Saturday, March 18, 2006


two years ago, in his final conference address, neal a. maxwell shared a collection of experiences and 'one-liners' that he had learned over his life. the story that has impacted me the most was an experience he had in bombay, india. on a tight schedule, they learned that their flight to pakistan had been cancelled.
'what do you expect us to do,' he asked impatiently, 'just give up and go back to the hotel?'

the man behind the counter replied with great dignity, 'sir, you never go back to the hotel.'

with a little work, they found a flight, made their appointment, and even got a night's rest.

that phrase has stuck with me very closely: never go back to the hotel.

it echoes another lesson i learned from my own life. i noticed that people often tell stories from their own lives with a good moral at the end, and i wanted to find that in myself.

a few years ago i had two tickets to see radiohead the usana amphitheater. the plan was to pick up my friend from work in west jordan, and we would go over together. i left my apartment with ample time and directions printed from the internet. yet i somehow got very lost and ended up twenty miles from where kim worked. after directions from a kind 7-11 attendant or two and a moderate amount of frustration, i made it to the mall where kim work--45 minutes late. follwing a panicked search in the mall and a desperate prayer in my heart, i found her in the parking lot, sitting in her car, wondering if i would ever show up. we excitedly shared what had happened and were off to see what had been touted as the best concert tour of the summer.
we were cutting it close for time, but we didn't give up hope [we didn't use the brake very much, either].
we followed the directions like they said and wound up in a nice residential neighborhood; i didn't see radiohead or any sort of venue anywhere at all. this was looking desperate. maybe we would miss the opening song or two, but we'd still see most of the concert, and that kept us going. we made a stop at another kind 7-11, and before we even got inside we saw directions to the amphitheater posted on the door. great! off we were again, trying to think of what songs we had missed and console ourselves that it wasn't that bad.
when we eventually found the giant parking lot, we got out and noticed 'nothing'--it was silent. no one was on stage yet! despite us being an hour late, we had only missed the opening act.
we found our way in, jumped for joy, bought posters and a shirt, and found our seats [and they were pretty good].

the concert was everything we hoped it would be. the performance, the lights, the music, it was all anyone could want.
they played for about an hour and a half then said 'goodnight' in their british accents and walked off stage. we clapped and cheered with the crowd, wanting more. we hoped there would be more, because it was so good. but this was radiohead, a band known for being eccentric; maybe they didn't do encores.

but we kept clapping and they came back out, with much cheering from the masses. the encore was great, and the set of three or four songs ended with a very good performance, and the five left the stage again.
the audience cheered again, and someone behind me said 'well, that was good enough for me', and they left. kimmy and i didn't know if it was over or not; we were outside, so there were no house lights to come on to signal the end. so we kept clapping.

we kept clapping and cheering, not knowing what we were waiting for, wondering if we were just wasting our energy and losing our chance to beat the crowd. if there was nothing more, we didn't lose much. but if there was more, then leaving would be terrible.
and it didn't feel like the end. and they did come out for a second encore. they played one song, and it was beautiful. then one member of the band stood up, waved, and walked off. the song continued, and soon another stood up, waved, and exited. after a few more minutes, a third guy did the same. this left two guys on either side of the stage, playing with recorders and mixers, creating all sorts of interesting sounds and effects. then one of them left. after what seemed to be quite a while, the final guy walked off stage, leaving the music and beats repeating, and we noticed that the giant wall of lights behind the stage was scrolling over and over, 'forever'. we sat there in silence, until it all ended. lights we hadn't noticed before came up, but we knew already that that was what we had waited for. it was the perfect ending to the concert i had waited years to see.

there are times in my life when i wonder what is left, when will it end, what am i doing here? i am tempted to give up hope, to say 'forget it'.

never go back to the hotel.
just keep clapping.

habakkuk 2:3

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