This is not a public journal. There is no theme, agenda, or overall purpose. I need a reason to write and it needs to be well informed. I consider myself an expert in only one subject, my own thoughts. I am reflecting my experiences onto the internet because this seems to make them more beautiful to me, especially when they are idealized and inaccurate. This is not a mirror for me to see myself looking back, nor is it a mirror that reflects a detailed image of myself to others. This page is but a jumble of letters, words, and ideas that will be interpreted differently for each person, including myself. There are no mirrors because these thoughts are directionless, inaccurate, and fuzzy; a vague, splotchy reflection of McKinley.

Monday, January 3, 2011

One More Revolution

The Earth takes 365 1/4 days to circle around the Sun. This motion is called a revolution, yes it is a much less exciting, intense form of revolution. No guns, no death, no tyranny, no overthrow, no victory, just gravity. We aren’t really aware of it, though it is probably much more significant than any earthly revolution. A giant mass of matter traveling through space with all of us stuck to its surface.

This new years revolution is typically eventful (depending on the person I suppose). We celebrate the Earth’s accomplishment. Fireworks, parties, cheers, fun. As the Earth travels around the sun at about 30 kilometers per second we go right along with it. All 6 billion, 800 million and something of us experienced a revolution, together. What isn’t worth celebrating about that. We are still alive. We aren’t extinct. We have hope in the fact that all of us are celebrating together, if only at midnight. We are all stuck to this place as it spins around the Sun.

Though we celebrate for Earth it doesn’t rob us of all the excitement. It’s revolution actually means very little to us. For many people New Years is simply a good chance to party. There’s nothing revolutionary about it. For others it’s a time of reflection and personal revolution.

We made a distinction. In order to separate our rituals from the Earth’s. One letter needed to be changed in the word revolution. Why celebrate the same thing for two very different accomplishments. We just stood here, slept, socialized, and ate on top of the earth as it did all the work. Earth can take credit for it’s revolution. We who are stuck to its surface celebrate our resolution.

As I read from my journal under the date December 31, 2009 I am reminded of when I had New Years Resolution, inspired by the Earth’s Revolution.

This was my last day as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I left Fortaleza, Brazil in the afternoon and had a layover in São Paulo. My flight from São Paulo took off at 11:45pm. As my plane slowly gained altitude the Earth completed its revolution. I will never forget the aerial view of fireworks across the city of São Paulo. As I stared out my window there was a lot on my mind. I was leaving one home, heading to another. It ended how it began, my mission. It’s a poorly summarized story that changed my life. The most important experience of my 22 years.

It started leaving those I loved behind thinking “when will I see them again?” This is exactly how it ended. I got so comfortable around those I served. I felt at home on the streets of Fortaleza. I had become accustomed to that culture, more so than I was accustomed to my own. I didn’t quite know what to call “mine,” my home, my friends, my family, these definitions seemed to expand. As I stared into the splotchy, colorful sky after midnight I realized that there were a lot of Brazilians that I hardly knew. I didn’t know their favorite colors, or movies, what music they listened to, or everything else we consider knowledge about a person. I did not know them in the sense that we are familiar with, I knew them. They meant just as much to me as those I had known for years. You can spend years around the same people, with that stagnant air of old habits, but the strongest friendships don’t need time. Those that I came to love on my mission were the types of people you don’t need to “hang out” with to have a meaningful relationship. What holds the friendship together is the remembrance of our progress. We worked at strengthening each other. We knew when there was a need. We trusted. We prayed. We thanked. We laughed. We grew. All of this was done together, in a spirit of service. I learned one important lesson, this one I can summarize. There is nothing more fulfilling than service.

My Resolution. That particular revolution of the Earth stirred something deep within me. Maybe it was the fact that I was leaving one home and returning to another. Maybe it was the realization that my life was about to become more important to me. I was no longer able to worry about other people all day, every day. I had to start worrying about myself. That realization is what formed my resolution. This wasn’t a New Years Resolution, I was resolute to change forever. To continue to be close to God through service.

Though the lesson I learned is easy to summarize, it is NOT easy to learn. It’s one I had heard over and over again. It’s almost predictable that monthly in sacrament meetings, or every General Conference, someone will talk about service. But this lesson, that service is happiness, is only learned by doing.

Maybe I wasn’t so good at staying resolute. My resolution to serve must have been weak. The time following my mission has been like a self-serving vortex, it sucked me in. Like I’m in a fun house of mirrors that show me different versions of myself. Sometimes that's all I see is myself, in many different versions. I have to find my way out, sort through the reflective mirrors, or my resolution will quickly be replaced by my over-aware self. That lesson I once learned is becoming distant, it is fading. After only one more of the Earth’s Revolutions.

Now, with every New Years revolution I hope that I can remember that missionary resolution. High above the New Years fireworks of São Paulo reflecting on my service as a missionary. I was resolute. I need to re-learn that lesson I learned during those two years. Like I said, the only way to learn is by doing. My resolution this revolution; to serve (And actually do it).

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