Sunday, March 29, 2009

Where Is the Place?

Genre: Religious
Artist: Steven Kapp Perry
Album: Come to the House of the Lord

This song is absolutely beautiful. It begins with a lonely singer who is trying to find peace on earth, and wondering if it really exists. She longs for a place that her heart can find home, where heaven and earth embrace. Then the choir answers her that such a place does exist in the temple. There she will find rest and revelation. Together, the choir and singer proclaim that just like Adam and Eve, we are all outcasts of Eden and trying to find our way Home again. The temple helps us achieve that purpose.

I was first introduced to this song when my beloved bishop, Bishop Harris, passed away. The ward choir sang it at his funeral. I love Bishop Harris. I remember how he would stand by the door and great everybody with a compliment. To my older sister, he always said, "Becky, you're my favor-right red-head." To me, he'd always say, "Kevin, you always bring such a great spirit to our meetings." He made us feel important and loved. I remember one Sunday in which my family didn't go to church. It seems like we were coming back from California or something. Anyway, Bishop Harris called us that evening to see if everything was alright and told us that he missed us at church. He was a great man!

Bishop Harris also was there when I received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained a deacon. He is the one who set me apart as the Deacon Quorum President and I remember the blessing he gave me to this day. I remember his push for temple attendance and had the entire ward focused on it. He worked a lot with the youth. I always felt like he was one of my best friends, even though I was only twelve or thirteen. What bishop has time for a twelve or thirteen-year-old? He did.

Shortly before he passed away, he got up in sacrament meeting and apologized to the ward because at the hospital, they had read his charts wrong and almost administered the wrong care, which would have killed him. He had gotten angry with the hospital staff for their carelessness. He apologized to us for not representing the Church well. I thought to myself during his apology, "Wow! I have Nephi for my bishop!" Nephi felt bad for getting angry because his brothers wanted to kill him. I wish that was my biggest sin. Well, maybe except for the part where my brothers want to kill me. I could live without that.

Every now and then I go to Bishop Harris's grave and I think about him. I always come away with a resolve to do better. He is one of the best men that I have ever known. I hope to one day be as great as him.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Second Star to the Right

Genre: Disney
Artist: Music and Lyrics by Sammy Cahn and Sammy Fain (and Sammy the Way-out Seal!)
Album: Peter Pan

Well, let's be honest. Can Kevin have a blog and not mention Peter Pan on it? Of course not. I actually cannot say that this is one of my favorite songs. To be perfectly honest, I love the music on Peter Pan, but the lyrics leave a lot to be desired. Not Disney's strongest movie for its songs, but the music and story more than make up for the rest. First of all, I love the opening of the song, and therefore the opening of the movie. The instruments come first, then the choir, and then Peter Pan's anthem, followed by a flute that makes me picture Tinker Bell flying down to an open window, where a young child is gazing out at the stars. Very strong imagery and very beautiful music. Then they start singing and it goes downhill. I just feel like they lose the awesome power they started with. According to an online source, the melody was actually written for Alice in Wonderland. Figures.

But the lyrics are not a total loss. "The second star to the right shines in the night for you to tell you that the dreams you plan really can come true." To me, that's what Neverland is: a place where dreams come true. Neverland is the symbol of all childhood hopes and dreams. But these dreams can be realized, so long as we continue wishing them, and doing all we can to make them come true. That Second Star is the best star to wish on, because it will lead you to Neverland.

I remember when I was younger, I would try to find the second star to the right. I would go out to the front lawn of my house in California and look up at the sky. But as I tried to find the second to the right, I would get confused because I wasn't even sure which one the first star was! Maybe once you are flying and you get closer you can tell the difference.

Peter Pan makes me think of a great childhood memory. I had gone to a birthday party for the Larmore twins and got a fun bag of candy at the end. My older brother, Danny, wanted some of my candy, but I was a selfish little boy and told him no. (After all, HE didn't go to the party and HE never shared his candy with me). Well, one day we are eating Peter Pan peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when Danny tells me, "Hey, did you know that if you eat Peter Pan peanut butter and then a piece of candy you can fly?" "Really?" I said. I totally believed him. "Of course! But since I told you, you need to let me have a piece too." "Ok!" So we both ate some of my precious candy and then went out front. We jumped off the bricks in front of the den window, only to land a couple inches below us on the grass. "Oh, darn. I guess it didn't work," Danny said. I wasn't so convinced. "Maybe we have to jump off something higher! Let's jump off the roof!" Danny talked me out of it, telling me that our mom wouldn't let us. I was sad and thought that my mom ruined all my fun. I don't know how many months it took to me realize Danny had conned me. Oh, well. It makes a great memory now. :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Out There

Genre: Disney
Artist: Music and Lyrics by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
Album: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This song begins with Frollo's lies to Quasimodo, promising him protection from the harsh, cruel world that would see him as nothing more than a monster. Once Frollo leaves, Quasimodo regrets the fact that he is not able to be part of the people below him. He notices the people below that shout and argue and don't enjoy the freedom they experience.

I often wonder what my life must seem like to others who might be watching me and I am not even aware of their existence. I am often bogged down by homework. I rarely have free time because I spend all of my time at work when I'm not in school. I constantly am tired and I long for a break, much like Quasimodo longed for a break from his own life. But then I think of my blessings.

First of all, I have not one job, but two! I literally have a few thousand dollars saved up just in preparation for marriage, not including money I have set aside for school, Disneyland trips, etc. The fact that I can go to Disneyland so often when I know of many good, wonderful people who will never have the chance to go in their entire lives. On top of that, both of my employers are wonderful! Dana, at the MTC, is a very understanding boss who takes a personal interest in the lives of his workers and does what he can to help them. Christy, at Deseret Book, is very dedicated to her job, quick with her wit and humor, and always makes herself available if I have a concern. She is also quick to praise any extraordinary performance.

Work aside, I also get to go to BYU! I also know of many people who do not have that opportunity that would like it. Some consider themselves lucky to go to any college at all. I have a car that gets me to places faster. It works wonderfully, even though the carpet inside is ripped up, there are slashes in my door, the "check engine" light never goes off even when I take my car in, and even though my CD player's quality isn't good. I still have a car! And it still has a CD player! I also have many friends! No matter where I go, there is almost always someone I can talk to.

With so many blessings, I need to be sure that I am not like the people Quasimodo observed who were "heedless of the gift it is to be them." My life can be hard, sure. But it is a great gift to be me. It is a great gift to be alive. I must treasure every instant, just as Quasimodo would if he were "out there" living my life.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hakuna Matata

Genre: Disney
Artist: Music and Lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice
Album: The Lion King

This is another song that takes me back to my high school days. Me and Kat Dillenbeck used to walk down the middle of the street at night singing this at the top of our lungs. Ha ha, what fun memories! I remember one time we were singing it as we walked by the local junior high school and the sprinklers were on. She suggested, as a joke, that we run through the sprinklers. I said, "Hakuna Matata!" and ran straight into the jet-stream of water. I was soaked, but it was so much fun!

Around the same time I was in the play "Much Ado about Nothing" at ALLC. I was playing Verges. My director, Eldon, decided to depict my character as Igor. Dr. Frankenstein's assistant. I loved my character so much that I would often walk with a limp and a hunched shoulder. One night, while I was acting in character, Kat told me to run and hop over a fence. I began to run across the street and tripped over my own legs (due to running with a limp) that I fell face forward into the asphalt. I got up laughing. Ah, what carefree nights! Whenever I listen to this song, I cannot help but go back to those days and smile.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Curse

Genre: Musical
Artist: Music by Kurt Bestor and Sam Cardon, Lyrics by Michael McLean
Album: Rigoletto

I absolutely love this song! Its message is profound and powerful: "There is no curse or evil spell that's worse than one we give ourselves." Bad things happen to us in life, but the worst thing we can do is react poorly to it. A person with a cruel heart is far worse than a person under a curse. "And yet we cry, 'life isn't fair!' Beneath our cries the truth is there: the power that will break this locked within ourselves." Instead of complaining, I should change my circumstances. Even the scriptures teach that man was created to act and not to acted upon. Why sit around resigned? If I am not happy with my life, then it is up to me to change it, to improve it.

"Yet we'd rather blame and curse our fate than change. We run from everyone to hide from the pain and all the shame." Such is the natural reaction. Such is my reaction. I would rather run from a situation where I could get hurt than go through the often-painful process of changing myself. But that doesn't change the truth. In order to become a better person, I need to be less prideful and not get upset so quickly at little things.

Isn't it remarkable how man is in charge of his own destiny? My life is whatever I make of it! Will I let life's problems overwhelm me and drag me down? No! I will make the necessary changes in my life so that I can find contentment and fulfillment. "The power that will break this curse . . . is locked within myself." When life is hard, I need only reflect on this song and then I remember to set that power free.