Monday, October 21, 2013

How Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure Changed My Life

Thanks IMBD for the image!

All right the title of this post may be somewhat of an overstatement but I think there is a solid piece of advice found in that 80's comedy classic (not to mention that it is Keanu Reeves best work).

"Be Excellent to Each Other!" This great philosophy is shared a few times during the movie--once by a council of individuals from the future who advise Bill and Ted and their time travel and Abraham Lincoln when he brought was to the future to speak at an assembly for Bill and Ted.

As goofy as this movie is and as goofy as it sounds to have Abraham Lincoln say "be excellent to each other," I think that it is a message that most of us could use.

We live in a time where civility has become outdated and can often be viewed as a sign of weakness. We have stopped being "excellent to each other." As we all strive to assert our dominance, secure our place, and make our way in this so called "dog-eat-dog" world we have become more willing to maim who we have to maim, disrespect who we have to disrespect, and generally do what we have to do to ensure that "we get ours."

All in all we find ourselves in a time and place where it is more acceptable to be disrespectful and uncivil. Our world is now laced with new technologies where we can be a jerk/bully/not excellent anonymously. This freedom has given many a people a "new courage" to speak their mind. These practices, however, are not limited to anonymous comment. These behaviors can be found anywhere from CSPAN to ESPN, Fox News to MSNBC, I-15 to personal interactions, work to home to Facebook. Everywhere we go we are faced with people "not being excellent to each other."

So what do we do? How can we have a return to civility? Sometimes when I try to answer questions like this about other problems I get lost in what I should be doing to make the problem better, but in this case I am thoroughly convinced that each of us can have a great impact on this issue wherever we go. It all starts with us choosing to "be excellent to each other." Or, in other more eloquent (scriptural) words, "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger ... A wholesome tongue is a tree of life"(Proverbs 15:1&4). There are dozens more scriptures I could quote that talk about the power of words, but for now one is enough.

In a time when it is "cool" to be rude to the people around you (especially if you disagree with them) I hope we can ask ourselves "how can I be more 'excellent' (insert civil/respectful, whatever you’d like) to all those that I interact with?" As we try to do this we will find more civility returned to us. Kindness begets kindness and excellence begets excellence dudes! Party On!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sociology, Fatherhood, and Spiderwebs

I am a proud sociology major! (No I do not have a pony tail nor do I wear socks with my sandals.)

For those who may not have heard about sociology it is "the science or study of the origin, development, organization, and functioning of human society; the science of the fundamental laws of social relations, institutions, etc." - thanks

Sociology is a great field of study and my understanding of its theories have helped shape my view points on many topics.

About half way through my degree I was in a family sociology class when we read a book called "The Package Deal: Marriage, Work and Fatherhood in Men's Lives". At that point I was not married but was dating my future wife.

This book deals with the idea that men/fathers have competing interests that battle for their time, attention, and dedication. When I began to read this book it crystallized ideas that had been floating in my head for a long time. As men/fathers (especially within the LDS culture) it is expected that we will be successful at work, that we will provide for our family, that we will be actively engaged in our children lives and spend more time with them, try to do a more equal load of chores around the house, and that we will magnify and fulfill our callings (not from the book I added that one in). When thinking about these different tensions I would become so frustrated as I tried to "plan" how I was going to be the "perfect husband and father." I have continued to mull over these ideas for years. I am certain that I don't have all of the answers but I have come to a place where I feel more peace in this area of my life.

One of conclusions from "The Package Deal" is that "the different activities and relationships in men's lives are not separate and isolated but integral parts of wholes." I have started to view these areas of my life as part of a spider web--the tension/connection from one area of the web actually makes the rest of the web more viable (without that tension the web would collapse). I used to think that spending time in one area subtracted from the other (separate and isolated) but now I view each of these activities as “integral parts of [the] whole." I see now that going to work and working hard is actually key to "holding up" my ability to spend time with my kids and family. Doing chores around the house can help me become a better provider.  And etc.
A recent Mormon Message (watch below) added an even deeper level of clarity for me on this subject. Fathers are not the only people that struggle with competing interests in their lives (it’s just the life that I am living). I hope that idea of viewing them as part of your spider web can bring you a little more peace and happiness.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Value of Trying

Growing up I was a BIG Star Wars fan. (I mean the kind person that would only wear Star Wars shirts). As such a fan Yoda was untouchable. He was the greatest source of wisdom in the Star Wars universe (not to mention it was fun to talk like him). One of his more quotable pieces of advice was "Do or do not, there is no try." At first I thought that Yoda's advice was infallible and even though I understand the spirit of his words (it is in doing that we accomplish) I beg to differ with Yoda.

I see value in trying.

Throughout my life I have discovered many new and marvelous things because I was willing to try them. Weather its finding that new restaurant or dish, or a great new game or sport, or even being willing to put yourself out there and try something that you assume you are no good at there is value in trying. According to to try means: 

1) a : to examine or investigate judicially <try a case>
    b (1) : to conduct the trial of (2) : to participate as counsel in the judicial examination of
2) a : to put to test or trial <try one's luck> —often used without <try out a new method>

Trying new things has brought me so much joy and fills my life with excitement (not to mention new experiences). I find that for me it is one way to live life a little more fully.

I even think that tying is an important part of faith (Alma 32: 26-28)

"26 Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.

27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than 
desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

28 Now, we will compare the word unto a 
seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me."

So, next time you have the opportunity to try something new and good jump on in you'll be glad that ya did! 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Voice of the Spirit

About a year ago I was watching some Mormon Messages when I came across one call the "Voice of the Spirit" with audio from a talk given by President Faust. It was hands down one of the best quotes that I have heard in a long time. I have actually been trying to memorize it. The text of the audio is below. His descriptions of the different voices and information the can prevent us from listing to the Holy Ghost are spot on. Enjoy!

"How are you possibly going to select what voices you will listen to and believe? You will not be able to travel through life on borrowed light. The Voice you must learn to head is the voice of the spirit. The spirit’s voice is ever present but it is calm. The adversary tries to smother this voice with a multitude of loud persistent, persuasive, appealing voices. Murmuring voices that conjure up perceived injustices. Whining voices that abhor challenge and work. Seductive voices offering sensual enticements. Flattering voices that puff us up with pride. Commercial voices that tempt us to spend money for that which is of no worth and our labor for that which cannot satisfy.

In your generation you will be barraged by a multitude of voices telling you how to live, how to gratify your passions, how to have it all. There will be all sorts of software, satellite receivers, and communication networks that will suffocate you with information. You will be bombarded with evil and wickedness like no other generation. As I contemplate this prospect I am reminded of T.S. Elliot’s words, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

I have suggested a simple solution for selecting the channel which you will attune yourselves too. Listen to and follow the voice of the spirit. This is an ancient solution, even eternal and may not be popular in a society that is always looking for something new. This solution requires patience in a world that demands instant gratification. This solution is quite, peaceful, and subtle. This solution requires you to walk by faith in a world governed by sight. Learn to ponder the things of the spirit and respond to its promptings. Filter out the static generated by Satan. As you become attune to the spirit thine ears shall hear a word behind you saying “This is the way walk ye in it.” Harkening to the voice of the living god will give you peace in this world and eternal life in the life to come. These are the greatest of all the gifts of god."

President James E Faust
“The Voice of the Spirit”
September 5th 1993
BYU Devotional


One fateful Thursday morning at Davis High School, my friends and I were talking around our lockers when we realized that we did not have school the the next day. Upon this realization I declared that "today is our fake Friday. It's a F-Friday". It was at that moment that I realized I had a passion for combining existing words to communicate more effectively. At first it started by just adding that extra "F" on to word to indicate that it was an imposer. Phrases like "I saw F-Tyler at the store" or "There is F-Cheese on the school pizza" became common place. In time other began to contribute to these word tornadoes, and we came up with such gems as "Fair-atively" (fairly and relatively - thanks Paxton) and fa-ppy (fat and happy). To this day I still find myself creating these word-nados, so it only seemed appropriate that I create one for my Blog name.

So what is a muse-ser-pinion you may be asking yourself. Why it's any combination of a musing, observation and opinion of course (see below for specific definitions).

Musing: Contemplative reflection
Observation: Act or instance of noticing or perceiving
Opinion: A personal view attitude or opinion

A few notes before I get started down this road of blog-dom. Please notice the "pinion" in muse-ser-pinion. I don't promise perfection in my posts nor do I claim to be all knowing or that I have the best/only point of view. I believe in the value of differing points of view and the in the strength that comes from discussing and seeking understanding from the ideas of others. If you choose to visit I hope that you find something useful in my posts. Enjoy!