Hallelujah, that week is over! This week was one of those pile-everything-on-you-at once kind of weeks (If you’re worried this is a rant post, fear not. It isn’t). They say the progression of law school is this: they scare you to death your first year, work you to death your second year, and bore you to death your third year. While I haven’t experienced the other two years of law school yet, the adage sure seems true: they scare students to death.
I won’t lie, these past few months have been a challenge. It’s definitely not undergrad anymore. There’s constant fear of: 1) failing when called on in class; 2) being laughed at by fellow students; 3) not remembering the myriad exceptions to exceptions to exceptions that are being crammed into your head.
My point in telling you this is just to convey that I most likely should be in a state or turmoil. And for a while I was. Although I would put in 14+ hours a day of studying, after some time I was running out of strength. I was constantly frustrated, stressed, and angry.
Then, along came General Conference. And like all of us after General Conference, I was able to spot exactly what was going wrong. Extremely stupid on my part, but I had neglected the basic parts of gospel teaching. You know the cookie cutter answers: prayer, going to church, reading your scriptures, taking the sacrament.
President Uchtdorf said in his talk:
“This is a simple but critical lesson to learn. It may seem logical when put in terms of trees or turbulence, but it’s surprising how easy it is to ignore this lesson when it comes to applying these principles in our own daily lives. When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be.
One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.
Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.
It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.”
Bam. Uchtdorf: 1,000,000. Panda: -1,000,000.
But how right is that? After seeing this and being urged to return to the basics, I realized how much had been lacking in my life. I rarely read my scriptures, I rarely prayed. When I went to church and partook of the Sacrament, my mind was constantly thinking of other things.
It’s interesting, and Uchtdorf has an incredible point here: it’s amazing how easy it is to not only become engrossed in things that are not necessarily bad, but fill our lives so much to the point where we forget the basics. And they’re BASIC basics. Powerful, but simple basics.
And that’s why things seemed so wrong. Even though I seemed to be doing a good thing by going to law school (I’m hoping to go into the public sector …), my life was falling to shambles because I let it be that way. Then it was to kick into gear.
The scriptures tell us: “But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words” (Alma 32:27).
So, that’s what I did. I “experimented” on this talk. And I know everyone here can predict what happened: it worked. The words of the prophets and their guidance always works.
I’ve started reading my scriptures again every day. It means I have to wake up a little bit eariler, but it gives me time to ponder and to pray. A basic thing. But my, I cannot even tell you how much this has changed my day. Not only do I feel increased comfort and calm throughout my day, but I am able to remember Him more often (which is a nice thing to think about between law school boulders flying in my face). After returning to the basics and being able to deal with my stresses better, I feel physically better, less upset, and less ill. (Heck, we had tornadoes the other day in Ohio, and a stick hit me in my face. But was I upset? Nope! I was fine with it. Had I probably not done the “basics” that morning, the stick-hitting incident would have probably ruined my day, but it didn’t.)
Basic stuff, but powerful stuff. And yet we forget it. But, if we remember, the benefits are great.So, I’m not a sad panda. I’m just Panda. Whootness.