One idea from Elder Bateman's CES fireside Sunday night has stuck in my head. He used charts and diagrams to show us that our mortal experience is temporary. We're born, we grow, we make choices, and then... we die.
In the context of the gospel and with an understanding of the plan of salvation, our impending deaths should be something of little consequence, just a blink of an eye and a passing to something greater.
Elder Bateman intended his talk to open our eyes to help us see an eternal perspective. By seeing this mortal experience as just another step in a long spiritual process, it should be easier to make wise decisions now and to "look forward with an eye of faith."
I've been looking forward recently, but with an eye of fear and uncertainty. Graduation and job searching has forced me to start thinking ahead and making two and five year plans. I have no idea where I'm going or why I’m going there. I fear I’m going the wrong direction. The only thing certain about my future is that, eventually, I will die.
We're all going to die. I remember the night that idea finally hit me as a little kid. Lying in my bed, I imagined my body weakening, my skin sagging, and my heart finally giving out. I imagined the people taking away my body, embalming it, and putting it to rest in a casket. I imagined the rotting, the worms... the waste.
I couldn't sleep that night. I finally went to my parents' room and just stood by their bed, comforted to see that they were still alive.
I've tried not to think about that stuff. I've tried for a long time to believe I'm everlasting. It's easier to stay calm when I think of each new day as part of an infinite cycle rather than accepting that each day lived is one tally mark on a finite schedule of my existence.
In the eternal perspective, I'm doing all right. Today will be a good day. I haven't screwed up big time today. When I do finally kick the bucket and meet my maker, the injustices and sacrifices of this life will all be made right in the eternities. It’s a Job-like perspective. All I have to do is get through the now and eventually God will even the score.
In the mortal perspective, things could be a lot better. Today is just another day in a life of stalling death. I wake up, I work, and I sometimes play. I just have this feeling that everything I study and the people I meet and the money I earn and everything I do are just drops in the bucket. In life or death, it will eventually go away. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels at full speed but really going no where. When I focus on just keeping the wheels spinning I’m fine. When I start looking up at my aimless route, I feel really, really tired.
I once attended the funeral of a 14 year old girl who had hung herself. Being at a funeral of someone that young brings things into perspective. We all realized that life is short and for a couple days we just hugged our friends and weren't afraid to cry and didn't care about homework and all that crap. For a couple days we lived like we were dying.
I don't want to die. I don't want time to keep passing me by. I wish there were a pause button so I could stop and figure stuff out before I go any further. The future freaks me out. I'm scared of looking back in 20 years and feeling like I've wasted my time. I already feel like I've wasted so much time.
I feel like I’m being beat into a hopeless corner. I can’t have what I want. I don’t want what I can have. So I while everyone else goes somewhere I just cower in desperation. I’m the one responsible for my position. I’m the only one who can change my direction.
I’m not even sure what I want. I just want something significant. I want something that lasts until tomorrow, something that’s worth living for. I want to be the next Che Guevara, or Mother Theresa, or just get a hat on father’s day that says “World’s Greatest Dad.” I don’t just want to be that guy who was in your class and you pretend not to know when you see him later or that roommate you wonder what happened to.
There's more I could say; like the fact that Elder Bateman said: "It is the eternal marriage relationship and the power to create life which produces happiness in mortality and a fullness of joy in the life to come." See, that just messes with me even more. But I'm not gonna say all that now cause I have to go to dance class, then another class, then work, then my other job, then work out, then sleep, and then it will be tomorrow. And tomorrow’s another day
This is your life and today is all you’ve got now
Yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have
Don’t close your eyes
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be?
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose?
This is your life - Switchfoot
"Do you always think this much, Charlie?" "Is that bad?" "Not necessarily. It's just that sometimes people use thought to not participate in life." "Is that bad?" "Yes."
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chobsky
It's my life
It's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just want to live while I'm alive
-Jon Bon Jovi, It's My Life
Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-One moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip? You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo
- Lose Yourself, Eminem