At one point I found a book called The Outsider by Colin Wilson that details this common sentiment among 20th Century writers. In it, Wilson quotes from Henri Barbusse's novel L'Enfer, where the protagonist concludes I see too deep and too much. Life, I concluded was banal; others, for whatever reason, somehow were blind to it.
The second version of myself, although not always thrilled with how any particular day is going, is rooted in a deep, general happiness that transcends the circumstance of the moment, and a real connection with my God, my Savior and the world around me. That is a direct result of my spiritual conversion. I sometimes feel guilty about this change. My two older boys were raised by a different father than my two younger boys, even though all four were raised by me. I don't believe I was ever a bad father. I seldom spanked my kids, but I could really yell, and I was horrible at listening. I can still lose my temper, but that happens less and less all the time, and although I still wander around in my own little world--thinking, creating and writing in my head--I'm less authoritarian, kinder, and a little more connected. My two older boys got gypped. It has absolutely nothing to do with them; and everything to do with the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
So, I should want to shout that "I once was lost but now I'm found" from the roof tops.
Yet, I don't. This post is an act of will. My will--because I know what I have is worth sharing. The Outsider discusses a certain type of writer who has a terrible secret to share--that all is nothing in the end--and they don't want to share it, but they are compelled to share it anyway. They have to. The misery is too painful to keep inside. When that was my secret it oozed out everywhere--in my demeanor, my taste in music, my writing, and my dreams. It had to. I couldn't bear the darkness alone.
Now, I have the opposite problem. I carry around this great joy that is unconnected with anything that's going on around me, and I have no adequate way of expressing it. I want to. I want others to feel it also. But, I know it won't be my words that pass it along; I doubt anyone will even believe me. I don't necessarily fear ridicule. I'm pretty secure in being a lone wolf. I was that for most of my life. What I fear is being misunderstood. I fear being taken as a salesman. For peddling happiness, or God, or the Church like cheap trinkets on a street corner.
I don't want that because my beliefs are too sacred to me. The world has enough televangelists, enough politicians, enough PR men, enough salesmen.
What I want is real connection, and the truth is I doubt I have what it takes to share the joy I feel inside. People who have died and visited the other side before being resuscitated express this. On the one hand they want to shout God lives and he loves you. On the other hand, at least at first, they are stunned to silence by the overwhelming weight of bearing the good news.
But I do want to share a video. I'm thinking perhaps it speaks for itself. At least for some. I know not all will feel it. The music of the spirit is like that. One has to be ready to hear it. So much of earthly music is like that too. I once wrote off opera, jazz, Bob Dylan. Now I hear deep enough to get them. I once couldn't hear silence well enough meditate, now I sometimes can.
I hope you can feel the spirit as Thomas S. Monson humbly accepted the calling to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints many years ago. I know I can. He is now the President of our church and our Prophet. I love this video because it is so opposite of the rhetoric and noise of this world:
The LDS church is not the only place I hear God speaking, and no church leader would expect that of me. If we believed our church was the only source of light, we would come to the conclusion that it was pointless to share our joy; we'd come to the conclusion that nobody would ever convert because there'd be no connection. You can't be drawn to what you don't recognize. One is drawn to goodness because goodness is our natural home. It is where we belong. So, I also recognize God in the words, thoughts and just the simple happiness of spiritual leaders of other faiths, such as the Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh.
But those are other voices, other faiths, other windows to the divine.
A writer's job is to bear witness. To share truth as we know it. This is mine:
I know that God lives; I know that we have a purpose; I know that deep down, there is a well of happiness in each of us; that we are connected to a light, a glory beyond all human capacity to express. I know that at times this life feels fake, plastic, unreal. We may feel, much as the writers chronicled in The Outsider by Colin Wilson, that we are somehow disconnected with everything around us, that we carry a deep, dark secret, an immense loneliness. That's because we do. It's because this world is not our real home. This life is a temporary assignment, like going off to college, to learn and grow and enjoy--yes. But it isn't our destiny. It isn't where we ultimately belong. It is a stop over on the road to eternity. That emptiness, that deep longing for something more is God-designed to urge us forward so that someday we can return to our source, our light, our Savior, our God. But, we don't have to wait to get a glimpse of it, a taste of it. We can tap into it now and feel deep joy in this present moment no matter what that entails.
I bear testimony of this in the name of Jesus Christ,