Monday, June 22, 2015

The Solemate Theory

Having watched Pixar's Inside Out this past weekend, my philosophical fire has been lit leaving me with an undying urge to flesh out an analogy.  I've been turning over the idea of soulmates ever since April's book club meeting as my friends and I sat around discussing our individual views.  "I don't buy in" was basically my view in a nutshell, citing General Authority advice that any two people living righteously can be happy together.  But the longer my thoughts have ruminated, the more I have been forced to acknowledge a few more variables.  So here they are, in what I am certain will end up being just a sample of the bizarre ways my mind demands that I make concrete from abstract.

First, before I can discuss soulmates, I'm going to have to break this compound word into its component parts.

Soul.  

A snapshot from Mirriam-Webster declares SOUL to be:

  • the spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever
  • a person's deeply felt moral and emotional nature
  • the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.
LDS.org states that the scriptures speak of souls in three ways:
  • spirit beings, both premortal and postmortal (Alma 40:11–14; Abr. 3:23)
  • a spirit and a body united in mortality (Abr. 5:7)
  • an immortal, resurrected person whose spirit and body have become inseparably connected (Alma 40:23; D&C 88:15–16).
But I have to go a bit rogue here and admit that this explanation is the most concrete to me, and therefore will have to be the basis of this particular mind-journey.  From an article outlining a Christian view on the difference between the soul and spirit:
  • Our body functions to allow us to interact with the physical world and the things in it through our five senses.
  • We can live our human lives in continuous contact with the Lord by using our spirit. (My own LDS views vary from this a bit, believing my spirit to be much more than a conduit for contact, but I'm not trying to define spirit here...)
  • Our soul is basically who we are—our mind, our emotion, and our will. 
Mates.

Mirriam-Webster:

  • either member of a couple and especially a married couple
  • either member of a breeding pair of animals
  • either of two matched objects
Hm... that one was a lot more simple, but I still have to decide which definition applies most.  For my theory, I'm going to go with two matched objects and introduce the linchpin of this analogy.  

The Analogy.

When I think of mates, I think of socks.  In theory, when the wash is done, each sock should have a mate, right?  

For some socks, this process is pretty easy.  Some socks were bought in a package of 10 identical pair of black socks with green Hanes across the toe, and their only goal is to find one of the 19 possible mates.

Other socks, however, would have a pretty tough job making sure they end up with the ONE sock meant for them.  I guess that's why I loved the fad that started 10 or so years ago with all the teenage girls wearing mismatched socks.  Yes!  I thought.  This is how socks should be.

Consider this sock:

I mean, this one has been given some pretty specific information about what kind of sock to look for.  Adidas brand.  Ankle sock.  Purple base.  Green stripes.  And yes, I guess technically this sock was in fact purchased with one EXACT mate, so I guess technically there's one SPECIFIC sock intended for this guy.  So for now, let's say he really does have a mate.  How many days is he supposed to hang out in the un-mated box waiting for purple-green-adida-ankle-mate?

Let's say he meets this sock instead.  Yeah!  If I was the purple striped sock, I would totally go out in public with that green sock.  And I'd feel all spunky and happy and unique and like I'd found a sock that didn't offer the exact same things I already had going for me.  I'd walk around thinking, "Wow, this green sock really brings out my green stripes!"  But I technically wouldn't be able to say, "I've found my mate."

In fact, I could end up instead with this sock.  We'd have tons in common, what with Adidas branded right across us both.  But I could have so much fun being purple where he was orange and green where he was purple.  Think of the discussions we could have knowing that we were so much the same and yet so totally different!

So maybe if I was a that cool purple sock, I'd have a few options.  And I really think I'd be a happy sock with any of them!

If I was a plain orange sock, I could see so many different possibilities.  So many great socks for me to choose to pair with.  (Please read that without innuendo!... Oh great, now you went back and read it with innuendo.)  I think that orange sock could live a pretty awesome orange sock life, even if it never, ever found its one-and-only orange solemate!

The Conclusion.

So do I believe in soulmates?  Sorta.  I guess I can buy into the idea that for every purple and green striped Adidas sock on the earth, there is at least one other purple and green striped Adidas sock.  I mean, I am not the only one that bought that pack of socks at Walmart.  So I guess I sorta believe they are out there.

But I think that if I was looking (definitely not... I already chose my sock), I would be looking for a SOUL mate, not a SPIRIT mate.  I'd be looking for someone who fits well with my mind, my emotion, and my will.

Do I believe that I was sent to earth to find the one SOUL that matches mine?  Nope.  I believe I was sent to BE the kind of sock that can match a lot of socks and with the AGENCY to choose what kind of sock I wanted to walk around with.

Do I believe that some green-and-purple-striped-Adidas find each other?  Sure do!  And I love to hear their stories.

So I guess maybe it's not that I don't believe in soulmates.

I just don't believe it's important to find 'em.

In fact, I think I'd be much more amused if someday I saw my purple-and-green-striped-Adidas-solemate walking around with the solemate of the sock I picked.

Yeah, I like that theory!

*No socks were harmed in the making of this blog, though as I found them by dumping the unmated box, many did find their solemates.*

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Maslow, Locke, and Me

Before the Declaration of Independence listed the unalienable right to pursuit happiness, John Locke expressed his opinion that the government should protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of property.  Approximately three centuries later, psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced his Hierarchy of Needs - more or less his ideas of the road map to happiness.

Then, late in the 20th century, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints published "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" which outlines the responsibilities of both the mother and the father in the home.  "By divine design," it reads, "fathers are... responsible to provide the necessities of life... for their families."

With all these thoughts, philosophies, and beliefs floating around in my head one day, I suddenly realized that as part of a happy marriage based on the principles found in the Proclamation, I definitely take it for granted some days that Kirk will just provide.  I am incredibly grateful to feel like I am at the top of Maslow's pyramid pretty much every day, just looking around and thinking, "Wow, I have it pretty great."  But lest Kirk think his job is done, I realized that there 3 specific things that I look to him to provide.

Here it is: my earth-shattering, highly philosophical list of needs:

1. Safe and reliable transportation.  I need to be able to get to and from work.  I need to be able to take an injured child directly to the emergency room if necessary.  I need the freedom that a V-6 engine, four-wheel drive, and ample trunk space allows me.

2. Hot water.  To wash our dishes.  To wash our clothes.  To bathe in luxuriously.  Not only does my husband make certain the hot water flows from the faucets, but he even goes out of his way to make certain that it is always available in whatever quantities I desire.  He showers on Saturday night so I can fill our tub way too full with water that is way too hot, leaving none left for anybody else.

3. High speed internet.  To me, this may just be the very definition of self-actualization.  And if it breaks, it is somehow Kirk's fault (and definitely his responsibility to fix).

To be fair, I could technically provide these things for myself.  And to be honest, I do realize that this whole post needs to end #firstworldproblems.  And while I jest, it's really out of gratitude for all that I have.

When I announced this list of needs to Kirk in the kitchen one day, he laughed.  I told him he's required to provide them for me - it's in the Proclamation.  He laughed again.  Then he stumped me with a question.  "So, what are you required to provide for me?"

I couldn't answer right away, but finally responded.  "The kids' education.  Ultimately, it is my job to make sure they are receiving a proper spiritual and secular education."

In retrospect, I guess that's not really something I "provide" for him so much.  Rather something I do which means it's done.  And when I consulted the Proclamation, it turned out I was pretty much right.  "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."  And since I pretty much suck and hugs and soothing, I've decided to translate "nurture" into "education."

Hmmm... brief break as I go consult Mirriam-Webster on that one.

Nurture: "the sum of the environmental factors influencing the behavior and traits expressed by an organism"

Oooh!  I like that even better.  My job is the environmental factors that influence our kids.  That's what I do.

And to do it, I will definitely need a car, the internet, and a bath!

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Only Thing Constant is Change

In November 2013, I made a big, scary decision to leave the Empress Youth Theatre program.  At the time, it seemed super permanent.  I posted about it, citing my excitement over spending the last 3 weeks of summer with my own kids, needing to be sideline at football games, and all sorts of other really awesome reasons why I needed the change.

And then I had a super awesome 2014 summer.  I went to Puerto Rico with my family... right in the middle of EYT.  I spent 10 days with my sister in Arizona.  I relaxed.  I came and saw the EYT production from the comfy audience seats.  And the decision to leave still seemed super permanent.

During the 2014/2015 year, I traded my music room at school for the walls of a 5th grade classroom, a choice I have truly enjoyed all year long.  But one that means less music on a daily basis.  And one that I'm deciding to keep pretty permanent.

In December 2014, I announced another big, scary decision - this time to step down as director of the Dickens Festival.  Again, I posted about it, this time in silly poetic form.  As I look forward to my first Christmas in 5 years that won't be overshadowed by call times and news promos, it's definitely feeling permanent.

But I am quickly discovering that no matter how much I try to predict what I think I am going to want in the future, sometimes I just don't know until I get there!  So here I am now, staring Summer 2015 in the face and wondering...

Where did it all go?  

Somewhere in the de-cluttering of my life, I managed to clear my summer so completely that I have nothing to look forward to except endless hours of camping and traipsing around the country like a gypsy woman.

Oh, wait!  That sounds awesome!

And I'm totally gonna do that for June and July.

But while I'm on the road, my brain needs a project to chew on.  So much so that I have been chewing on this ridiculous idea:

ABC

(Andrea's Basement Choir)

In that daydream, neighborhood kids would come do a week-long show choir session in my basement.

Which is ridiculous.

Anyhow, when the Empress Theatre contacted me and asked if I would be willing to be involved in this year's EYT production, I knew that was a WAY better way to spend my mental energy than organizing show choirs in my unfinished basement.

And so here it is.

What I thought was permanent wasn't so much.  Instead, I'm finding myself in a whole new position, this time as Producer.

What does that mean, exactly?  It means I get to help this year's director, Chalese, make all the ideas in her head appear on a stage.  It means I get to spend at least a bit of time with the kids who make the EYT program so great.  It means I get to stay up way too late working on audition forms and typing blogs and feeling...

Happy.

Purposeful.

Confident.

Excited.

All the things that have honestly been just a bit beyond my reach lately.

So I guess I'm making another announcement, and this time I will fully acknowledge that I have no idea what is around the next bend.  But as for this summer...

Who are we?

EYT!