Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Bonds of Brotherhood

I find the ties that bind to be a very interesting topic. What causes people to come together, to enjoy one another's company, and to be friends. Often it is a commonality that brings two people or more together. What I find interesting is that it is generally the lack of a certain attribute or belief within a microcosm that will cause people who poses it to become friends. For example, I am left handed, no one would think of being right handed as a basis for friendship, because you would have to be friends with nearly everyone. Being left handed on the other hand makes you unique and when you find another person with that uniqueness it binds you together. Several of my close friendships have been with other south paws, yours may have been to but it may not have been defining for you the way it was for me (unless of course you also are left handed, in which case we are probably very good friends, or would be).

The more a group of people are the same the more minute the details that make friends, the more a group is different the more broad those attributes can be. For example in most places two people being mormons is a reason for them to bind together as friends, they immediately know that certain things about them will be the same and different from those around them. In Utah this is not the case, nobody is friends simply because they are both members of the Church, you would have to be friends with everyone you met, and that would be overwhelming. This was very prevalent on my mission with Africans, whenever my friend Elder Fayanni met another African there was an immediate bond just on the principle that they were from the same continent. They may not even speak the same language natively, in Africa they may have wanted to kill each other, but in Philadelphia that continental heritage was enough to forge an instant friendship.

This is found everywhere you go even if you don't always think about it. At the root of most of our closest relationships is a commonality that at least brought us together initially and may still be a binding factor in the friendship.

I think a major reason for this is that sharing a common set of experience or knowledge cuts the way more quickly from a very surface form of communication we use when we first meet someone and allows you to dive deeper into things that are more meaningful and personal. You know there will be things you wont have to explain to this person and you know that they will understand simple references, or certain feelings. This is a wonderful thing although sometimes it is very healthy to interact with people who have little in common with us so that we might have to explain things and thereby better understand ourselves.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The simple chef: Throwing out the rules

Hi, I'm your host, the simple chef, and since I previously told you the two rules for being a simple chef, I am now going to tell you how this week I threw those rules out the window. It happened when I found myself standing in my closet, I mean kitchen, looking at my wife's computer screen. You may ask why I was looking at my wife's computer, the reason for this is because my wife had just walked out the door to go for a run and I was suppose to be making dinner, the recipe for dinner was from an infamous place known as Pinterest, and that is not something that happens on my computer. Hence my wife had left me with the recipe displaying on her computer, Creamy Garlic Pasta.

No you careful students of the simple culinary arts will immediately say "use rule #1, follow the directions of the recipe exactly, to the minute and teaspoon, and all will be well." Well, all would be well if the recipe was on a box and inside the box was nicely packaged ingredients that the recipe called for, this however, was not the happy situation in which I found my simple self. In point of fact the reason I was still staring at the computer screen instead of standing at the stove was that not only were the ingredients not inside a box, most of the ones listed on this place known as pinterest were also not inside my closet, er I mean kitchen.

This is where we break rule number two, because, as you faithful students of simplicity will recall, the act of using whatever ingredients come to mind or hand, or both, is never to be used in conjunction with a recipe. So here I find myself, orange apron on and ready to cook and my rules have flown out the window. But being the resourceful individual I am I quickly recovered and went to work. Chicken stock became a can of chicken broth from the bottom shelf (I briefly considered making my own from bullion cubes, but lets not be extreme), and linguine substituted nicely (well functionally might be a better word) for angel hair. I chose a large pot since the place known as pinterest neglected to give me a size, and olive oil and butter I actually found. Minced garlic in a can is really the same thing as cloves anyway so I gave a generous amount of that to my concoction and sprinkled about an unspecified amount of parsley. Mozzarella is practically a cousin to parmesan anyway so that was fine. And in the end if the sauce was a little to thin that just meant there was plenty left over for my ramen the next day.

And that my friends is how things got a little more complicated for the simple chef.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thoughts of a Sixteenth Grade Something: Pinocchio and the Humanity of Self Denial

Its time for another the stroll through synapses of Ben's brain. This particular instance occurred while on the way to school. Meagan and I drive to school and along the way we pass one of Provo's finer establishments a little place called Ozz. Ozz as it happens is "family fun center" it just happens to be a little bit ghetto and appears to actually be a pool hall fronting as a mexican restaurant, weird I know.

Anyway I remarked that instead of going to school we could just go to Ozz, because of Ozz's ambiance this led me to think of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio, they seem to be similar. This thought led me to consider Pinocchio and the scene at pleasure island, something I have not done in depth previously because I don't really like Pinocchio as a disney film, however my memory of it was recently refreshed by the ride at disney land which I visited in August. At this juncture I reflected on what happens on Pleasure Island, Pinocchio is convinced by his friend to go there and they glut and squander themselves on anything and everything they desire. All the boys who come to pleasure island eventually turn into donkey's, even Pinocchio. On this occasion I considered the deeper meaning in this story.

Why do the boys become donkey's after their experience on the Island? I believe this points to a natural experience, that an essential part of being human is the act of self denial, this is what elevates man above the animals. The ability to consciously deny yourself something that you want because you conceive of achieving something greater if you do, this is a wholly human attribute. Therefore this lesson is shown to us as the wooden boy transforms before our eyes from even the image of human, which he was before, into what he has become, an animal focused only on the desire of the moment.

Unfortunately many people today are sold the idea that all their wants are right and that they should seek immediately whatever they might want regardless of consequences. This idea is sold to the world by Satan and countless people swallow it, hook, line, and sinker. The act of self denial is to exercise agency, which is the gift of God, the act of seeking immediate fulfillment is to live by instinct as do the beasts. The more a person chooses to satisfy and please their immediate senses the less human they become. Since I haven't actually watched Pinocchio in many many years I cannot remember if this lesson is explicitly pointed out, but it is certainly there, and it is certainly a lesson worth learning.

Just a thought, from the way to school.