Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The more time you spend in a particular area, the better you understand it. This sounds like a very simple statement, but it is incredibly powerful. It is the principle that empowers empathy, governs effective communication, and allows the gospel to continue to teach the leaders of the church. When you devote more of your time and effort into the thing, it integrates itself more fully into your life, and in ways that you would not be able to comprehend before you applied yourself in that way.
For example: Lately, I have been trying to memorize poetry. I am not a huge fan of poetry in general, but memorization helps improve the memory, and the impressed mind is impressive to display, so I decided to dedicate some time toward learning these poems. I am currently working on the poem "Ulysses" by Lord Alfred Tennyson. This is a poem about Odysseus, the Achaean hero from the Trojan war, around whom the story of the Odyssey revolves. The first time I read the poem, it was empty to me. I saw well-written literature that would improve my ability to learn. I now have about three quarters of the poem memorized, and my entire perspective has changed. I now see an emotion-filled masterpiece about the greatest adventurer in Greek mythology. I feel as though Tennyson was good friends with Odysseus, and he spent several hours explaining him to me.
The investment of our time into different things changes us, which poses the question, what do we want to become? We are ultimately in charge of what we are, and this is determined by the way we use our time. Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, once said that, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." While this is an arguable statement, it is definitely true that we are highly influenced by the people closest to us, and those closest to us will influence us the most. When we spend more time with them, we become more sympathetic toward their plights; we pick up their subtle mannerisms; we become a part of them. If those we spend time with are such a large part of our life, are we giving enough attention to those most important around us? And are those that are around us influencing us the way we want to be influenced? Beyond that, are we influencing those around us positively? In addition to the people we spend time with, the activities in which we engage also make up a large portion of who we are. When we exercise frequently, we are seen as fit individuals. When we devote our weekends to video games, we are seen as gamers. Our values will be adjusted to what we like doing, and what we like seeing in those around us. In the poem I mentioned about, there is a section that reads, "I am a part of all that I have met;/ Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough/ Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades/ For ever and for ever when I move." Everything we do makes us who we are, and entices us to continue in the same direction.
The way we spend our time has the power to change ourselves, our surroundings, and, ultimately, the world. Our growth comes from the things we dedicate our time to. We need to spend our time with the people and things that really matter, or sacrifice our potential to become more than we are.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Adventure of Learning

Adventure is one of my top 5 favorite words in the entire English language. It can so effortlessly define an endless range of thoughts and ideas in a mere 3 syllables, and can recall vast worlds to one's memory or imagination within milliseconds. This summer, I learned a lot about adventure. And I learned that, to me, adventure isn't always what it seems to be.
And now it's time to digress to what this assignment is all about: a talk by Elder Henry B. Eyring entitled A Child of God. In this talk, Eyring discusses the habits and qualities of good learners. He focuses on 5 specific points during the talk that can help anyone learn better. Now when I think of learning, the first thing that comes to mind is school, and that is probably about the least adventurous word that comes to mind off the top of my head. But I would like say that learning will be the experience that you make it. Here are the five qualities of good learners that he lists in his talk:
1. Good learners seek correction
2. Good learners make and keep commitments
3. Good learners work hard
4. Good learners help others
5. Good learners are able to grow from resistance
My summer yielded a long, multi-part definition of "adventure", one that I imagine will continue to grow as I advance in life. An important part of adventure that I decided was that, when you look at your experience, you have a new opinion, perspective, or experience that will affect your view of life in general. In other words you learn something. As I read this talk, I tried to consider the advice in it as the words of one wise, experienced adventurer to many younger ones. We are currently in the middle of one long adventure, and have many little adventures every day, and if we apply the council of Henry Eyring throughout our adventures, I firmly believe that our life will be enhanced through them.
I am currently keeping an adventure log for all of my particularly memorable adventures, and after reviewing the experiences I have had, I noticed that I had unknowingly applied at least one of Eyring's 5 tips. One adventure I had this summer involved a hike to the top of Table Rock. For those of you not familiar with the geography of Eastern Idaho, that is a mountain about 11000 feet above sea level. On the trail that I hiked, the elevation went up 4000 feet in 5 miles. That is a pretty rough hike for the casual hiker, and I had to work hard (3) to keep the commitment I had made to get to the top (2). It was mostly flat for about half of the trail, which meant that the other half was very steep. There were several times when I was on the verge of giving up, but at all of the steepest parts, the support from hiking buddies was the strongest. By supporting each other, we were able to become stronger, even when the mountain fought the hardest (5). However, perhaps the best part of the trail was on the way down. At that point, I had been to the top, and I encountered a number of people who hadn't yet. All of them were at different places, and many of them needed encouragement. It was very exciting to be able to help out those that needed the motivation to get to the top (4). Just in this one experience, I have pointed out 4 of the 5 points that Elder Eyring outlines, and I could go on for several more pages about the number of lessons that I learned from this experience. In fact, I will likely talk about some of them in later posts.
I am personally of the opinion that the best way to learn is through adventures. Adventures will take many forms in your life, and it is your responsibility to take them as they come, and to make the most of them.
The full text of Elder Eyring's talk can be found here.