One of my most exhilarating experiences is familiar and comfortable. Though not common, it is regular. I know you have experienced this as well. What you call it, however, may vary some.
Let me explain with an example. I love the thesaurus. That statement may not surprise you, since it was made by the author of this article. As a writer, I have come to love the thesaurus. Weird.
Well, maybe. A thesaurus is an essential tool for me, at least. I use it every time I write. For example, let’s say I want to discuss the euphoria I feel when I begin composing prose. Euphoria? You might ask how anyone can feel that kind of emotion when writing is involved. I get it. Your memory of composition may include the final history test in which you were asked to draft a position on the significance of the year 1861 to the Civil War and clarify the multitude of idle rights then that nearly pulled this nation apart.
My point? I used the thesaurus at least a half-dozen times to compose that last paragraph, and it made my task of writing easier, better, and more delightful for both the writer (me) and the reader (you).
You may ask, “What does that have to do with anything?” My answer: Absolutely everything is influenced by our attitude when it comes to effectively handling situations. But what makes composition a life-changing experience is what occurs outside of one’s control. And this is not exclusive to the publication industry. It happens everywhere—all the time, rhetorically speaking—and yet I don’t think it can be forced.
Mathematicians feverishly try to find the answer that is right at their fingertips, and the brush of the artist flows like a hot knife through butter. Every touch, every stroke improves the outcome and the completed painting is providential. The batter that hits a home run with every swing may be another manifestation of this sweet spot. Some call it tender mercies, divine guidance, or pure knowledge. Others refer to it as in the mode or in the groove or perhaps luck…there are many ways to refer to this unlikely situation when everything just clicks.
During that moment, you can’t make a mistake. Every move is perfect. Every note is better than the last. You never want it to end. You are at the top of your game…then suddenly, it’s over. You try to get it back. You follow what you were doing all along, but despite your desire, motivation, and intensity, you are on your own and the fleeting ecstasy of that perfect harmony and rhythm is now gone.
I remember this happening once on the golf course. Now, I am an amateur golfer at best. My colleagues are all much better than I, and I am ok with that. But there was a time my son invited me to join him and his friends for a round of golf. My boy and I had never golfed together up to this point. I approached the green and tried to look like I knew exactly what I was doing. I didn’t. The last thing I wanted was to embarrass my son in front of all his friends, and since we had never golfed together, he had no idea what to expect. I put the ball on the tee and prepared by taking a couple practice swings. Okay, I’m ready. I step up to the tee to give it a go. My first drive was 400 yards. Nobody was more surprised than me, but I tried to look unimpressed.
Does that sound familiar? When this kind of thing happens to you, is it startling? As I said, one cannot force this to occur, but for me it happens regularly when I write. I first experienced this when I was in college. The instance was after an all-nighter trying to get a paper done. It was an “all-nighter” because the words were not coming together. I struggled to get my thoughts down on paper. Honestly, I struggled to collect my thoughts at all, and then it happened. I guess I had finally demonstrated enough effort because in the final moments before I had to get my paper completed and turned in, the light broke wide open and the paper came together seemingly on its own.
To me it is pure knowledge coming from above. Instead of composing verbiage by combining nouns, verbs, adjectives and the like, complete sentences fill my mind in succession and my task is to capture them as quickly as I can before they are gone. It may last ten minutes or an hour, but it is typically fleeting and comes and goes on its own terms. I don’t understand it completely yet, but my personal opinion is that at times, for reasons not entirely clear to us, we have heavenly help that increases our ability and makes us better than we could be on our own.
I have seen this happen for my son when he is composing music. From somewhere, he combines notes, tempo, and harmony in such a way that it thrills the heart and mind. The task is therapeutic for him as well. But when he performs in front of an audience, he is at his best. With a band and vocals, he is in his element. I will always remember the times we went to the Velour to watch him perform. I was probably the oldest person in the theater, but that was okay because he wanted me there, and that is exactly where my wife and I wanted to be.
For a period of time, we had the privilege of supporting my son on his music journey, and we still enjoy today the albums he produced at the time. But the ride is not over. It continues even now and is still happening in earnest. The stage and the music have changed, however. Now his performance is in his home with a family. His band includes two incredible little boys and a beautiful, loving wife. But the music they make together is better than anything he has ever produced before, which is really saying something. Even he doesn’t realize the amazing feat he is accomplishing. Realization and appreciation take time, perspective, and patience.
And those are some things one has in abundance at my age. For me, it is easy to see the paybacks of authenticity, esteem, discipline, and endurance. You see, I have the benefit of hindsight and experience, something dearly acquired yet easily overlooked. But you and I both will eventually have it in spades. We all will, because a kind and loving Heavenly Father prepared a plan that ensures success for every one of us that is willing to follow His lead and accept the reward He has already won for us and all those that humble themselves and endure to the end—all of us.
Like the rod of iron, our loved ones give us something worthwhile to hold onto every time we consider the beautiful family we have now and the importance of eternal families in the world to come. My grandsons do that for me every time I admire them.
And if your family circumstances are not perfect and far beneath what you were hoping for now, realize that too is temporary and sometimes fleeting in this life—but exhilarating, comfortable, and familiar is what waits for you in the world to come. You are already headed in the right direction. Hope, repentance, faith, and success all start with desire. In this crazy world of ours, that is what we control.
Righteous desires put us on the path that leads to the happiness we are all seeking. Meanwhile, we can work toward an eternally happy family that seems to have it all together— and because of Jesus Christ, we can hope for the day when there are no more troubles and everything just clicks.
“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” – Joseph Smith
About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.