Saturday, June 27, 2009

At Least I didn’t Barf

Let me just start by saying that I am a terrible fisherman. About the only time that I catch fish is when no one else is around to see me. My favorite fishing story is the time when I caught a 3 oz. brim using a stick with a found hook, line, and sinker tied to it. Nobody was there.

Another thing you should know about me is that I am the second cheapest person you will ever meet. My dad just barely surpassed me as the cheapest person alive when he picked up a half empty gallon of milk off of another person’s garbage can and stuck it in our refrigerator. This happened last Saturday.

In spite of my total lack of ability as fisherman, I really do enjoy fishing, so I was torn a few days ago when a friend and former student of mine invited me to go deep-sea fishing with him and his mom. On the one hand, it would be a wonderful experience to go deep-sea fishing, but on the other hand, $55 is a lot for me to spend on something that I desperately need, let alone something that I merely want.

What finally made the decision for me was the idea of seeing my friend Derek Kidd out on a ship at sea. Not only does Derek look the part of a pirate, he is tall with long, dark, curly hair which he often wears pulled back under a bandanna, but Derek Kidd is actually a direct descendant of Captain Kidd who was the only historical pirate known to have buried his treasure.

Early in the morning, Mrs. Kidd, Derek and I set out on the Emerald Spirit, a 65 ft. fishing boat. The water was calm, only 6 foot waves, as we made our way far enough out to sea for the shore to be completely invisible. It was actually a very pleasant ride. I barely got sunburned and only nearly threw up one time. Finally we arrived at our fishing hole and baited our hooks with chunks of squid. As we dropped our lines into the water, an interesting phenomenon took place that my dad had explained to me before I set out on this expedition. Immediately, almost everyone on the boat, except for me, had a red snapper on their line. But then, within 4 minutes of stopping, the captain came over the intercom and announced that “This isn’t the spot that we are looking for” and we were ordered to reel in our lines so that we could move to another spot.

Just as my dad had predicted, the captain took us to a spot where everyone would be able to catch a fish, except for me of course, and then quickly moved us away so that the hole would remain well stocked for his next set of customers.

The next two spots that we were taken to were decent fishing holes, but nowhere near as productive as our first spot. I was not entirely unsuccessful on the trip, however. In addition to having an excellent time with my friend the pirate, I managed to catch one red snapper, two vermillion snapper, and three other peoples’ fishing lines. That sure beats throwing-up the whole time with Derek’s mom. I definitely consider my deep sea fishing excursion to be money well spent.

So what did I learn from this experience? Aside from discovering that I enjoy deep sea fishing, I learned that sometimes it is worth spending a little bit of money for the right experience. This trip also reinforced my belief that there is more to fishing than just catching fish.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Third Time is the Charm, Right?

Something about the beach at night compels me to walk. I don’t know what it is, but something about the hugeness of the ocean and the feeling of being alone with G-d, just calls to me.

It was this call that led to me to the water tonight. I came looking for G-d and this is what I found. The following text is a bit unusual, but it is intended to carry you through my experience, so if you find the tense unsettling please bear with me.

It is still raining as I leave the condo and head for the waves. The night is moonless. The darkness is huge and imposing. As I reach the water, I stop for several minutes and stare in awe at the seamless darkness that spreads from the nearest waves to the tip of a massive cloud looming over me. There is no horizon.

I stand by the water and begin to think of all of the spiritual lessons and metaphors that I can apply to this setting. I come up with half a dozen sayings that I have heard from various authors and spiritual leaders, but none of these feel real to me. None of these ideas are genuinely my own.

Then a statement I have not heard in a long time pops into my head.
“You must find your own answers. They will probably be wrong, but they will be yours and you will be a great deal more satisfied with them.”
I realize that for most of my life I have based my beliefs off of what I have been told, the conclusions of others. These others are far wiser than me, and I have benefited by learning from them, but it is now time to see what the G-d has to say to me personally.

I start walking and praying, the ocean on my left and high-rise condominiums on my right, asking G-d to teach me what HE wants me to know.

As I walk, I begin to notice that the condos seem smaller as they stretch into the distance, but the darkness of the ocean does not shrink. I begin to get an inkling of how small we are and how huge our mysterious Father is. I start to think about how I have been looking for a companion, a wife, greater than myself to help protect me from the unknown. This idea now seems silly to me, as I see in the distance two tiny buildings surrounded by immeasurable darkness. No wife could ever be great enough to outshine or carry me through the limitless glory of God.

As I keep walking, I come to a place where there are no more condos. The world feels darker here, the unknown feels greater. I begin to get a sense in my mind that this represents my life. I feel that the parts of the beach lined with condos represent the times when I will have people nearby to support me, and that the part of the beach without any buildings represents the time in my upcoming trip when I will be alone. I feel like the L-rd is telling me that the absence of other people for a time will make me see Him more, and depend on him more.

Abruptly, I stop walking. I begin to stare at the ocean again. I feel like the water is drawing me in, as if G-d is calling me into his mystery. A crazy thought pops into my head. What if G-d wants me to go into the water? That’s crazy! It is nighttime and I have no idea what is out there. Honestly, I am afraid to wade out into the ocean. I am afraid to go alone into the dark water. There is risk involved, and I am not comfortable with risk.

I take the earphones out of my ears, and set my MP3 player on the beach. I ask G-d if he really wants me to go out into the waves, or if I am just crazy. I wait for an answer. No response. I begin to notice, however, that the waves have calmed a bit.

A feeling of peace, mixed with fear fills me, and I begin to believe that the L-rd is inviting into deeper spiritual water. It is time to leave the gentle waves of the shore. Still afraid, I walk about 10 feet into the water, and after a moment of hesitation, I dunk myself.

I have been baptized three times in my life. The first happened when I was four or five years old, shortly after I received Chr-st as my savior. It took place in a bath tub. My second baptism took place two years ago, while I was working for JH Ranch as a River Guide. After feeling led by the spirit, we gave an invitation for anyone to be baptized in the Klamath River. I responded. My last baptism took place tonight, in the ocean, with no one but G-d as my witness.

As I walked back to the condo, I found a message scribbled in the sand in beautiful cursive handwriting. It read “I Love”.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What do Mr. Darcy and Edward Cullen Have in Common?

It’s the 22 of June today. I haven’t updated since the mid-point of my trip to Costa Rica. Not too much happened during the second part of the trip and I think I can pretty much sum it up in a couple of sentences.

The Land Rover fell apart. We put it back together. At night. I made chocolate. I slaughtered a pig. I smoked a pig. I made bacon. We had a house built. I traveled to the Delta. I bought half of 12 cattle. I came home.

What Women Want

Yesterday I continued a conversation that I have been having with my sister for a couple of years now. Periodically, Kelly and I discuss women. It usually starts with a question.

“Should I read Pride and Prejudice?”

“You probably won’t like it. Why do you want to read it?”

“Because women seem to believe that it is an important book and I want to be able to tell them honestly that I have read it.”

“Watch the movie first. Some boys like the movie”

Kelly loves literature. She was pursuing a master’s degree in English before she had my oldest nephew, Parker. Our usual conversations consist of science fiction, literature, and girls. I trust what Kelly has to say because she is one of the most self-aware people that I know. When we talk, she does not make a snap judgment about what I am saying, but rather she listens and contemplates my questions until she is ready to give an answer that she really believes.

In one of his books, Donald Miller talks about love in the contexts of a conversation he had with a girl. He told this girl that he viewed love as a partnership, an agreement that involved teamwork. He said that at times he and his future wife would be attracted to other people, but that they would choose to love each other anyway. His friend believed that she and her future husband would adore each other till the day they died.

When I asked Kelly what she thought, she told me that she believes that the point of marriage is to make you holy. Marriage is about learning to love a person the way G-d loves them, truly, not begrudgingly, not because of what they do for you or how they make you feel, and not because they are perfect.

I like Kelly’s ideas about marriage because they do not unrealistically claim that you will automatically adore your wife, but they also don’t turn marriage into a prison in which you are bound by duty to a person that you do not love. Kelly’s ideas mean that I will have to work hard and sacrifice, but in return I can learn to love someone the way that Christ loves them, for real, forever.

I Had an Epiphany Today

It happened while I was in the kitchen describing my most beautiful friend to my sister. This girl is incredible. On top of being naturally beautiful, she is always well dressed. She loves art and is practically a literary scholar. She is full of dreams, romance, and a desire for adventure. In short, this is the kind of woman that my heart desires.

The thing that I realized is that I am looking for four things in a girl.

The first two things are easy. I want a girl that can manage money well and I want a girl that will be a good mom.

The third thing is rare. I want a girl that passionately loves the L-rd.

The final thing is nearly impossible. I want a girl in whom I will not lose interest.