“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.”

-Jane Austen, Emma

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our Willful Blindness to Deadening Noise

They're screaming at us, we don't need your kind
Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small
That we can never get away from the sprawl
Living in the sprawl
Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains
And there's no end in sight
I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights
-Arcade Fire, "Sprawl II"



I often feel like I am drowning in the incessant sound and the reflective screens of the modern era. So, I'll spare you mine and offer Sherlock's finer words, from the show, "Elementary" on the subject.

Sherlock: I often wonder if I should have been born at another time. My senses are unusually, some might say unnaturally keen, and ours is an era of distraction. It's a punishing drumbeat of constant input. It follows us into our homes and into our beds. It seeps into our... Into our souls, for want of a better word. For a long time, there was only one solution for my raw nerve endings and that was copious drug use. In my less productive moments, I'm given to wonder.... If I had just been born when it was a little quieter out there, would I have even become an addict in the first place? Might I have been more focused? A more fully realized person? 

Questioner: What like ancient in Greece?

Sherlock: Do you have any idea what passed for dental care in the Hellenic era? No, I would want some of the wonders of modernity, just before everything got so amplified.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thoughts on change and what not: "You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." 

–Christopher Columbus

Monday, November 11, 2013

Poem I wrote before going to Russia



 strings 

It’s continuously a perpetual “Cold War” but on an individual level. The other never knows of, never trusts the other side. Oh how can this miscommunication be healed or where is the peace that lies between both—where can understanding be reached?
 But not temporary understanding, but true, consistent definitive relationships? 
Is there a way to overcome perpetual defense and attack, defense and attack, perpetual misperception and perpetual confusion? 
How many years does it span and how long must a soul harrow up this perplexity? Is there solace? Is there a bridge? 
Oh, if there could be a rope even at least a sturdy one, for even a single point to be communicated exactly and in a manner that the other side has no hesitancy in understanding, what it is? 
What is the modem with which we may build this street, this passage, this tunnel or this car? 
Can it ever come to fruition?  Is it impossible to see a unified place or connect between two different personal histories? 

I can’t understand. I can’t communicate singular thoughts. I know not the hardship, nor the pain, nor distress, nor agony. I know not, for I have experienced not. How then with my background of my own can I explain or attempt with some coherence and honesty of my own, connect and share my meager experience with something over there? With a pain I don’t understand. Can different frequencies become one or do they always distinctly remain themselves un-interrupted, everlasting and whole but trying not so for they never met. 
What is the point in all our separation and longing to remain apart consistently without ever a place to meet? 
It is so painful. Why must we remain such?
 Can miss communicated animosity build harmony or similar wavelengths, does perpetual distinction and separation produce a whole. 
Does completion between two separates create a solution that we so desperately yearn for? 
Or does remaining apart—the only answer perpetually ingrained in ones own self or unit—never stepping outside alone. 

Maybe crossing the barrier to the other sea is right. Where you know, no one has want of me. Perhaps you cannot understand, what stepping and crossing and realizing the other sand will truly bring. Perhaps you can be a rope or a string that will begin a bridge for generations unseen. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But then let me throw my string across and see. For if I but fail at least I will know that I did, instead of not testing the experiment and sitting idly by, wondering what my little string would have done for a person, a people and why…I feel so desperately weak and tired and useless as a string, but maybe bringing other strings will build a better bridge. Oh if only people could see what my little string did…and what theirs could have been.

- Sara Jarman


Friday, November 1, 2013

I never know how. I only know who.

Thoughts on fate.

 
 
 I have always been obsessed with the idea of fate. Some things are just fated to be. However, an individual’s agency also plays into fate’s power. Thus—the paradox. So, how can fate determine destiny if we make conscience decisions every day that are of our own accord.

I don’t know.

All I know is that throughout my life I have found myself in the right places at the right time when I needed to be. The majority of the time life just happens in some chaotic pattern (at least seemingly so), and the greater universe isn’t necessarily concerned with whether we go to Safeway or Whole Foods on our 6:00 shopping run. But sometimes, sometimes the universe does care.

I have found that the greatest events in my life have often come about through the small and simple things—the events that don’t seem so earth-shattering.

Often our fates are actively written unawares.

So, until I find a crystal ball it will be just day by day living then. And perhaps maybe one day, my decision about whether or not to go to Safeway or Whole Foods will matter. But I can’t know that now—right?


Just some other random thoughts sort of tied in....

"But I would argue that as the shape of time has changed around it, the meaning of patience today has reversed itself from its original connotations. The virtue of patience was originally associated with forbearance or sufferance. It was about conforming oneself to the need to wait for things. But now that, generally, one need not wait for things, patience becomes an active and positive cognitive state. Where patience once indicated a lack of control, now it is a form of control over the tempo of contemporary life that otherwise controls us. Patience no longer connotes disempowerment—perhaps now patience is power"

-          Jennifer L. Roberts

Monday, October 28, 2013

 
 
 
Hween.
 
I was the famous Afghan girl, Sharbat Gula, from the National Geographic magazine and that is Lawrence of Arabia.
 
 
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Timing-the great foe of my existence.

I dont want to wait anymore.
 
 
 
Waiting sucks. I mean it really sucks. There are few things in my life that I want right now. I mean really really really badly. People who know me well also know just how intensely I can will things into existence—even if it almost kills me. Part of me is writing this post because I am hoping that it provides some sort of catharsis. Maybe someone else out there is going through the same thing.

I am a very impatient person by nature though. I mean if I had one horrible wretched vice it would be my impatience. I find that my lack of patience has given my friends license to frequently throw down the phrase, “the case of too soons” regarding my actions regularly. I have probably botched more relationships, activities, events, homework, projects and a countless number of other things because of this horrible vice. Really, though.

So, if you recognize a problem though apply a solution. Not so much. Patience is a characteristic that you have to work on day by day, minute by minute, and second by second. It is the characteristic that is the worst to develop because the people who are impatient by nature—will never spend the necessary time or fermentation to develop it. They will just scramble for another quality to work on—one that requires less time. I do this. I have learned how to be stronger, faster, smarter, exe. However, patience—the one elephant in the room—still stands there, immovable and large and I hate it.

In order to defeat this foe perhaps I should just do what it wants me to do. Give in. Wait. Be patient. Now that really sucks. I thought that developing qualities meant that you had to actively fight to win and pursue them. In order to be faster, you need to go running more. In order to paint better you need to take an art class. In order to learn more you need to attend class frequently and read books. But what do you do to develop patience? I mean really. I have not found a Patience for Dummy’s book at the local Barnes and Noble lately. Boo.

I could offer a lot of really deep quotes about this topic. I am sure some Russian author has something to say on the “time heals all wounds” mantra. But I don’t know, their words still only give me ten seconds of relief and then one long hour later I am bemoaning the fact that nothing I want has still happened yet. I mean if you knew you were going to win the lottery in one year, but had to wait exactly one year in order to claim your winnings, could you wait? or would you fight to bring it sooner?

Maybe happiness and satisfaction is found in the small and simple things though. I should look at a flower differently today. I should smile at a child. I should not want the future so badly. I don’t know what the future brings. Even if it does bring good things—with the good always comes the bad. For every action there is an equal an equal and opposite reaction. Greatest joys are often accompanied with the greatest sorrows. So, if I want the greatest happiness I must also be prepared to deal with great sadness as well. This is true. Am I ready for great sadness? Nope, maybe—I don’t know.

It is back to working on patience then.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Came across this on my run. Someone stole their chessboard.

Pretty upset about that.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

more thoughts on vulnerability....



I found this mission farewell talk from when I left on my mission to Russia in 2010. Reminded me of some good times (not really). I've just posted some of it though.

Many of you don’t know me, but I am hoping that by the end of this talk you will have a better idea both of who I am and why I am serving a mission.

In assessing the steps that I took in preparing for my mission I don’t necessarily recollect any one particular circumstance—or that Ah Ha moment when I decided to serve, but rather in looking back over the past year. 

I find that it was a series of events that led me to the place where I am at right now, as so often is in the case in achieving goals and developing oneself further. For as the Lord says in Isaiah Chapter 28: 10. “For Precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little and there a little.”

In order to show how I came to accept the idea of serving a mission I’d like to divide the past year into four separate categories, each reflecting a different stage in my preparation. Firstly, early on in the year I had to change my frame of mind. Secondly I had to develop faith. Thirdly, act on that faith and lastly continue to go forth and endure in these principles. Through each of these stages I became more confident in my decision to serve a mission and subsequently more acquainted  with the gospel, and the savior.

First off, changing my mindset was by far the hardest step in this process. In order to illustrate this point I’d like to share an experience from a couple years back that sheds light onto why this was the hardest step for me, for I can be quite stubborn. When I was 16 years old, I went out to a nearby lake with some of the youth in our ward at the end of the summer. I had never been wake boarding before and I was anxious to accomplish such a feat.

As I was hanging off the back of the boat, Brother Attack, second counselor in the Bishopric was explaining the basics of getting up on a wakeboard. He said one thing in particular to me that has reverberated throughout my life: “Sara he said (looking at me directly in the eye) you have to let the boat pull you up—you can’t pull yourself up, if you do you’ll get tangled or dragged—you have to let the boat pull you up”

For the next minute I repeated in my mind: “let the boat pull you up, let the boat pull you up” Alas though, per typical Sara-- when the boat began to pick up speed. I didn’t let it. I pulled myself up, and of course wiping out in the water failing at my attempt. I did this two more times, before Brother Attack pulled me back to the end of the boat to give me a little pep talk: “Sara, look I know you are strong. I know you can pull yourself up, but don’t, you are never going to make it up” So in absolute determination—accepting that perhaps the key to success was in submitting to the boat’s power rather than in trusting my own  I let myself fall back—the next go around, allowing the boat to pull me up. Lo and behold it worked, I got up—and for one of the first times I realized that success sometimes lies in allowing other forces—whether they be friends, family and most importantly God to help you up.


I think back on this experience in my life and realize how hard we make the simplest and easiest decisions the hardest and most difficult ones in our lives. In relating this to developing the appropriate mindset in serving a mission, I had to for once in my life—let the boat once again pull me up. Let the Lord into my heart and mind and let Him help me to change my outlook. I tried for literally months through sheer will power to make myself happy when I knew that I was not doing what the Lord wanted me too. Instead of accepting the Lord’s desire for me to serve a mission, I for many months forced myself into distraction after distraction--turning the decision to serve a mission into an endless maze of distress rather than one of ease. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

#vulnerability

"Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen"
-Brene Brown 



I know that many people have seen the TED Talk on vulnerability, but you can never watch this gem too many times. I was most particularly struck by her take on the political situation (mind you this is from 2010). When we numb ourselves to feeling pain, anger, sadness ext. we begin to blame other people for our problems rather than work through them. One can see an example of the "blame game" from the recent political rhetoric used during government shutdown. Rather then in engaging in civilized discourse both sides attacked one another than working through the problem in a rational, yet empathetic way. When people are vulnerable and acknowledge their faults civil discourse becomes natural rather than a strenuous exercise in futility. I mean maybe this notion is too idealistic to adapt in Washington.  I mean who wants to acknowledge their mistakes. Duh. But perhaps if everyone in the nation's capital took a mere 20 minutes to watch this short segment of enlightenment, there would be a little more political serenity and little less catastrophe and death. Just saying.




Saturday, October 19, 2013

Just a thought for the day from one of my favorite books: 

“The world says: "You have needs -- satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don't hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more." This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.” 
― The Brothers Karamazov 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

 
 
What Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope teach us about the necessity for political ideological balance
The antidote for the current angst in the American political rancor is Parks and Recreation. Everyone should be required to watch an episode. Current news programs, whether it’s FOX or MSNBC, anguish rather than promote discussion of the current government shutdown, debt ceiling limit, Obamacare, etc. Perhaps tuning into a primetime favorite will not only soothe anxieties, but educate the American public on what good politics looks like. The relationship between Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson sheds light onto how we can all get along a little better.
Ron hates big government. Leslie believes in more government. Yet, somehow they both manage to have barbeques on the weekend and work together on city budget during the week. In fact, one could argue that they are each other’s greatest allies. Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Obama may not be having joint family barbeques on the White House lawn anytime soon, but perhaps one of them can at least pass the mustard when they’re asked. They need to get along better. Bringing their unique perspectives would make a better and more effective Parks Department, or er…federal government. For example, in the episode “Sweetums”Swanson states, “Leslie needs to butt out. The whole point of this country is if you wanna eat garbage, balloon up to 600 pounds, and die of a heart attack at 43, you can! You are free to do so! To me, that's beautiful.” But in the subsequent episode “Eagleton” states, “Leslie has a lot of qualities I find horrifying, but the worst one by far is how thoughtful she can be.”He disagrees with Leslie ideologically, but admires her character in his own sarcastic way, allowing him the ability to work with her on civic issues in a civil way. Tender.
Knope and Swanson get it. They recognize although not overtly, that ideological balance is necessary for maintaining a functioning Republic, even in the microcosm of Pawnee. Without a balance in both thought and politics, individuals combined into one mass, especially one mass movement, become asymmetrical in their judgment and values. Political movements are not the norm throughout most of the history of American politics and are usually denounced as troublesome, as was abolitionism originally for example, or even un-American, as in the case of socialism or communism. However, if and when one force or movement becomes politically more predominant than others, then the polity is moved as it heavily tilts to one side—opening it up to legislative movements and eventual anarchy and even tyranny if the forces of liberalism and conservatism are not brought back into balance. Once differing perspectives are understood and appreciated, we can are work towards mutually beneficial solutions.
Balance is the key word here. The problem is that the Republicans have apparently forgotten this. And so have the Democrats. Demonizing one another only breeds more frustration, confusion and contempt rather than collaboration and civility—the type of civility that Knope and Swanson exercise on a daily basis.
Without conservatism’s voice to effectively balance the liberal conversation, they become regarded as ‘progressive’on the aggressive American political stage.
If the analogous relationship of Ron Swanson and Leslie Knope to the current Republican-Democrat emotional constipation doesn’t inspire, perhaps the immortal words of Star Wars’ Qui-Gon Jinn will: sensing the inevitable collapse of the Jedi Council, his dying words to Obi Wan Kenobi echo these Swanson-Knope sentiments. He exhorts, “He... is the chosen one. He... will bring balance. Train him.” Without recognizing the need for and maintaining ideological balance, demagogues are more easily able to hijack and manipulate the American public---after all who wants to listen to Darth Vader?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Thanks Mark for this gem on my desk this morning. Its hard to be me.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

These are my high tech stats during the gov. shut down. More to follow.


Monday, October 7, 2013

I was digging around in some of the old articles I wrote for the BYU Political Review, and found this gem. I wrote it in 2009, but the argument is still very applicable.


MistakenHealthcare
We look to the mistakes of the past to learn and become less likely to repeat them.
However, in passing Obamacare, we have made the same mistake that we did in passing the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. Once again, we have ignored the true issue (federal vs. state priority in governance) and focused on the current big-ticket problem (now healthcare, then slavery).
The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a good idea. The South wanted slavery in the West; the North didn’t. Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas proposed a solution whereby the western territories would vote on the decision by popular sovereignty. Instead of dealing with the real issue of getting Southerners and Northerners to work together, the act postponed the inevitable conflict while raising the stakes. This made the civil war a more bitter fight. Instead of a localized fight between the South and the North in the eastern half of the country, the act included the West. In reality, the act polarized the nation even further. When legislation is used to cover rather than heal deeper wounds, disease persists and a nation ultimately suffers.
Obamacare is analogous to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. For, rather than truly espousing principles of democracy, it paints a fa├žade over them. Forcing people to get health insurance or face tax penalties does not coincide with the actions of a republic. Regardless of whether the nation needs to overhaul or re-assess the healthcare system isn’t the issue; it is the manner in which the legislation was created and enacted which is. Rushed, ill-thought-out and ill-planned, plagued with a series of ear marks—Obamacare does not represent the will of the people, but rather the government’s will forced upon them. The Kansas-Nebraska Act is similar in that the act was ill-thought out, ill-planned and rushed through congress, without recognizing or acknowledging future ramifications. The Kansas-Nebraska Act brought bloodshed to the Midwest, and debates over Obamacare will bring serious conflict to the nation. The degree of conflict has yet to be decided. Obamacare, like the Kansas-Nebraska Act, buries the real problems and contentions of the American people, namely deeper questions as to the nature of government’s role. The issue of strong central identity vs. strong individual rights has been an issue for centuries, but it has become more divisive in recent decades.
Recently, there has been a strong populist sentiment against a nationalist/centralist identity, with people identifying more with community and state rights. Obamacare is a“postponing bill” that will eventually be the catalyst for an inevitable conflict between the American people over state vs. central government roles.
Those opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act were thought reactionary, pessimistic and un-American. Opponents of Obamacare are being treated similarly because the legislation raises questions of the proper role of government in the lives of individuals. The two polarized sides of the healthcare debate are not breeding unification. By ignoring conservatives’ inflammatory temperaments, the Democrats’laissez-faire approach of ignoring the opposition, no matter how moderate, corrodes democracy. The tension between these two forces will inevitably explode. Ignoring the issue of federal versus local governance only increases the number of Americans who mistrust central government.
A house divided against itself cannot stand—it never has and never will