Friday, December 9, 2011

What they say really is true...

"You'll want to arrive on time this Thursday," Professor Stice told my Accounting class of over 500 students. "Being the last day of class, we will have a special treat." I was sure not to be late for this mystery opportunity.

When I walked into the large lecture hall that Thursday I didn't realize for a few moments the presence of a very familiar face on the stage with Professor Stice. Today we had a special guest: Norm Nemrow. Here at BYU, Norm is the friend/nemesis of all enrolled in the Introduction to Accounting course. Despite his recent retirement, Norm's software lessons are used to this day at BYU as well as Harvard University. Accounting students spend hours and hours listening to his quirky, lengthy, but very instructive lessons. But all in all, his lecture today was very little about accounting and very much about life.

Norm was a successful businessman. He had a lot of what the world has to offer, but has since tried to distance himself from wealth. "Money won't make you happy," he told us. And in the sometimes wealth-obsessed demographic I'm a part of that was wonderfully refreshing to hear. Yes it's important to take care of your family. Yes it's important to work hard. But the fleeting little extras that come along with money are, in the end, not worth worrying about. In fact, they can do more harm than good if unchecked.

Just after the lecture I received one of my Dad's classic multi-message texts. It's been a difficult semester for me in more ways than one and he was offering his support and encouragement. He was excited about my life. He had thought about my needs and my goals and wanted to give me his advice. It ended simply with, "I love you, Ian."

Perhaps one day I could be the greatest businessman to ever walk the earth. I could move mountains, revolutionize life as we know it. I could have all the money in this world. But with every ounce of wealth I might possess, I could never buy that message from my Dad. Stored on the tiny microchips of my phone's memory are words worth far more than money. "You have it all right now," Norm told us. And I really do. I really do.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Land and the Ocean

I am a mere summer's ocean to you
A fleeting view
Neither old nor new
Just undulating blue

But for you I would be that entire bay
That if you looked again
Part of me might stay
Within your sight

But what good is the sea to a girl?
What good is the surf to a being so great that she passes o'er it so easily
By boat, by bridge, by plane
That little of my vastness remains

Please... go where you will, as free as you can possibly be
Though I would that you should linger
I will speak in constant waves
A call to some, a cry to others, but to you- only waves.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why I love "The Notebook"

I’m not a film expert. As far as my film credentials go, all I can claim is that for two years I lived in Los Angeles. But as an LDS missionary in those two years I was anything but a film critic at the time.

However, I believe I know why movies are such an integral part of our society and our world. Because I know what it is to come to the end credits of a film and realize that for two hours I was in a completely different reality, loving every moment. I know what it’s like to be genuinely afraid of a character in a film simply because the acting was so excellent. I know what it is to put myself in the shoes of a hero and live his adventure and save the world if only for a few fleeting scenes. For these and many other reasons, I love movies.

Now, there are a lot of really terrible movies out there- stagnant, disconnected, incoherent, brittle films that provide ample material for film critics. I find it sad that so much creative energy on the part of these critics is wasted blasting what ought to have been better-executed creative works. But the fact that there are such “better-executed” works out there is why there are even movie critics at all. And our eager searching of the “weekend” section of the paper for one of these less common reviews shows just how much we hope to find one.

Yet even positive reviews say only so much. In the world of films, there are those critically acclaimed and others that are merely “popular” but not so beloved by critics. There is likely no better example of this than “The Notebook.” While critics condemn, I think this should be considered a modern classic.

On, the Notebook is given the condemning green splatter and a mere 52% rating. Some call it sappy, others unrealistic. Some say it will stop at nothing to jerk tears from the viewers’ eyes. But to me, this story of summer love lost and found again against great odds and against all reason, will forever be one of my favorites. And it will be because it does what I think makes a film truly great.

Contrary to popular belief, I feel it stays within the bounds of possibility, if not likelihood. And the same reason I love this in an action film- keeping the character believable but meanwhile mind-blowing for the audience- is why I love it in a romance. One is lost in an almost dream-world only to realize that perhaps such things really do exist. Perhaps love so strong, love so inexplicably beautiful could be real.

And I’m writing this because such love is real. Being so bright as I am it took me a little while into the film when I watched it for the first time to realize who the elderly couple was, but as soon as I knew, they were no longer characters to me. They were two people that I know and love very dearly.

Nearly a decade ago my grandmother suffered a stroke, leaving her unable to speak, unable to move half of her body, and completely dependent. But every day since that stroke, my grandfather has been at her side, helping her through each struggle. In their little house in the desert hills of California, he tirelessly tends to her needs, even though she is unable to say anything in return.

When it hit me who Duke and Mrs. Calhoun really were I didn’t dismiss the whole film as a foolish fairy tale, I instantly knew how real and true the story was. I knew that Noah loved Allie so deeply because I know how truly Glen loves Ruth.

The Notebook captured a notion of love that some considered too improbable and fantastical, but in the fashion of a truly great film, it reminded me that such dreams really can and really do come true.