Wednesday, January 22, 2014

One Size Fits All

Do you ever have one of those moments when you are in the middle of typing a facebook message, responding to a friend you haven't talk to in a long time and trying to make it meaningful and heartfelt when you accidentally hit enter before you were able to edit it? And then the smell of poop comes wafting up from under the computer desk where a toddler is sitting and you have to make the decision of whether to finish the letter in a thoughtful way or hurriedly finish, take the toddler before he manages to seep the mess onto the floor instead of just sitting in it, wash him off, let your mind wander about other things you want to write about and then when said toddler is clean and down for a nap you end up writing a blog post you have been meaning to write for a long time instead of the facebook message you started?

No? Well maybe it is just me then...I even managed to have make a number of connections from the facebook message to writing in my blog (like how I was writing to the person who introduced me to NaNoWriMo, NaNoWriMo is fun because I like to write. Because I like to write, blogging is an enjoyable activity. I have lots of things I have been planning to write blog posts about, so I should just do it!)

If All The World Were Violists

I am a violist, and proud of it. In case you are wondering what a viola is, my short definition is that is like a violin, only bigger and better. To my violin students: I love the violin too, I own one because there are some songs that are much better suited to the violin than viola, but my personality fits the viola better.

In my music room, I have a poster that was given to me from my viola section before I graduation High School. It boldly proclaims "Viola Power!". In college, I enjoyed viola appreciation week, and yearly viola retreats up to a cabin in Island Park. For a long time, it was obvious to me that being a violist was obviously the best way to be and the rest of the orchestra was really missing out.

But at some point I realized (I think it was pointed out to me actually) how boring the orchestra would be if everyone actually only played the viola. I've heard some pieces performed with an orchestra made up entirely of violas, and it is pretty cool. A unique sound that you don't often get. But as cool as the sound of hundreds of violas is, the sound of an orchestra filled with a wide variety of instruments has much more potential.

Anyone who has seen Steven Sharp Nelson and The Piano Guys knows that you can get a lot of cool sounds using only string instruments. But while their music is incredibly awesome, even their great team can't match the energy, excitement and variety of watching a live performance of a hundred different people playing on different instruments. While substitutions can be made, a lot of pieces just aren't the same when you don't have the variety. Rite of Spring needs the bassoon, Beethoven's Fifth needs the oboe and his Ninth needs the choir.

At some point, my view of "violists are the best!" shifted from a competitive attitude, to a "Being a violist is the best for me!" attitude that appreciated the differences and strengths and weaknesses of the other parts of the orchestra.

One True Path

Along with the idea of everyone's variety, similarities, differences, strengths and weaknesses contributing to the variety of life and making it interesting and valuable, we all have different paths to get to where we are going. I am trying to live so that my final destination is to return to the presence of God one day and to be happy and comfortable there. I know lots of other people with the same goal. But their paths to get there may be completely different than mine.

Think of this analogy: If a group of people starts out in Washington State and has the goal of getting to Washington D.C. There are lots of ways to get there. Some people may prefer the fastest, most direct route. Some will take an air plane, some will take a train, others may drive and a courageous few may enjoy biking or hiking across the country. Leaving at different times of the year will make for completely different scenery, even if the path and method of transportation are the same.

If I want to see some sites along the way, I may travel down the west coast and enjoy California and Mexico before heading east. Or I could take a cruise up to Alaska and then travel  through Canada for a completely different experience.

It isn't that one of these methods is the one true path and only way to get from one Washington to the other. All of them will get there, but everyone will have a different set of stories to tell about their travels, and with a distance that far, most people will probably have a combination of good and bad experiences on their journey. While there are many ways to get there, some ways are better for some situations  than others. Someone with only a month to live whose dying wish is to see D.C. should probably not take the route that takes three years to complete. But the retired travel enthusiast with a motor home would love it.

Of course it is possible to get sidetracked and lose site of the end goal. A person could end up planning to stay a night in Kansas and end up staying for the rest of their life instead. Not that that is a bad idea in real life, but for our analogy where Washington D.C. represents returning to God, half way is stopping short of the joy that could be really experienced.

Real Life

I love symbols and analogies because there can be so many applications. But I realize that they will fall short of their purpose and just be a good story if the reader can't discover a real life application. So here are a few examples.

When I was having my bridal shower before I got married I was so excited to be marrying the best guy ever. I said something to that effect and someone corrected me by pointing out I was marrying the best guy for me. I still think I married the best guy in the world, but I also know that he is the best guy for me. And I'm glad, because if my perfect husband were the only perfect match for every girl out there, things could get awkward really fast.

I can look at the rest of my path too. Some of it is different than what I would have chosen at the time, but I'm grateful for all of it because it has led me to be where I am now, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. I wouldn't trade my years of being single through college and a few years after because I have lots of great memories and experiences that have prepared me for marriage and parenting. But on the other hand, I have two awesome sister-in-laws that married my brothers before they had graduated from College and they have been able to share those formative years together and learn and grow and make memories with their eternal companion instead of just temporary roommates. I also know some incredible ladies that are far older than me (like Sheri Dew) and have never married. While they would like to be married and would make awesome wives and mothers, that isn't what the Lord intends for them at this time in their life, and yet they still make a profound and significant impact in the world in ways that I won't simply because their path is a different path than mine.

And all of that is just as it should be. I know of loved ones that have lived well into their nineties, others that have died younger from cancer, and there are many that die much younger, often without warning. It isn't that there is the ideal length of life and if we live longer or shorter than that we are wrong. God knows us each individually and since there is more to life than mortality, we will eventually understand why there are some people that seem to live longer than they should and others who are taken so soon. I don't expect to have all the answers in this life, but I know that they will  eventually be unfolded. I've had points in life where things make a lot of sense and I can see why certain events needed to happen to get me where I needed to be. I think that is even more true after death and believe that things are probably a lot more clear to those on the other side than to us here.

Choosing The Path

Seeing trials as an important part of the path to get me where I want to be has helped me get a fresher perspective when I am in the midst of the troubles. The temple my favorite places to go when I want a healthy dose of peace and persepctive (click here for free tickets to have a tour inside of a Mormon temple). I've found that there are lots  of ways and times to get such perspective and God will help us to know if we are on the right path, and help us get back on when we fall off.

I've also discovered that when I recognize the fact that I have no control over the paths others choose, and that what I see as a major problem may be just what they need to get them where God wants them I am less likely to judge. My personal path has provided me with a unique set of likes, dislikes, experiences, strengths and weaknesses. If someone else's path is completely opposite of mine, it doesn't necessarily mean that one is right and one is wrong, just that they are different.

Getting rid of the false dichotomy of a true way and a false way is especially important when regarding non moral issues. There are so many diets, lifestyles, political views, homes, restaurants, activities, medicines, products, education and everything else that claim to have something for everyone or a one-size-fits-all approach. They want you to think that they are right and anything else is wrong. But would you rather gain or lose weight, get plastic surgery and dye your hair until a one-size-fits-all outfit looks good on you, or would you rather just forget the hype and find something that actually fits the real you and the person you are meant to be?


  1. Sandy, you are a breath of fresh air and I thank you for sharing these simple philosophies. I have been thinking along similar topics lately and am comforted to see that as random as my thoughts can be, there can also be a rhyme / reason to them as well. Thanks for being wonderful You. :)

    1. Glad you like it! It is stuff that has been on my mind a lot lately. Especially as I realize that many of the things I used to think where wrong, dumb or not a good idea are things that I have done or am currently doing. Those type of moments when I realize my mom was a lot smarter than I used to think...;)


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