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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Listen to Life

My fiancée, Kim, mentioned something the other day I've thought about ever since. She said "listen to life" and "gather stories to share with others."

Wherever I go, that's something that I love to do: listen to life.

In Nauvoo
On long walks in Nauvoo I was fascinated by the life of Joseph Smith, his last dream, and the faith and determination of the early pioneers. I would gaze at the Mississippi river for hours and revel in the shades of a red sunset and the sounds of a steamboat.

While living in Nakhodka, I was completely enraptured by the culture and feel of that small Russian harbor town. Whenever the leaves change color, and the autumn breeze picks up, my soul drifts back to the streets of Nakhodka and I can almost sense the smells, the sights and the sounds of that town. Years later, my attachment to Russia would beckon me to read some of the greatest literature ever written: Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Chekov.

Later in life, I gathered many other things through listening: a profound appreciation for the Iliad, the Odyssey, and equally epic Civil War stories, while living in Virginia. A deep, almost mystical, and soul-stretching love and respect for Native American culture, history and legends while working at the ANASAZI Foundation. Overwhelming admiration for the Russian people and the stories of their victory during World War II.

Interviewing and learning from sculptors, artists, musicians, philosophers, CEOs, teachers, politicians and other remarkable individuals without titles to their names.

And the stories that I have gathered. The people whom I admire! The incredible story of Joshua Chamberlain and his victory at Gettysburg. The epic endurance and eventual triumph of the Soviets during the siege of Leningrad---through music. Benazir Bhutto, the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. Leo Tolstoy, the man who inspired Ghandi through his writings and many, many more!

Add to that stories from the lives of my friends; people who have overcome overwhelming odds and are now giants among men.

And the literature I have read. Oh, how the world is filled with beautiful and inspiring words! The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis, Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky, Joseph Smith's Last Dream by W. W. Phelps, The Seven Paths of the ANASAZI Way, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Shack by William P. Young, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Neal A. Maxwell, David McCullough, William Shakespeare, Plato and so many others!

Life is filled with so many wonderful things...if only we listen for them.

That, perhaps, is a long-winded way of telling you that I'm adjusting the theme of my blog---and my writing, for that matter. I'm going to listen more to life and share what I hear with you. I want to take stories, ideas, and accounts from all around the world and share them with you in a meaningful way. I want whatever I write to be inspiring and influential.

There is so much to learn in listening to life.