Last night I watched a movie that I do not think I would recommend to anyone. The only reason that I mention it here in my blog is that it reminds me of a book that I read a few weeks ago that I highly recommend to everyone, For One More Day, by Mitch Albom. Both the movie and the book focus on second chances. Basically, the protagonist is given a set amount of time to be with someone they love. I thought about how I would react if I knew that I was given a set amount of time to be with someone that I loved, and how that knowledge would affect the things that I did, the way I interacted with them, or even what I thought about them. It seems like any given person put in that situation would act differently... and as I thought about that, I decided that should not be.
The reason I say that stems from a conversation that I had with my mission president a long time ago. During an interview that I had with him, he shared with me a principle that has changed my life. Knowing that I played piano, he began to describe two different types of pianists. He described the pianist who plays without emotion, who makes sure that every note is played exactly how the sheet music dictates, with every crescendo and decrescendo occurring at precisely the right time. Then he described the pianist who also works hard at getting the piece as close to perfection as possible, but as he goes through the process, he makes the piece part of himself and puts his soul into playing the piece. He shared how the latter type of pianist is the type that can change the world through the music he plays because he plays the music with a passion. He went on to promise that if I would live my life with a passion, I could be successful in anything. I believe that promise is true and that it can apply to everyone.
The tough part then becomes defining how to "live with a passion." I have my own personal idea, which has been influenced by my membership in the Church and my understanding of the atonement of Christ. In fact, I do not believe that I could live passionately without the Gospel and the atonement of Christ, which I'll explain in a minute. But first, defining living passionately. For me, one aspect of living life with a passion means to be willing to take chances, to fail, to try something that is not a sure thing. Too often I find myself being comfortable with the status quo, comfortable with only playing with golfers I know I will light up, only taking classes I know I will ace; but with that type of attitude, I will never know my potential, I will never grow, and I will never experience failure. It may sound like a good lifestyle, to always succeed, but it's not. Another aspect is to be like the second pianist, and be willing to let people know that you put your heart and soul into the things you do. I think it's human nature to try and protect yourself, and not let people know how much you care about something because if you do, and you fail, you will look like a fool. Who cares? It is in those moments, when you put everything out there and still came up short that you learn something about yourself. And it is only when you put everything into something that the victory can be sweet. I am struggling to put into words some of the other principles that I feel are essential to living with a passion, but as they come I will add them, and I would appreciate anyone's comments about how you live your life with a passion.
Now the reason that I could not live life with this attitude without the Gospel boils down to the fact that I fail a lot. I put myself out there a lot, and get rejected; I come up short on a countless number of goals that I set for myself; I shoot for the stars and end up in the same place I started. Sometimes it's quite discouraging, especially when I feel like I failed in the only chance that I would ever have. That's where the atonement of Christ brings great comfort. Everytime I fail, I sit back and evaluate myself on two principles. First, I ask myself if I had pure motivations. If I was trying to accomplish something to better myself, to reach righteous goals, then I move on to the second principle. I next ask myself if I tried my hardest. If I can answer positively to that question, then I know I did all I could do, and I am ready to try again. If I am able to answer yes to both those questions, then I know that I am qualified for the grace of Jesus Christ. That basically means that if accomplishing that specific thing is important to my eternal progression, meaning if it is necessary to me returning to live with God, then Christ will provide a way to overcome my inadequacies and achieve what I need to. And if it is not essential, then there's no harm in failing, or coming up short. By living with a passion, and by understanding the atonement of Christ, I have found that I can live without regret, always looking forward to the next time that I can wear my heart on my sleeve and see what happens.
Returning to the book and the movie. If I was told that I only had a short amount of time left to be with someone I cared deeply about, I guess that I might change my schedule around, to ensure that my time was spent wisely. However, I hope that the way in which I had been living my life and the way in which I would interact with the person would be the same; which I believe could only be the case had I been living my life fully, with passion.