1. In February, I got to go to a Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert and it was a genuinely moving experience. The best part was their final song, when they sang "Come, Come, Ye Saints". It was so good! Pretend you've already cried several times because of sheer emotional musical power, and then watch this, start crying, and it will be like you were at the concert with me.
Whoa, amirite? This song is just the bomb. I understand why this song is the Mormon pioneer anthem. The Mormon pioneers did some really hard stuff, such as travel across the entire American continent in the dead of winter, and thousands of them died, and literally all of the newborn babies died, and they were starving, and got frostbite, and had to amputate their limbs, and cross frozen rivers, and had no shoes. But they persevered because traveling to Utah was the most important thing to them. I respect that.
The best part is the phrase "Why should we think to earn a great reward, if we now shun the fight?" Since I went to this concert, that phrase has sort of become my motto.
Like, why should I think to earn the great reward of _________
(a college degree, being a cooler person, having friends, looking good, success)
if I now shun the fight of _________
(homework, being less selfish, being friendly, exercising, working really hard)?
Basically, it reminded me that I can't expect to get something just because I really, really want it. It's the worst. Alternatively, just because something I want is difficult to obtain and it seems unlikely that I will get it, doesn't mean I shouldn't try. We have to fight for stuff we want.
2. Robby and I drove to Utah in May for his best friend's wedding and we listened to an audiobook of this biography on Lyndon B. Johnson. I know. That makes us sound super nerdy, but it was actually awesome and so entertaining. We decided we learned enough new information that we could consider the book a lower-level college class. Seriously, quiz me. I know tons of stuff about LBJ.
My takeaway from the book is that fear of failure is really dumb. The first part of the book was spent explaining Lyndon Johnson's rise to power. Apparently, from the time he was a child, he told everyone that he was going to be the president one day. He worked really hard and really carefully so that he could be the president. He excelled in school, made the right connections, politicked the right kind of politics, and eventually worked his way up to become Senate majority leader. Cool.
But then they start talking about Kennedy's background, which was basically the opposite of LBJ's. He did have a very wealthy family and lots of advantages, but he also was super sick for all of his childhood so he didn't do much with his connections. Long story short, JFK had chronic back pain as an adult and had to get multiple surgeries after he became a senator, and he missed a bunch of sessions. But, all of a sudden, he decided he wanted to run for president, and he just went for it.
JFK used his social connections (i.e. father) to run an awesome campaign. He tried really hard and met a lot of people, and *spoiler alert* got the nomination and then won.
And, with all this background information, it seems really unfair that JFK got to be the president and LBJ was just the vice-president (until, of course, Kennedy was assassinated). But the thing is that Johnson was afraid of failing, so when people asked him if he was planning to run for president, he just told them no, even though he reeeeeally wanted to. He didn't want to be embarrassed by having a failed run for president, so he didn't tell people he was interested in running until it was too late and everyone already supported JFK.
So, if I have learned anything in the year of 2012, it's that you can't earn a great reward if you shun the fight.