Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cliches and Literary Devices - It's how I blog about life lessons, faith, and pushing forward

I keep trying to find something worth blogging about. Even more, something interesting to blog about. Mmmmyeah. It's rough. Most of the "events" that have happened in my life the past week or so aren't really things I...want on the Internet. Ya know? So how do you write about something - without writing about it? One of life's really tough questions.

Today I went to church in my new ward. I really like starting a new ward. New faces. New callings. New beginnings. CLICHE! Hey, cliches are formed from truths. That's why they're cliches - truths that are experienced so much in life the lessons lose meaning and resonance. We keep trying to find alternative ways to describe the same problems, the same life lessons, the same ideas. That's how you know you're a good writer - you've found a better way to say "It's not the end, it's only the beginning." Well, one way you know you're a decent writer at least.

In sacrament meeting, a girl gave a talk about trials and tribulations. She used an analogy. I love analogies. Analogies. Parables. They just make otherwise complicated concepts attainable across the board. It's the ultimate device to aide a broad audience grasp deeper subjects using simple comparisons. I totally nerded out just then didn't I? Back to the point - in sacrament meeting, a girl gave a talk about trials and tribulations. The analogy she used involved teaching ski lessons to 5-6 year old kids. She is a ski instructor at Alta, and commenced to describe the different kinds of "students" that come to her. I'm going to expound on her analogy by dividing these students into groups:

1. Scardy Cats: These kids come wide eyed and trembling. They continue to wide eyed and trembling through the duration of the lesson. They cling to the instructor and beg them to do everything for them: point their skis in the right direction, hold their hand the entire time, guide them down the mountain, never leave their side, and if they happen to fall, to pick them right back up. They fear the future. They fear the unknown. They think they can see what will happen and therefore, don't want to do it on their own. They don't give themselves a chance to learn. They don't take a risk in faith.

2. Take it easy: These kids are fearful, but not as entirely dependent. They go down the slopes a couple times, fail, realize it's hard, and ask their instructor if they can just go in the lodge and have some hot chocolate. It's cold outside, they're not catching on. And the lodge seems so nice and warm. They don't want to learn to ski the hard way - but would rather sit it out. They'd rather not face what's ahead. When things get complicated, they leave.

3. Fallen and Lost: These kids give up after trying for awhile. They come ambitious and ready, but after some failed attempts, some frustrations, some tears and crying, they give up. They wander away and build a snowman elsewhere. They write it off. They don't want to learn anymore - the experience isn't what they thought it was going to be. They'd rather just find something easier, something better to do, and never learn the lessons they were so eager to be a part of before.

4. Eager Snow Bunnies: These kids are gung ho, I am the best, I'm going to conquer this, get me on that MOUNTAIN! They're not as scared as the other kids, and these starters want to take matters into their own hands "skiing" before they've been taught anything. They zoom strait down the bunny hill without heading the instructors patient warnings. They run faster than they are ready for, they go life more than they have strength, they aren't ready, and every time they won't heed the instructors direction, crash into the fence. They will hit the fence and hit the fence until finally, they realize that what they want takes time. Sometimes, they are eager, but not patient, and sabotage themselves.

You see where I'm going with this. Using this analogy, the instructor is the Lord, patiently trying to teach us, the eager ski students, or rather more potently, the eager children who need his loving guidance, to teach us how to navigate down the slopes. What I liked most about this analogy, is the idea that the Lord is there to help us, and he will pick us up and put us on our feet again, but allows us to learn, to grow on our own, and doesn't always point our ski's down the hill or hold our hand as we slowly descend the mountain. He even wants us to pick ourselves up and try again, trusting that he will always be near.

The cliches:

  • If we don't struggle, we won't learn.
  • If we don't fall, we won't know how to get up.
  • If the Lord held our hand the entire time, we wouldn't learn how to continue ON OUR OWN.
  • If we took it easy, we'd never progress. We'd never get better. We'd never increase in knowledge and understanding.
  • If we are scared, if we don't try, we won't move forward.

When that good sister was explaining the Lords role in our trials and struggles using this analogy, I found some answers in my own life. I began to wonder what student I was. I've been the Scardy Cat, not willing to take risks and make my own choices, trusting that the Lord will guide me. Where there's fear, there can not be faith. I wasn't trusting the Lord like I thought I was. "I trust you - but you have to answer me right now."

I've wanted to take it easy before - just go in the lodge and put my feet up - sipping hot chocolate and watching the other kids struggle down the mountain. The irony is, those struggling kids who seem to be going no where, are the ones learning to ski. They're learning to navigate life's trials, and if I sit them out, I won't ever learn how to deal with tribulation. I can't sit in the lodge and expect to endure.

However, the student example that hit home the most for me was the Eager Ski Bunny. There are many times when I've tried to run before I have the strength, where I've tried to cut lessons or trials off at the pass. Patience. I struggle with patience. I wanted to learn the lessons I needed to so I wouldn't have to fall down the hill. In my life I've tried so many times just to go for it, to shoot down the slopes and run into the fence over and over, hoping that I will eventually understand enough to turn, to not run into the fence, withouth the patience to wait for the answer. I knew I needed instruction, but I wasn't patient enough to get the entire picture. I've noticed patterns in my life that because I fear (cliche warning) being hurt, I fear having to endure more pitfalls and trials, so I try to beat trials to the punch. I try and adapt to situations that haven't happened yet. And in the process, what I'm scared of the most happens anyway. The things I try and avoid happen anyway because I've inadvertently caused them while trying so hard to avoid them. I've tried to run faster than I was able - and unfortunately - tried to drag people with me. They can't do it. And I can't let go of them when they can't keep up with my headlong dash down the mountain. I hope one day, they will overlook my weakness and forgive me for trying to push them along with me before they were ready.

I talked to a friend the other day who said they didn't know what I wanted. They were confused about what I was trying accomplish, and because of my fear of being hurt, caused them not want to be around me anymore - the very thing I was most scared of. The idea of "trying TOO hard" does exist. I tried too hard. I tried to grip Jello, and it squished through my fingers the harder I tried to hang on to it.

Like analogies, I also like irony. It's a powerful literary device that can be utilized in a variety of scenarios. Shakespeare was a master of irony, among every other literary device. He used dramatic irony - letting the audience in on the plan without the characters knowing. He's used it for humor, and most powerfully, he's used it to teach lessons, to drive a point home, and create situations that change his characters perceptions forever.

So in the spirit of cliches and literary devices - I've tried to blog about something worth blogging about. It's a personal liberty I feel I can take on my blog to explain how my life's journey is going. I've learned some pretty hard lessons the last years, and most particularly in the last 6 months, that have changed me and who I am. It's helped me realize I need to slow down, trust in that higher power that lovingly instructs and guides, and realize I need to learn to get back up on my own sometimes, or I'll never really learn. I know that I still have a lot left to learn. Lessons always keep coming and when one thing ends...well, you know the rest.


cheryl said...

I loved reading that, Andrea. It helped me also. Love you


Dixie said...

Andrea - I don't know you, but your post was returned in a search I did on google for "tribulation anaglogy" I saw a reference to sacrament meeting and clicked the link. I'm preparing a lesson for Relief Society - Lesson 31, "The Prophet in Liberty Jail, God shall be with you forever and ever" I appreciated your insight and thought the analysis was great. Keep going and good luck with your writing adventures. Who knew just anyone could find your blog. I hope you don't mind that I took a peek. You've got a better perspective on life than I did at 25. And I'm not that much older. But at 33, mother of 3 (soon to be 4) those trials just keep on coming. Thank heavens because I know I've still got a lot of refining to do. Thanks again for sharing...definitely blog worthy. Dixie from Colorado.