I had a picture.

I’m not doing so well myself. I went into the eye doctor and he pronounced a death sentence upon me – I have to wear Bifocals. That sounds so, so, so old and feble. It means that all the work I’ve done to stop the harsh realities of the old age freight train, it going to hit me anyway. We all know that we’re going to be hit by the bummer news, but to have it announced and written down in a prescription, ouch. He could tell it crushed me to cross that line into using Bifocals, but he said they can make the line disappear and so the only way people would know you have old lady glasses is when you weave your head up and down to see far then near then far then near again.

Sentencing me to Bifocals has caused me to reflect and conclude that old age is now engaged in a full frontal attack on my body. From head to toe there is some area under assault which requires me to employee some stupid and expensive defense mechanism. For the top of my head where I use Rogaine to keep my hair and dye to stave off the grey devils that make me look older than I am to the Athlete’s foot cream to keep the skin on my toes. Some very kind person named an infection of Ringworm as Athlete’s Foot. I like the fact that any part of me is described with the word Athlete. It gives the allusion of youth, beauty, and strength. Much better than that worm name, which is never confused with muscles or sport’s achievement.

To add to the pain of growing old, my neck muscles are rebelling in great pain as I hunch over the computer screen to read the small print. Yesterday eye doctor suggested putting everything on 150% font size to alleviate the stress on back, neck and eyes. What’s the next step using a cane to help me on the racquetball court. The trouble is – the larger font size really does help. So does this ridiculous brace I’m wearing on my arm to reduce the tennis elbow pain. I realized I needed something when a sweet little 82 year old widow nearly brought me to my knees a while back when I shook her hand because I was suffering from tennis elbow. She did apologize for causing me pain; but it isn’t the pain it’s the embarassement of being bested by a 90 pound octogenarian.

There is a whole list of maladies I could rummage over but I think it is time for my nap. It gives my body strength to fight off the aging process.

Part of my letter to Austin

I've included part of my letter to Austin here because is tells a personal story and I thought it would be a good Blog contribution.

Dear Austin,

We looked at the calendar yesterday and made a discovery. You are just completing the third quarter of you mission. Congratulations!!! That is the toughest part. I got to watch some of the Olympic swimming trials. You know I love swimming and to watch elite athletes race is thrilling to me. I look for two key parts to the race. That would be the third quarter and the last 15 feet. The third quarter is always the toughest no matter how long the distance. The adrenaline from the start is over and the grueling work of mastering the race really starts at the half way point. Fatigue settles in as you try and work oxygen deprived muscles to put out more and also save some juice for the end of the race. It is both a body and head game during the tough third quarter. In so many races that is where the eventual champion shows how mentally tough they are as they begin to pull away from the field.

I remember writing to both Celeste and Tiana about the importance of the third quarter of their missions. Disappointments and obstacles seemed harder to overcome during the third quarter. I’m so please that as you have nearly completed your third quarter it seems like you have only gotten stronger. You seem full of energy and commitment to apply all the experience you’ve gained to further the work. There didn’t appear to be any let up over the past 6 months which is fantastic. Either you hid it well or you choose not to let it drag you down. Either way that is the mark of a champion and it establishes you so well to do the next important thing which is to finish hard and fast.

As important as the 3rd quarter, the finish is absolutely critical to success. When I coached the championship swim team in British Columbia the summer before my mission, we had lost every meet against this team from North Vancouver. Going into the second and final day of the Provincial Championships there was no mathematical way we could win enough points to win unless we had a miracle. I got the team together just before finals and told them to remember one thing – finish the last 15 feet so fast you end up in the gutter. It is the key to the entire race, that last 15 ft. It’s only 15 feet and dig down deep inside to wrench your guts out in glory as you steam into the wall. Head down you go for it. I told them that during my Sophomore year in college, at the conference championships, I had swam the fastest 400 IM of my life all the way to 398 yards, but I relaxed for the last two yards and my teammate, Doug Rosborough, touched me out by 6/100’s of a second and set a new school record. I had been ahead of him until 6 inches from the wall. He broke my old record. I was so crushed and I have swum that stinking last 2 yards over a million times in my head, during my life trying to erase my relaxed finish, but it doesn’t wash away.

I told the team that if they would totally swim so fast over the last 15 feet we would win the meet and the provincial championships. I surprised myself with that prediction and was a little scared. But it started happening, in race after race our kids passed up one or two kids during that last 15 ft that we took home the championship trophy. I was going out of my mind as we ended up out scoring the other team by more than 50 points. My team carried me around a 50 meter pool and then threw me in the water. It was one of the most joyous days of my life and I still get heart flutters when I think about it. Compared to how I felt after the 400 IM at conference, I want the strong finish to be my legacy.

I’m telling you this so that you will leverage the hard work and spiritual experiences gained to finish your mission as a champion without letting up a stroke or being distracted by a nearing finish line. Love you son. Make your body tired, your voice raspy, and your companions weak from sprinting to that sad day when they pull your strained fingers away from serving the Lord in the Canadian mission field.