26 August 2008

A Golden Chain

Kindness is a golden chain by which society is bound together.

Most of the time, I feel like I have a vocabulary that is adequate enough to describe just about everything. I have almost always been somewhat gifted with language. I don't say this to be cocky or conceited - I just recognize that an understanding and appreciation of language is one of the gifts I have been given from God. I feel a bit like Hermione Granger, really, in her firm belief that answers to any questions can be found in books. There are a few times, though, when answers cannot be found in books and emotions cannot be expressed in words. It isn't possible. There are not words in English or any other language to describe my gratitude right now for the experiences I have just had.

This summer I have been involved in a play that has brought many miracles to me. It is a testimony to me that my Savior is aware of me and what I need, and that he has guided me to places that I need to go. I would never have auditioned for this show on my own. I hadn't heard of it at all in the first place - but even if I had, I wouldn't have gone. The show is The Promised Land, a play about the first two books of Nephi in The Book of Mormon. Anyone who knows me even a little knows my thoughts on kitschy, sappy literature abundant in and around religious works of fiction/film/stage/etc. They bother me because they box everything that makes the gospel complex and intellectual and frame it into a nice, happy ending sort of picture. They don't take risks. They don't challenge anything.

My friend Rachel made me come with her to these auditions. Well. . . "made" is a bad word, I suppose. She encouraged me to go. I thought - what the heck. I hadn't been in a play for more than a year despite my many auditions, I didn't have anything else to do this summer, and if nothing else it would give me a chance to clog my pores with some stage make-up I have that would only have dried out more from lack of use if I didn't do another show soon. So I went. I got cast. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

This isn't to say that the show didn't have its flaws. But I'm not here to advertise the show or talk about the story - the show is over now. I'm here to somehow attempt to express through words my gratitude to my friends, to my family, and to my God for literally pouring blessings down on me that I may or may not have "deserved" but certainly needed.

A bit of background: People think that because I am comfortable in social settings that I am a social person. This is not entirely true. Most nights I would rather read a book or watch a movie or work on an essay than make the effort to try and hang out with others. It's safer. I don't risk anything with a cup of tea and a book. Getting close to people is an emotional risk that is rather hard for me due to several experiences that don't need to be elaborated on here. That being said, I hold my friends very dear to me when I get them. In high school I had a group of friends draw me into their circle and build me up exactly when I needed them. Now most of them are married and gone and we don't talk much/at all any more. My group of study abroad friends are married and moving on as well. This play gave me the examples of a dozen or so people who are strong, genuine, generous people of the finest pedigree. I am honored to be considered one of them. I hope that we continue to spend time together even though the show is over.

The show struggled. Not because of a lack of talent, but because of several factors working against us. We were performing in a new theater. The venue is beautiful but largely unknown. The Olympics were easier to access and cheaper than the show. There was the stigma of religion to overcome. We ended up having several shows canceled, including one that my brother was supposed to attend. My brother has been through the mill the last few years. He really has. Details aren't necessary, but suffice it to say that of all the people I know, I wanted him to see it the most. He needed it. He needed to feel that spirit and be built up by the message. I was devastated when the show was canceled. But my wonderful, amazing friends banded together instead and found a way for him to come down. For two days I got to spend time with my brother and talk with him and show him around the city. He got to see the show twice. It was, quite literally, a miracle for both of us. I will never forget it.

So for whomever reads this, my point is this: if our spiritual growth depended only on reading scriptures and attending meetings like dutiful lemmings, then we would all be made monks. There is so much more to this life, and the next life than that. We are not here to just be spiritually prepared for heaven, we are here to be prepared for the social structure of heaven as well. The social structure and the culture of heaven - thank heaven they exist! I don't like the idea of spending the eternities only reading Ensign articles. Good books, good poetry, beautiful music, opportunities to make and build friendships - if they don't pepper the shelves of heaven's libraries and fill the rooms then I don't want to be there.

12 August 2008

Abort! Abort!

I just got back from a family vacation in Mexico early this morning. One thing I love most about my family is that we leave our vacations on good terms and still loving each other. Some families leave trips like this bitter enemies for the next two months until time and space start healing wounds. We're all so good natured that (usually) when things start imploding (or exploding) we just chuckle at the irony and chock it up for something to laugh at later. It's how the Dayleys travel.

One thing I noticed on this particular trip, though, is that plane travel seems to be kind of subtly reverting back to a very Titanic-esque order of business. At least on US Airways. For example, only first class is fed anything. The rest of the commoners have to pay more money to get a drop of water. I wonder if this still applies to screaming babies/airsick passengers.

Airsick passenger in Coach: I'm not feeling very well. I'm pretty sure I'm going to vomit into one of your pathetically small little bags if I don't get some ginger ale into my system soon. Do you have any. . .

Stewardess: Well, Sir/Ma'am, I would be happy to serve you whatever drink you like if you could give me $2. Then I will give you a US Airways commemorable Dixie Cup full of ginger ale to settle your upset stomach.

APIC: But I don't have any cash. Everyone knows that it's stupid to carry cash these days, and even if I did have cash it would probably not be $2 worth.

S: Well, I'm sorry Sir/Ma'am but our guidelines are quite clear - we are not allowed to serve beverages to coach class without a small fee under any circumstances.

APIC: You would prefer that I vomit all over your carpet?

S: Of course not Sir/Ma'am. But for a small fee we could upgrade the status of your complimentary vomit bag. We now provide them in three sizes and colors, as well as scented and unscented options . . .

APIC: But I don't have any money. You're going to have to clean all this -

S: Unfortunately, stewardesses are only in charge of cleaning up messes of any kind in First Class. If you would like me to clean up your vomit, I would be happy to do so for an additional $20. . .

All right. This is a small exaggeration, I admit. But only a small one.

Here are some other great things I saw on my way home yesterday:

1. There was so much humidity in the air in Puerto Vallarta that the plane we boarded was smoking. Seriously. It looked like they'd put dry ice into all the vents. I half expected to hear some kind of creepy music over the vents. I asked the stewardess about it and (after paying her a few quarters for her time) she told me that it was just the condensation and that there was no need to be worried. Very reassuring.

2. There was a woman walking around the Phoenix airport yesterday wearing something that looked like an old Shirley Temple costume (the short, ruffly tap dance skirt variety), pink cowboy boots, and sporting a fro. A big, curly, blondish fro. Amazing. I love people watching. Thank you to that woman, wherever she is, for brightening my day.

3. We waited on the tarmac in Phoenix for an hour (after an hour delay for weather) because the mechanic had to come check something before we could go. The crew did nothing to inform us as to why we were being delayed, so finally after about forty minutes, I asked. I was informed (after spotting her another couple of dollars for her time) that we were waiting for a mechanic to come and sign some paperwork. Apparently, one of the three bathrooms on the plane was out of order. We were still allowed to fly even if the bathroom was not functioning, we just had to have the mechanic come, confirm that the bathroom was broken, sign a paper confirming this fact, and then we would be allowed to go.

I'm being serious.

We waited for an hour for a signature.

Rest assured, though. All class distinction was maintained. The two or three people in first class were guaranteed exclusive use of their bathroom, and the fifty or so of the rest of us had to argue for time over the hole in the back. Phew!