Of Transcendentalism and Counterculture

Forest pathwayWhen one has spent most of his life lounging and binging, and then, in a time of unprecedented willpower, he pushes himself into fitness, achieving a runner’s high, the world around him starts to glow. His ignorance is dispelled, his perspective irrevocably changed. Suddenly everyone around him who hasn’t yet partaken of this fruit appears unenlightened.

To apply this principle to philosophy, when for years one has been warned against a certain behavior or idea, and then she discovers that this forbidden fruit is, in fact, sweet, she also experiences a high, and everyone around her who hasn’t tasted of this fruit appears unenlightened.

This happens throughout the world. The enlightened seek out those of like-minds. Together they laugh at the ignorance they’d once known. They seek out additional transcendent experiences, wondering how else has their culture suppressed them? Suddenly they are truth seekers on heroes’ journeys, on holy quests against ignorance.

But the world appears to be more random than they’d romanticized. They discover that there’s no dark force trying to keep them in ignorance, that the intentions of those around them are mostly good, if near-sided. Yet the feelings of transcendence are addicting, so the enlightened seek out new thresholds to breech.

They find one, though the afterglow is not as powerful as that of the first. While the first endowed them with pure truth, the second is something of a half truth. But a half truth is better than no truth at all, so they take what they can get, and once again, the feeling satisfies their needs. Almost. With the domino effect in motion, they press forward, though the pickings are getting scantier. Now and then they’re rejuvenated by a full truth, but often they have to settle for more half truths, here and there a quarter truth.

Meanwhile a new culture arises: counterculture. The enlightened spend their time deconstructing the facades of their predecessors. They satirize ignorance. In contrast to sanctimony, they espouse irreverence. To make a point, they replace didactic conventions with a celebration of frivolity. In contrast to unfounded judgment, they cease to make any judgments. They embrace anything that fits the tone of their new culture, always in search of new ideas with which to break up the monotony. Each deconstruction releases a bit more energy, mimicking the glow of that first transcendent experience.

Then there’s a problem. There’s nothing left to deconstruct. The satire is no longer funny. The irreverence is … irreverent. The profane profane. The frivolous frivolous. A culture of counterculture, with no pretenses, no facades, and no judgment is a beginning, but it leaves its citizens wanting. They’re warned against partaking of the forbidden fruits of the old culture.

And then one partakes, and the feeling is addicting.

A True Friend Gives Me Candy

Stephen and Aspen Gashler with candy from an anonymous "true friend"Yesterday I made an idle lets-pass-the-time-at-work-with-silly-Facebook-comments comment in which I declared that true friends would leave me candy bars on my doorstep. What was my surprise when I learned today that Timp Floral had delivered me a basket full of king-sized candy from an anonymous “true friend”. Whoever you are, gallant soul, you must be knighted! In any case, this valiant deed has spared all of my Facebook friends form an untimely purging. You may all rest in peace. It’s as if, in some mystical way, I was just taught the true meaning of friendship … which is exactly what I thought it was: a true friend is someone who brings you candy.

My Interview with Author Margot Hovley

This is episode 4 of my show, in which In interview Margot Hovley, author of The End Begins series. She shares some great writing tips, as well as cool ideas such as surviving the EMP bomb and rediscovering the skills of our ancestors. Also, the nefarious Nefi Ledezma finally gets his comeuppance from his mother-in-law.

The Lady of Utah Lake

This is┬áthe story I took 2nd place with and the Audience Choice Award at the Utah’s Biggest Liar contest on April 1st, 2015. I regret that the audio’s not very good. I’m thinking of expanding the story into a novel. Maybe a film. (National Treasure meets Utah.)

My General Conference Notes

These are my notes from the 2015 Spring General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because the Spirit doesn’t use words to speak to our hearts, why should I? Though if a picture is a thousand words, I guess this counts as 32,000. Next time I would appreciate it if the general authorities would stop swivelling their heads and the video team would stop changing the angles.


Our Advenure at Utah’s Biggest Liar 2015

It wasIMG_0959 an evening full of intrigue and suspense. There were so many brilliant storytellers and fantastic stories. Our six-year-old Ariah told her story about the time she accidentally let a cheetah out of her imagination in ballet class. She took first place and the Audience Choice award.

Our three-year-old Aspen (holding the record for the youngest competitor) told about the time her baby brother Percy accidentally fell into a chocolate cake and became a cake monster. It was hard to see her struggle to remember the story over long, silent gaps. After the fact, she told us with pride that she’d followed daddy’s advice to put more pauses into her story. (Head-smacking moment.) Mysteriously, she’d decided to surprise us by never following this advice until the actual performance. Though she was still adorable, and the audience loved her.

Teresa was smooth and entertaining in her story about Elmer the evil puppet. I had the burden of going very last, which meant I had to suffer the longest period of butterfly attacks. I told my National-Treasure-esque story about searching for the holy grail of Utah Valley. I took second place and the Audience Choice Award.

One storyteller joked that our family had the deck stacked. Fair enough.