Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

January 31, 2011

On turning 69, the Challenger and Eqypt...

Ok, on turning 69, not much to say about that, except the day didn't turn out as I had wished. It was Friday, Jan 14th, by the way, and I was tired of too frequent bladder issues, so decided to go to the Instacare and check my blood sugar. It had been normal a few months ago, but I had a too sweet Christmas and I didn't trust some offshore generic meds I had gotten because my American made ones were too costly lately.

Turns out I had a lot of glucose in my urine and my blood sugar was 457! Yikes! What's going on? The doc gave me some brand name Actos samples, my most important diabetes med, and told me to call my regular doc on Tuesday. He started me on insulin when he tested me again at 428. So it's been a week of much testing and at this point, I've gotten the sugars down to 268. I'm doing a major food overhaul and weight loss again to try to fix this if possible. Not a great birthday present, but obviously a necessary attention getter.

And speaking of space shuttles, Thursday was the 25th anniversary of the Challenger blowup on lift off. Yes, I remember it too. I was laid up in a hospital in Kahuku Hawaii, trying to recover from a strep infection in my lower right leg, which I since have identified as cellulitus from several recurrences of it here in Utah this past decade. Very painful and thank goodness for antibiotics! But lying there watching that amazing take off and then seeing that explosion take a dozen dedicated lives so soon after heading into space, was a wrenching and numbing experience. It has since made me wonder if our incessant quest for outer space is worth it in lives and dollars over so many years, something we are told is important and in our national interest, until we experience such a loss. Or whether we had such a loss or not.

And speaking of challenges, Colleen had accepted an assignment to direct a youth choir for our Orem Stake Conference Sunday meeting yesterday. It took four weeks of rehearsals once a week with some fairly challenging kids, good volunteers but some not good singers. So we had to get the good singers to sing louder than the weak ones without the weak ones singing too loud too. Confused? As it turned out, they sounded good collectively - a little soft, but able to finish out well. I had a little gliche with some of the hymns, some late changes I never got, so had to push the panic button and alert the music people last minute. Colleen is still mentally and phyically worn out from that and work this week and sleeping 12 hours a day since.

And our conference speaker Kevin Pearson of the Seventy, was riveting in his rhetorical strength and spiritual depth. As he especially talked about Lehi's Dream and the Tree of Life Saturday night, one of the most important things to remember was just to..."stay close to the tree", which symbolized the love of God. That was his theme on Sunday too, to remember all the many ways our Father shows he loves us - individually.

And now to the Middle East, starting with unrest in Tunisia, and then all hell breaking loose in the streets of Eqypt this past week. There they were, some of my favorite pyramid builders' children's children, taking out their frustrations from 30 years of dictatorship under Pharaoh Hosni Mubarik and his military machine. Some rioters even looted their own museum and tore off the head of a mummy. Man, that's cold. Eventually people will rise up when oppressed too long though but seemingly some democratic process might come out of it - or another despotic regime, who knows?

But it raises a lot of questions about that geo-political area, especially among the Israelis, who do not want another "let my people go" moment with Eqypt. How will it all end? Is there anything about this and other events that signals the great second coming of the very Jesus these people rejected there? That's my main focus and am always looking for signs of that event - so I will stay riveted on cable news, as they monitor that as well such mundane things as another predicted crippling winter snowstorm from the midwest to the east coast this week and whatever will be its aftermath. Might even seem apocalyptic for a few days. And I love snow a lot, but would I feel the same way after so many big white dumps. All I can say is...YES! I'm old man snowman and never ashamed to admit it.

September 22, 2010

Sunday Morning Epiphanies and "Inception"...

It was in that quick transition from dream state to waking up last Sunday morning, that I somehow felt a kind of realization and release. Release from guilt that I have from buying and enjoying so many books! It felt like a moment of vindication, perhaps elicited by some disdain I felt from my wife the other day, asking to see a little stack of books I had on the fold-out table beside the chair in the family room. When I showed them to her, she said nothing upon looking at their titles. Just stony, baffled silence.

But to me, they are what keeps my mind alive and active, giving me hope of discovering new ideas and insights. . I've often talked about having a life of the mind. I am constantly defining myself by my books and the important ideas their authors share. Since I never really had a successful career or job identity, and so much of what I did was an eclectic hodgepodge of this and that, it helps me to keep looking for a life identity perhaps, something I can hang my searchings on, my sometimes desperate desire to know who I am and still do something significant with my life with an ongoing project of fitting life puzzle pieces together.

Lately, I've been reading Lou Marinoff and his philosophical counseling movement expressed in books like "Plato Not Prozac" and "The Middle Way". Here's something I could get into and do if I could get certified. . I have a minor in philosophy. I love philosophical questions, though they don't always engender answers I can always agree with. I'm guess I'm just more of an LDS/Christian/Thinker I think, seeking ideas and connections with scripture, history and the present, with the good, the true and the beautiful...kind of like Mulder's "The truth is out there" but with no conspiratorial focus. I'm nowhere near the level of a Hugh Nibley or Truman Madsen, but they are some of my religious and philosophy heroes, as are some of the General Authorities of my church like Neal Maxwell, Jeff Holland, scholars, teachers and men of God..

I have also gotten some books by renowned scholar Joseph Campbell recently too, because he has explored cultural history through myth and the meanings of our collective unconscious and symbols. I like to read his writings without sacrificing scripture or anything which affirms the marvelous life and atonement of Christ the Savior. I'm just seeking meaning and purpose and fulfillment and self-actualization, that's all. And I'd like to make some money while I'm at it! It's been such a curse for me to have to make money at one thing, while always wishing I was doing something else. Now Colleen takes up that slack for as long as she can, an inspirational teacher to the disabled and mentally impaired at Riverton High School.

That "something else" I refer to for me though was probably teaching, while I had the chance at BYU-Hawaii...in English. But I was always so distractible, so interested in so many things, filled with creativity to try different things, filled with ideas to try out in different ways - just couldn't settle on teaching, especially when I got flattered out of the classroom by our VP who told me I was a great writer and could really make use of that as University Relations Director, working directly under the President. And the money was better too. But the job security wasn't. It was a hot seat and I didn't last that long, as some of my management and administrative flaws were exposed, though my creativity flourished for four years.

So I surround myself with good books, shelf friends with great ideas and conversations going on inside them, since they seem to be the only ones who want to engage me and me them in discussion and idea exchange that makes me want to keep living. No one else in my life is very interested in what I'm thinking or studying it seems. I can't live in the mundane very long. And I really do feel as one philosopher said, "The unexamined life is not worth living". So to keep living, I have to keep examining...and writing about things that don't mean much to anyone else, but which in some way help me sift and sort and try to make sense of my my world....does that make sense?

And oh yes, I saw the movie "Inception", previewed it the other night before taking Colleen. Don't know if she would like it though, as convoluted and confusing as it was. But it was, after all the hoopla and special effects, about the power of ideas and how to get a great or important idea into the mind of someone through getting into their dreams. And so I come back to dreams, as I said. I may have been at the end of a dream, when I woke up Sunday morning. But it felt empowering to feel that my love of good books, having them around to pick up and scan for an interesting idea, using them for resource and research, expanding my fields of knowledge while trying to make more connections and at the same time know who I am better... was somehow ok to me, as much as others don't understand it and may even think I'm crazy for it.