Great Works of Literature

I have been trying to read more in recent months, and while the general focus of my reading is on business and personal development, I also try and read some fiction that is a little more entertaining.

One of my favorite movies is The Count of Monte Cristo, so as I was trying to find a good fiction book to read I decided to look it up.  Sure enough it was just the right price on the Kindle, free, so I downloaded it.

Spoiler alert for those who have seen the movie but not read the book, they are absolutely nothing alike other than the overall premise.  With that being said it has been an enjoyable journey these past few weeks.

As is often the case in books, the characters are far more developed than the movie.  Though my favorite character from the movie, Jacopo, plays an almost non-existent role in the book, there are other endearing characters in the book that don’t exist in the movie.

I didn’t read many of the classics while going through school, and the ones I was required to read were analyzed through the use of Cliffs Notes.  Now that I am older I certainly have a much greater appreciation for the quality of writing and storytelling that many of these classics have, though the size still makes many of them quite daunting.

In a time filled with so much shallow writing based on shock value, I am incredibly grateful for great works of literature that can really expand my mind.

What are you grateful for?

Beautiful Craftsmanship Awes Me

I have always really enjoyed working with my hands and building things.  Wood shop was always my favorite class because I just love the moulding of unfinished wood into something truly beautiful or even just useful.
I was recently witness to what may be the most awe-inspiring piece of wood work that I have ever seen.  It is a sanctuary of peace in Thailand that is made entirely of wood.  They have been working on it for 36 years and it still isn’t finished.

I would love to give you more numbers about how big it is or stuff like that, but there was very little information available there.  What I can tell you is that the craftsmanship and attention to detail on this thing is just insane.  
The pictures that I have included don’t even do it justice, but they give you a little idea of the magnitude of work involved in this project.  Even more impressive to me is that all of the carving is done by hand.  There were probably 50 or so people still working with hammers and chisels on various parts of the structure.

I find it hard to adeqautely describe just how awe inspiring it truly was.  I don’t follow the religious beliefs that this sanctuary reflected but I have great respect for the efforts involved to show their commitment to their faith.

I find equal inspiration from the LDS temples I have visited all over the world.  There is just something powerful to me about applying your craft in devotion to a higher being, whatever name you may give that being.
Great craftsmen have existed as long as there has been something to craft, and I will forever be in awe of their works.  That is why tonight I am grateful for beautiful craftsmanship.

What are you grateful for?

A Beautiful Sunset

This is something that I think most people enjoy, at least at some point in their lives.  Watching a beautiful sunset, even if only for a minute, can go a long ways towards making it a good day.

Some of my fondest memories from high school are sitting on a park bench overlooking the Salt Lake Valley and watching the sunset with my girlfriend.  It didn’t need to be anything other than that to be a great evening.While I lived in San Diego, I spent many an evening riding my motorcycle along the coast, or pulling off the road to sit on the beach and watch the sunset.  It is just such a peaceful time to relax and rejuvenate.  
Now that I get to fly regularly I get to see some of the most beautiful sunsets ever, from the air.  Being in the front of the plane provides for some incredible views in many  of the different places I have visited.

I think one of the best things about sunsets is that everyone gets to enjoy them.  It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, what country you live in, if you are healthy or sick.  The beauty of a sunset is something that can literally be enjoyed by anyone, if they only care enough to look.I will forever enjoy the peace that can come at the end of a long day, which is why I am grateful for beautiful sunsets.
What are you grateful for?

Different Cultures are Fascinating

One of the best parts about living in Japan has been all of the amazing cultures that I have been able to experience during my time here.  The Japanese culture itself has been incredible to learn about, but that is just the start.

I have been able to work with people from Japan, England, Australia, New Zealand, and the Phillipines.  On top of that, I have gotten to visist Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Nepal, Indonesia, and Guam.  I realize Guam is part of the US, but it does have its quirks.

This is not an attampt at a humble brag as much as it is an idea of the many different cultures I have gotten to experience.  They all have different foods, languages, religions, historical sites, and the list goes on.  

If I’m being honest there is a decent chance I never would have visited Asia had I not actually lived here, and what a loss to my life that would have been.  It has not all been tulips and rose petals here, in fact it has been quite the opposite, but it has been an eye opening experience.  

Most of us Americans have no idea just how great we have it.  Even those living in poverty in the US have it better than billions of people in Southeast Asia.  Yet many of the people here are very pleasant and welcoming.  

We loud boisterous Americans could learn a lot from the humble demeanor of these cultures.  Many of them are very tied to family.  They all sacrifice so much to take care of each other and to just get through.

Every time I visit one of these developing nations, I am in shock at how far behind the rest of the world is.  They live such basic lives, and most have so little to live for.  But not only do many of them live, they thrive.   

Not usually financially, but in the areas of kindness and openness that they personify, there are few equals in the world, with maybe the exception of the Africans I met in Europe.  They are the kindest, most open minded individuals I have ever know.

There is so much we could learn from each other if we would simply try to understand the other side.  If you consistenyly do that, you will find a peace and joy that cannot be masked, which is why I am grateful for different cultures.

What are you grateful for?

Thai Food

I have loved Thai food since the first time I had it in Seattle about 13 years ago.  It is just so freaking delicious.  

I have been to Thailand a few times now and the food is different than in America as usual but is still incredibly delicious.  It doesn’t even have to be spicy either.

If you haven’t ever had it I highly recommend you do.  Having just been there to enjoy it again, I am super grateful for Thai Food.

What are you grateful for?

Heroes on Hacksaw Ridge

There are so many great people that have lived in this world, and that currently live in this world.  I absolutely love it when I get to meet those heroic people.  

Unfortunately, we are losing more and more of the heroes from WWII everyday which means that many of their stories will be lost forever.  One of those unbelievable stories was recently made into a movie titled Hacksaw Ridge.  

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  The short version of the story is that this heroic man, Desmond Doss, refused to pick up a weapon, but wanted to do his part in the war effort.  So he volunteered as a medic in the Army.

Spoiler alert: he went on to save 75 men by carrying them off the battlefield and lowering them off the side of a hill known by the Americans as Hacksaw Ridge.  He was the first noncombatant to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
While I did recently see the movie, which I again highly recommend, my gratitude for this hero was brought on today by visiting the site of the actual Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa, Japan.  While much of the area is now covered with buildings and a very large cemetary, it was still awe inspiring to walk somewhere where something so heroic took place.

It was a reminder to me that truly heroic people can come from literally anywhere, and that we must never underestimate the power of a human soul who simply wants to do good and help other people.

I will likely never be asked to do something as difficult as Desmond Doss, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for all of us to be equally heroic.  That’s why today I am grateful for heroes who inspire us to do those heroic things.

What are you grateful for?

Being Productive

Today was one of those good days I have talked about preciously.  Nothing incredible happened, but it was an all around productive day, and I always enjoy that.  With my family gone, it is easy for me to just be totally unproductive and sit around doing nothing.

Fortunately, today I went into work, got a work out in, did some shopping, clean all my bathrooms, did some laundry, packed for a trip I will be taking soon, washed the dishes, read my book, did some writing, and now I am ending the day with a little more reading and writing.

None of these tasks were monumental, and unfortunately, none of them really did any good for anyone else, but it helps when you are going to sleep to know that you got some stuff done. That’s why today I am grateful for being productive.

What are you grateful for?