Today was the first day of my fall semester, and actually, although my school anxiety is sometimes the stuff of legend (and worth another post entirely), I think this is going to be a good, good semester. I feel really at peace. ALSO, I LOVE THE FALL MORE THAN MOST THINGS.
However, there is still some summer to account for, and this kid’s birthday was a real good piece of summer.
Guys, I love a good party. Birthday party, bachelorette party, bridal shower, impromptu fiesta, Monday night dinner party, etc. Of course, I’m also a very friendly introvert. You won’t find me at raves or big parties to make friends with strangers. More power to those who rock that level of outgoing. (I think that is INCREDIBLE, people.) My definition of party is perhaps better framed in the word, celebration. I just like occasions to be with people I love and to feel joy with and about them. I don’t believe parties are made or broken by your decor, your menu (although all of that is really, really fun), whatever. I believe that to party or celebrate, you just have to be drawn together in joy and love and mutual experience and – BAM. The party takes care of itself.
I love traveling with Cody. And what I really, really love is celebrating his life, his accomplishments, and who he is. I feel really privileged and happy to witness firsthand the great things he is doing, and all the good in his tender heart. SO. You can imagine how stoked I was to spend the day birthday weekend road-tripping and partying in Hatch.
We adventured to old favorites and collected new finds, and overall, shared an experience and a memory that was so much better than anything you can wrap up. My art history teacher shared an article today that I think sums up what little life philosophy we’ve been able to build for our family in a few short months of being one.
It read, “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”
I’m so, so grateful for our little apartment, our jobs, the opportunity to attend school, food on the table, and most of all, for a summer of adventures and experiences to shape us and teach us – and a lifetime to come.
Heavenly Father is pretty smart to mold who we are with experiences – the only thing guaranteed to every soul in mortality. THAT IS SO COOL. Experience is the great equalizer. It is our experience, our resultant words, our thoughts, that make us, us. I can’t get over that line. “We are the sum total of our experiences.”
We are purely the experiences life has given to us – beautiful places and people that make us feel, memories that broke us and built us, things that changed us or challenged us — but most importantly I would add, and what we chose to do with them. Purely that.
Accountability is wonderful. I love how that principle allows us to go places, see things, hear things, etc, but never justifies us as VICTIMS of circumstance – since the choice is always ours how we will hold the experience, view the experience, and humble ourselves allow the experience to mold us.
We are children of God. We don’t need to nitpick, to roll over and give up, to clutch to the harshness or downsides of life. They’re important parts of the experience, but they aren’t the experience. We exist to experience joy. (Does that sound like a scripture verse any of us have ever read?) We exist, to experience joy. Not to come by it easily, but to seek after it, to cultivate it. To remember it, to learn from it, to find it when it seems unlikely to be found. We have divinity inside us and a Savior to help us round the edges of rough experience. We can choose positivity. We can become the good, the beauty, the inspiration of our experiences.
I’m really grateful for the friends, family, and experiences that were given to this kid, what he has chosen to do with them, and who he has become.
23 years of life experience looks good on you, my friend.
(P.s. That was a homemade version of Costco’s chocolate cake and if it looks like it weighs ten pounds, it’s only because it did. Like whoa. I sold my soul and all hopes of a healthy lifestyle to the making of that cake. THE END.)