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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lessons from 5 Sages: 3 Doors Down, Buddha, Elder Wirthlin, C.S. Lewis, and Lady Gaga

It's been a while since I've written, and a lot of things have come to my mind lately. But these three things have stood out the strongest lately. And as I was thinking about them today, I realized that they are all connected.

The first is the song "If I could be like that" by 3 Doors Down.

I love the lyrics. They're piercing.

He’s spent his whole life being too young
To live the life that’s in his dreams
And then he lies awake and he wonders
Why can't that be me?

'Cause in his life he is filled 
With all these good intentions
He's left a lot of thing
He'd rather not mention right now

Just before he says goodnight
He looks up with a little smile at me
And he says

"If I could be like that 
Well I would give anything
Just to live one day
In those shoes"

If I could be like that
What would I do?
What would I do?

Now in dreams we run

She spends her days up in the north park
Watching the people as they pass
And all she wants is just a little piece of this dream
Is that too much to ask?

With a safe home and a warm bed
On a quiet little street
All she wants is just that something to hold on to
That's all she needs

If I could be like that 
Well I would give anything
Just to live one day
In those shoes

If I could be like that
What would I do?
What would I do?

I'm falling into this in dreams
We run away

If I could be like that 
Well I would give anything
Just to live one day
In those shoes

If I could be like that
What would I do?
What would I do?

How many times in my life have I felt like the boy at the beginning of the song, perpetually outside looking in, seeing my dreams just beyond my fingertips? 

How many times have I said those words to myself?

If I could be like that 
Well I would give anything
Just to live one day
In those shoes

It's almost heartbreaking to think of how long I've been waiting. Waiting for life to start. Waiting to be loved. Waiting to be happy. Waiting to be worth something. 

But the more I think about it, the more I believe that waiting is focused on the wrong thing. I've been waiting for ages for the outside world to fulfill internal needs. I need to love myself, and I need to live my life right now. Then I can have those days I've dreamed of.

I believe it was Buddha that said "Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without."

But it is one thing to understand that, and another to internalize it. 

I spent a lot of my life trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. Because if I was perfect for them, then they would love me. I would be lovable. And then I would be happy. 

But I was never perfect. And even when I got close, others never made me happy. 

I think that is something that many members of the church can relate to. It is in that light that I reference the late Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.

"Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.

"Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.
This variety of creation itself is a testament of how the Lord values all His children. He does not esteem one flesh above another, but He “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God.”

". . .Brothers and sisters, if only we had more compassion for those who are different from us, it would lighten many of the problems and sorrows in the world today. It would certainly make our families and the Church a more hallowed and heavenly place."

I have felt that way. Perhaps I always have. Especially here in Provo there is a false belief that the only kind of good person is a person that looks and acts and talks a certain way. Everyone feels the pressure to be that person, and no one ever becomes that person. Thus, Utah has made its way as the most depressed state in the nation. Because we never feel like we are enough. 

Yet, while we struggle, we send others the message that they're not enough. But true Christianity, true charity, means loving and accepting others, telling them that they're enough, even when they aren't perfect. Even if you completely disagree with them. 

That leads me to my final point. To begin, I'd like to reference this video:

Yup, that's Lady Gaga. Or, Stefani Germanotti, to be exact. The resemblance is definitely there, but something changed between the salad-eating days and the days of international stardom.

Had we been a customer in that restaurant we would have looked right over her, passed her right by. She seems a girl of no consequence, someone who won't amount to much. Dare I say she even looks borderline frumpy (my sincere apologies to all the disciples of Gaga who find that blasphemous).

If we had stopped and spoken to her we may have learned that she was a struggling musician, that she played night clubs waiting for her big break, but we probably wouldn't have really believed that she would become something great.

But here she is today:

Who knew that within the seemingly inconsequential girl of Stefani Germanotti was a person that would send a ripple throughout the world, influencing others with her music, and becoming an international icon?

No one knew. And that's the point.

Within each and every one of us is someone that can change the world. Each of us has a message for the people of this earth. Each of us has something of value, and if we let that out, we can do incredible things.

C.S. Lewis said:
"There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendors."
"It is a serious thing," says Lewis, "to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship."

We have limitations and obstacles, of course. But greatness and happiness are within our grasp. Perhaps we are waiting, dreaming of the day that we can live "in those shoes." But we don't have to. We don't have to be lost, feeling like outcasts. Because peace comes from within, so does power. So does joy. So does confidence and security and faith. We are mighty beings, kept from reaching our great potential simply by our own self-doubt. 

But if we can overcome that doubt, that fear, we can become great. We can change the world. And greatest of all, we can be happy.


Joe Conflict said...

Great post. I loved those words by Elder Wirthlin. Perhaps more true than he knew...

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