Year: 2020

fractured

It’s not that complicated, except for it is

Everyone has been talking about racism lately. I have been listening and thinking, but I have largely been silent on the internet, though I have talked about it with others. I have felt unsure of what to write–and I don’t tend to just go along with what is trending. I want to be more genuine than that.

I talked with my kids and things seemed really simple: we need to treat people with kindness and fairness. People haven’t done that, and we need to do better.

But it isn’t all that simple. This is about police brutality right now. That’s where the conversation started. I support police reform–my husband was a law enforcement officer for a few years, and I witnessed problems with training, policies, and attitudes. Black lives matter, and there have been horrific and horrible acts, many of which do not make the news and do not ever find any justice or resolution.

But in all of that, there are some issues without clear solutions.

We need to learn to compromise and not maintain all-or-nothing thinking. Public policy is rooted in ethical assumptions that can be complicated–do we value freedom, equality, justice? What do we value most? What does freedom and equality and justice even mean? These are also important questions and we can’t skip over them, assuming that they have easy answers.

And there are many things missing in the conversation, such as gun control, education, the support of families, and building up better communities.

I don’t always have the right words, but not many people do. I feel uncomfortable in my own experience sometimes, uncertain that I have something to say that is helpful or relevant.

There are a lot of problems in the world, and we can’t fix everything at once. But we can just try to be a little better, and to support good causes, and to be compassionate to others even if they don’t agree with us on everything.

 

inspiration

The Only Life Hack That Works

I just finished reading a book about habits. I guess part of me wanted to read the book and then immediately have better habits. But it doesn’t work like that.

I really love self-help books. But self-help books don’t change my life. If I read a book about habits, I still have to have the determination to change my own habits. If I read a book about marriage, then I have to do the work to improve my relationship. If I want to improve my parenting, I have to try better to treat my children with more love.

I can’t read something and have it immediately change my behavior. While thinking about behavior in a better way and educating myself can help me improve, there is no one idea or one method that will help me become the person I want to be.

Except for there is one thing: following Jesus Christ is the one solution to fix bad behavior, heal relationships, and become the person that I want to be.

When I am trying to better follow Jesus Christ, that is when I start to make the biggest progress in my life. I feel different. I am happier and my capacities increase. The pain from past mistakes goes away and I am left with peace. I find increased patience and love. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, I find the strength and ability to overcome any of life’s challenges.

 

 

 

 

inspiration

Gulf of misery and endless wo

For our family scripture study, Dillon started reading a familiar scripture:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman 5:12)

As he read, I realized I hadn’t paid much attention to the scripture. I just thought it was about building your foundation on Jesus Christ: you keep the commandments, you build on the rock, and you’ll be okay. But there is more to that scripture.

I suddenly connected to the phrase “gulf of misery and endless wo,” because I have felt that way before: discouraged and miserable and horrible. I thought I was building my foundation on Jesus Christ–I read my scriptures, pray, repent, and keep the commandments. Why do I get so miserable sometimes?

Temptations can be different than I expect. Sometimes I am tempted to lie, steal, cheat, waste time, or be mean to someone else. But more often, I am tempted with doubt, questions, pride, and discouragement.

What if my emotional foundation was built upon Jesus Christ? What if I was able to build patience and faith and hope–so much so, that no matter what happened, I would never be discouraged because I believed in Jesus?

My faith is often too reliant on my circumstances, and when things are difficult, I wonder if God cares. But He does care, and he provides for me over and over again. Maybe it isn’t in huge miraculous ways–in fact, the most powerful way that He helps me is that when I rely on Him with humility and gratitude, I never feel discouraged or miserable, no matter what happens to me. I feel happy.

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Some ideas I’ve had

Sometimes I think a lot about ideas sometimes. Maybe some of these thoughts will be interesting. Maybe you won’t know what I’m talking about. Do you ever have random ideas that you don’t know what to do with?

***

When I’ve had some spiritual questions and thoughts and doubts, I’ve often thought that spiritual knowledge functions differently than rational knowledge. I can’t prove spiritual things through being rational, and if I reject spirituality based on rationality, then I have to throw out spirituality in general. The best way to seek spiritual knowledge is to ask God and to trust that answer.

***

Null hypotheses are sort of how we operate in life in general. We assume something to be true, and then we have to find enough evidence to convince ourselves we are wrong. We usually don’t set out to learn something; we set out to prove something. But sometimes we are wrong and need to reject the null.

***

So utilitarianism tries to maximize happiness, but you could have an ethical system that maximizes something else, like freedom or justice or something like that. And you could also have an ethical system were you could maximize ethics–so if a choice maximizes good choices, that would also be a good choice.

***

Money is really only an incentive for the utility it brings us right now instead of the utility it will bring us later. We save because of the security it brings us now. We say we save for the future, but we are really just saving for the future we are imagining in our own head, not the actual future that is unknown.

essay

Change

We were putting on our masks to go to the grocery store. As we went to check out, we waited as the cashier sprayed down the register. Things are different now.

I remembered how 9-11 changed how you fly on an airplane, and I thought that maybe certain things will always be a little different now. Maybe we will disinfect things a lot more often. Or wearing face masks will be more common. Maybe people will stay home more when they get sick. Perhaps in 20 years, things that seem weird now will be common and people won’t think about it much.

We adapt to change so quickly sometimes that we forget that the change ever happened.

Do you know that bananas used to be different? We had a certain variety of banana that everyone ate, and then it all died, and now we have different bananas.

Kodak wanted to be the best filmmaker around, but then digital photography came along and Kodak basically went out of business.

We used to call and talk to people on the telephone. Now I connect to people in a myriad of ways, usually with my phone. Phones used to be things you used to call people. Now phones do everything. I can do calculus on my phone.

Statistics used to be doing calculations and now it’s basically learning how to use coding to manipulate data.

I used to live in a small town when I grew up; now that town is huge and all the traffic patterns are different.

Our lives are always changing. And it’s okay. Change can be good or bad or neutral, but things always change.

Except for the few things that stay the same: ancient trees, rocks, mountains, religion.

And the nature of life sort of just stays the same. We are born, we live, we struggle, we die. With all of the changes that happen, our struggles and our joys have always been the same–we strive to do the right thing, to help each other, and we make mistakes and we fight, and we seek meaning and purpose and happiness. We increase in knowledge and then make stupid mistakes anyways.

Things have been changing. And yet, so much has stayed the same. I am still here, and in a shifting landscape, I find that the most important things are still here with me.

poem

A poem for Sunday

Blossoms bloom.
Petals unfurl towards sunlight.
I rarely notice until
they are almost gone.

Sometimes, I find the blooms
sailing down to the water,
floating and then washed away.

Everything right in the world,
because temporary blossoms
keep coming back.
Their demise
brings fruit and that fruit
brings more blossoms—
years passing into lifetimes.

Blossoms floating in water

inspiration

A positive future

  • Instead of worrying about what bad thing might happen, we can rejoice in what good things will happen.
  • When we try to make positive changes, it works. We improve the world daily.
  • For every worst-case scenario, there is also a best-case scenario.
  • Nothing can grow exponentially forever. Growth levels off.
  • We have had so many innovations, development, and major advances in the world in the last few decades.
  • We notice the negative so that we can fix it. But then when we fix it, we don’t notice anymore.
  • People do good things all on their own all the time. People are a force for good.
  • We can’t predict the future–but we can choose to make our future better.
  • Over the history of the entire world, things always get better in the long-term.
  • There is humor and goodness in every hard situation.

It can be really easy to get discouraged right now. But there is so much good happening. We will get through this time, and we will probably be better off at the end of it.

Sometimes I am reading a book or watching a movie and I want to make sure that everything will work out all right in the end of it. When it’s a TV show, I often know that things will work out because there is another episode. But isn’t that life? There is always another episode, which means that we continue on and we don’t have to be afraid of an unpleasant ending.

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sorrow and joy

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place. -Rumi

There have been times when I rejected sorrow, wishing for a happy and easy life. I did not want to feel sad. I did not want to struggle.

I would pray seeking relief. I would pray that everything could just change and everything would become better all at once. And while there have been many times when I have been delivered, I find myself profoundly grateful for my sorrow as well.

In hard times, I have not looked to the gospel to save me from those times, but to save me through those times. The gospel gave me continual hope and guidance–I could not see the end, but I could hope in each next step. I have built my faith because of difficult times.

Miracles happen. And miracles happen not because everything is easy, but because they are hard.

fractured

words headline lead sentence paragraph

search

make sense of jumbled pieces

words to fit the world together

google facebook new york times

trying to get past paywalls

what is happening

what will happen

millions of answers

no answer

sleeping searching

wake and shut it down.

words don’t exist

noise recedes

the pounding of needing to know fades

left with quiet

stillness

calm

find when I stop searching

essay

Acceptance

A lot of people are feeling panicked and afraid and stressed out. This is a rough time. But things will go back to normal. They always do.

I have been trying to find good information about COVID-19, but here is one things I’ve learned: we have not had enough time to come up with the right data to make completely accurate models. Things may be better than we think, but I sincerely doubt that they could be worse than worse-case scenarios.

We aren’t sure what to do because we don’t have all the data right. We can’t tell the future and so we don’t quite know how to prepare for it. The leaders of our cities and states and country are trying to figure out how to minimize negative impacts. But no matter what they do, there will be negative impacts. The tradeoffs are not great right now.

I fully support social distancing, but we don’t need to overreact and panic. I am hopeful that when the data becomes more and more accurate, it will be better than we think. We do not need to shut ourselves in our houses in fear, but we can wash our hands, keep our distance, and prepare our healthcare system.

This is a tragedy. These are hard times, and I don’t want to ignore the difficult time people are having. But bad things always happen. We had deaths from heart disease, cancer, the flu, car accidents, drug overdoses. We are working on all of those problems. People get sick. It sucks. We have a hard time understanding the scale of any tragedy and there is not a great way to put it into perspective.

With this pandemic, we just have too much information in the wrong places, leading to too much fear and confusion. We have to trust in experts, let them do their job, and make the best out of what we have. We don’t need to be afraid, but we can be prepared.

We cannot avoid every bad effect anymore. We are going to have major consequences in health and economics. People will die, and it is incredibly sad and hard. But acceptance of the tragedy can help us be more rational in figuring out how to lessen the worst effects without being so afraid that we overreact and create more harm than we have to. Worry and fear can be a useful catalyst for action, but actions need to be kept within rational and sensible bounds.

I am grateful for epidemiologist who are trying to come up with more and more accurate models. For economists who are studying economic impacts. I am grateful for imperfect yet helpful policies that will help keep us going.

I have faith. I have faith that we can come out of this better than we will be before. This is not a catastrophe. This is not the end of the world. This is hard and it’s terrible, but we move forward like we always do.

I have been very worried and stress, but my mind feels a lot more clear now. Accepting that a hard thing is happening helps us move forward and make the best of it. We can’t eliminate this from our lives. But we can keep moving forward and doing the best we can.

Things I am hoping for right now:

*People be rational and make the right decisions to minimize the loss and negative effects of this pandemic.
*That we can find appropriate treatments that shorten hospital stays and reduce severity of the disease.
*The death rate starts getting lower and lower.
*Increase testing ability and more equipment for health care.
*That there are more asymptomatic people than we realize and we will be able to achieve herd immunity.
*For a quick economic recovery–where people can get their jobs back quickly and businesses can find capital to keep going and that the recovery bill does it’s job in providing more expansive unemployment and that when we do open things up and get going again, we have minimized the reduction of GDP and long-term unemployment.
*And that there will be an end of this and life will go back to normal, except for it will be a better normal because we have learned and grown from this experience.

Please don’t be angry and afraid. Just keep trying,