Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Transitions

Again I find myself at the start of another new transition. My summer here is coming to a close and it has been such a blessing. I have regained my goals in life, a new perspective, and I really am happy. Yet despite all of the wonderful things that have happened I need to take a moment and say good bye to this phase.

I've really loved Virginia. I've made some close friends here and learned a lot about myself during these past few months. It is going to be tough to say good bye to something that has been so wonderful.

Last night I spent some quality time with my boyfriend, who I'll call Timo. It was nice just to sit with him and talk. We talked about him receiving his commission in the army and leaving in October and me going back to Utah and everything that we've gained here in the last few months. Timo had broken his ankle during his last Rugby game of the season in April. He would have left right away for the army after graduation in May, but because of the injury it put him back several months.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Getting Married (To a Woman)


As I have previously posted, I've had the opportunity to get married on a couple different occasions. I know, that if I had just asked, she would have said yes. But I think getting married is a really bad idea for me. Even with being honest with my wife and talking openly with her about my feelings, I would feel trapped. It may be naive of me to say so, but some of my past experience has shown me otherwise.

As I have slowly come out to my closest friends and my family members I have felt a tremendous rel
ief of pressure felt from living a double life. It has helped me to realize that I can make the choice of lifestyle I want to live independent of anyone else. I know that regardless of which direction I take my life, my family and closest loved ones will support me. I really puts me in neutral social territory to make such a decision.

If I were to marry a woman I would not have the luxury of sharing my feelings of homosexuality in a natural and healthy way. If I were to have a close friend and desired to share with him the reality of my homosexuality, I would need to consult my wife first because my orientation would affect my wife significantly. Take it a step further; we would share similar social circles. Being openly in a mixed orientation marriage would provide a very awkward situation for my wife. What's more, what if I have children? It's one thing if your parents are an openly gay same-sex couple, but it's another when it's a mixed orientation marriage and it's a semi-closeted situation. There are so many variables when you bring a spouse and family into the picture.

Maybe I am being too quick to judge the difficulty of dealing with my homosexual feelings in a marriage situation.
I will say this much though, since I have made peace with being gay, told my family about my orientation, and adjusted into a lifestyle that is moving out, I have found that I am less neurotic, not obsessed with pornography, and the unspeakable "M" word is not really such a big deal. I feel more authentic with myself and a closing gap in the dichotomies of being gay and in the church. I feel like I am progressing as a person and generally I am happy. Were I to move a step forward into marriage would I have to deal with that emotional roller coaster again? I don't want to move in and out of depression and sometimes feeling like I am on the verge of mental and emotional collapse. It wasn't healthy when I was completely closeted and it wouldn't be healthy for me to closet myself again for the sake of a wife. It's not fair for a woman to be married to a man like me no matter how great I am.

And then, to throw the last log onto the fire, I want to state very clearly, I am really not very interested in having sex with a woman, much less regular sex with a woman. Sorry, I am gay and that's that. There isn't a whole lot I can do about it. Heaven knows I tried. I'm interested in having sex with a man.

In other news and somewhat off topic, I just wanted to post a little bit about the guy I've been seeing out here. He is so awesome. I've really been enjoying this relationship. I cannot stress enough how comfortable it is. It is drama-free, easy, and honest. We are so much alike in so many ways. We have the same interests, philosophies, and personality types. I am really sad though because it is going to end very soon when I move back to Utah in 2 weeks. I am a little bit scared and nervous about the pending break-up. There is still so much to explore in our relationship and I feel like it is prematurely going to end. Even if I was to stay out here though, the relationship would have to end because he has a 6 year commission with the army in a month. I just wish things weren't going to end this way.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Losing



I hate losing. I don't think it's ever a good thing to be a sore looser, but I won't lie; I hate losing more than I like winning. It has always been this way with me, but I don't think it's a healthy attitude to have and I think it is representative of something much deeper in me. It's the whole reason I never really got into competitive sports even though I know that physically I could perform well. And just like all other obstacles I face, It's all in my head.

In one of my sales books that I've been r
eading I gained some insight into this phenomenon that has stifled my success for some time. Carl Lewis, arguably the greatest track and field athlete of all time and nine-time Olympic gold medalist, was and excellent example of this. After his last event in the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta, when he won the gold medal on his final attempt in the long jump, the sportscaster asked, "Mr. Lewis, what were you thinking about just before you jumped?" As it turned out, Carl Lewis wasn't thinking about medals, money or any of the accolades that would come from a victory. Instead, he said his primary motivation was that his family was in the stadium and he didn't want to disappoint them by losing his final Olympic event.

The fear of failure is a powerful influence. Imagine what would happen if a pack of German Shepherd dogs were actually ch
asing the Olympic athletes down the track toward the finish line. That would certainly motivate me to run faster. People are motivated differently -and while some are motivated by a positive reward, some are motivated by negative aversion. While the book remains neutral on whether or not being motivated by positive or negative results are arbitrarily "good" or "bad," in my personal situation, I think being motivated by German Shepherds is damaging to me. I won't compete against someone else in something if I think I will loose or that there is a good possibility of failure.

I don't play video games for this reason. Video games are designed for you to loose several times over and over again until you can get a little bit further in the game and then you loose and loose again until you get a little bit further and so on until ultimately you conquer the game. Loosing the first time or two is aversion enough to keep me from playing again.


Every morning in my office at work we sit around a big table and have our sales meeting. Half-way through the meeting we clear the table, put up a little net, and play a half hour to forty five minute ping-pong tournament. I always loose. Not because I can't be good at ping-pong, but because I don't want to loose so badly that I psych myself out to the point of loosing on the first round. Then I sit there and watch all of my coworkers play and have a good time for the remainder of the meeting while I sit and feel sorry for myself. I know, it sounds lame, but this has always been the case with me. Don't get me wrong, I don't let it ruin my day, but it's something important to note about myself.

In terms of my sales it also affects me. I have done alright this summer in terms of sales. It can really be a struggle at times. Though I am not at all where I hoped I would be in terms of my personal sales goals, I am in the top 40 percent of my office. The company will periodically throw out sales incentives that are really great. Some of this summer's incentives have been money, I-Pods, Nintendo Wiis, digital camera, Skull Candy headphones, and a cruise. I have won nothing. I've come close a couple times. But I didn't win anything while virtually every one of my coworkers have won at least something. I think the most I've won is $11. I don't want to be bitter about it, but why can't I win something sometime?

How did I get this way? It's not like I enjoy loosing, but I think it's the aftermath of several years of self doubt and personal struggle. I am confident in most things nowadays. I'm not scared of strangers or knocking on someone's door and selling them my product. I'm not afraid of performing on stage or speaking my mind. I enjoy challenge and pushing myself into new experiences. But when it comes to competition, I get very uncomfortable. I believe if I can change my loser's paradigm to a winners paradigm, I will win every time. But I don't know how to change that. Perhaps it's just a matter of forcing myself into the uncomfortable competition and hanging on until I get used to loosing. Regardless, at least I recognize this about myself. Acknowledgment is the first step I suppose.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Doctrine of Happiness

I've been thinking a whole lot lately about the concept of happiness. Mostly in light of the path that I am pursuing, but also in light of some of the recent posts by some bloggers. (Gimple, Stripping Warrior, Elbow, Young Stranger, Forrester) Everyone wants to be happy including me. The pursuit of happiness can be found in almost everything we do -our jobs, school, relationships, goals, hobbies, religion, morals, etc. Yet if everything we do in essence is in some way related to our overall happiness why are so many people unhappy? Shouldn't we be experts on the subject by now?

I think there is a misconception about happiness. People all too often view happiness as if it were a physical tangible gift that comes to you on account of the things you do with your life. I do no believe that happiness is a destination or a place. It's not like we make a choice and then suddenly we say, "Okay, I've arrived! I'm happy now!" Rather, happiness is a progression, a journey, a way of life. I believe that happiness is dependent upon progression or achievement. When I say achievement, I don't mean, winning a medal, getting a job, making a friend, or having a talent discovered and becoming famous. It is the attitude towards earning the achievement that makes one's journey to the achievement full of happiness.

A couple months ago I met a couple that were about to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. What an achievement! They were a happy couple. They did everything together. I could tell, though time had seasoned their minds with cloudiness of age, their love for eachother was strong as ever. I doubt that on the day of their 65th anniversary they turned to eachother and said, "At last! We are truly happy!" Yet so often I hear people say, "I will be happy when I get this or that. If I can just change this about myself then I will be happy. When I get to this destination in life, then I will be happy." I believe that this concept fools people into unhappiness.

It fools people into unhappiness because it is not the achievement itself that brings happiness, but rather the journey itself can truly be a happy one if we let it. For me, when I make mistakes and do self destructive behaviors it is usually on account of shortsightedness or an unmet need. But through it all, I can still choose to be happy. Wherever or whatever the situation is, I can choose to be happy.

For me, happiness is dependent upon progression. Again, not the progression of achievement, but the progression of who I am, my character, and my calling in life. Achievement is merely a mile marker in that positive progression. Because of that, no one can tell me what will make me happy.

If I can choose to love myself independent of my actions though; love myself as God loves me, then my weakness can be overcome. And when I have overcome the weakness or the trial or made the achievement, it is not the arrival of the reward that makes it all worthwhile, but rather the journey.

Thats why life is hard. Heaven wouldn't be worthwhile if it was just a matter of hanging on long enough to make it from birth to death. Yet so many people treat their membership in the Church with much of the same sentiment. "If I can just hang on and white-knuckle my way through the Church and fulfill my calling, read my scriptures, be obedient, etc. then I will get the reward!" Or in other words as long as I keep trying to be obedient to the Church then someday I will achieve my happiness. Don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing obedience. I'm speaking about happiness. Happiness comes from within. It is independent of any of life's variables. Sin and disobedience are natural parts of mortality and therefore sorrowing over it does little good. Pick up, move on, and be happy.

The well quoted verse, Alma 41:10 states, ...wickedness never was happiness. I completely agree. But too often people reverse the statement and twist the meaning to say: Wickedness is unhappiness. Happiness is independent. Alma was speaking of the resurrection and the restoration being restored to happiness or in other words being restored unto exaltation. If you take it in the context that it is so often portrayed in the church, no, wickedness never was happiness, but neither was righteousness. Happiness is independent.

"Most people measure their happiness in terms of physical pleasure and material possession. Could they win some visible goal which they have set on the horizon, how happy they could be! Lacking this gift or that circumstance, they would be miserable. If happiness is to be so measured, I who cannot hear or see have every reason to sit in a corner with folded hands and weep. If I am happy in spite of my deprivations, if my happiness is so deep that it is a faith, so thoughtful that it becomes a philosophy of life, — if, in short, I am an optimist, my testimony to the creed of optimism is worth hearing." Helen Keller in Optimism

I could sit in the corner and fold my arms and say, "I'm Gay and I'm Mormon! Nothing I can do will change that and consequently I am going to be unhappy with it." Or I can choose to be optimistic and make something of myself.

I've been asking myself a lot lately, "Am I happy? Am I really, truly happy?" I had a conversation with my mom about a week ago about this. Certainly I wish that there were certain aspects of my life that were more perfect. I bet Helen Keller would have liked to be able to see and hear. I would like to be straight. But my happiness is not dependent upon that. Neither was hers. If happiness is not dependent upon my circumstances then it doesn't matter what my circumstances are. I'm glad to be me because I can be happy. I am not the only one in life who suffers with less than perfect circumstances. I can learn and grow in the life that God gave me and I can be happy. I'm not just saying this to convince myself or out of an obligation to convince others but truly because I believe it and I feel it to be true.

So then, am I happy? I really think I am. It's not like a big roller coaster either where one week I'm happy and the next week I suffer, but over all I've been steady. I feel great about life. I feel good about the direction I'm moving and the changes I'm making. Life is really good. I am happy.

Friday, August 03, 2007

River of Life

There is a reason why I like sales. I am not a salesman because I want to be in sales as a career, especially door-to-door. However there is a reason why I did it last year, why I am doing it this year and why I plan on doing it next year too.

I have learned so much from this job. It has really been a blessing in that regard. I don't think that I am out here because of money. Granted, I wouldn't have ever joined this sales team if I didn't think I would make money, but I am out here because of the paradigm shift. I know that if I can learn to be successful at this job, I can be successful at anything in life. This job has been one of the most difficult jobs I've ever had and been very emotionally stressful. However, I keep telling myself,
If I can believe in myself, believe in me and have confidence, nothing can stop me. When I had left Provo in April I was still somewhat emotionally unsure of so many things. I have really regained myself out here this summer.

I believe that life is like a river, wild and flowing. God chooses our river of life and we must ride it. Some people choose to paddle against the current. I used to do that. I believed that if I paddled hard enough against the current that somehow I would be placed in a different river with a different boat. That was silly of me. After I came to the realization that my river, my life, was chosen for me by God, I no longer tried to fight Him nor His plans for me in my life I went through a phase of exhaustion. I was tired of paddling and angry at God for putting me in such a difficult raging river. My canoe could hardly float at times because of how much water I had taken on. I allowed myself to spin and crash into rocks and capsize several times this last fall and winter. I hated life at times. Why couldn't I have a speed boat or a yacht and be in a calm, deep, and wide river? Fatigued, I believed that if there were sharp rocks or a waterfall in my path on my river that I must succumb to my fate. Life was destiny for me. I allowed life to happen to me rather than make life happen for me. Things became very difficult for a time.

This summer I learned that while I cannot choose my river and I cannot choose my obstacles in my river, I can choose to paddle my canoe. God has given me the strength, the mind, and the ability to ride the chosen river he has blessed me with. Rocks will inevitably come, sometimes calm eddies, other times raging rapids and other boaters who will push me into troubled waters. Ultimately I can avoid the most dangerous and troublesome situations if I use my common sense and learn to master this river, enjoy the ride, and be grateful that I was given a canoe instead of just an inner tube or a couple of floaties! It doesn't mean that I can change the landscape of my river, but the greatest challenges can be avoided with experience, prayer, friends, love, and a little bit of strength and technical maneuvering.

In essence, this job has taught me so much about paddling my canoe. I'm feeling more secure, level headed and happy now than I have in a really long time. I have regained so many goals and rebuilt my dreams to a great extent. I won't lie and say that there are times when I still wish I had that yacht or a calmer river, but I am grateful for my experience and glad to be me. There were times last fall when I really came close to jumping out of my canoe all together. It was a scary place to be mentally. I had worked so hard to earn my GPA and get through school and I felt like all my work was for nothing because I was destined to drown. I feel alive again though. I feel like I can again start working towards fulfilling my life mission and being truly happy. I cannot wait to see what lies just around the next bend in the river. Good things will come my way.