E. L. Rushton
Professor J. Nielsen
Personal Essay Assignment
Writing 150, BYU-Provo
7 May 2016
Everything She Desires
At 14,000 feet above sea level, I felt no shortness of breath. I love the elevation. Mauna Kia is the highest Volcano making up the big island of Hawaii, and on its heights I might as well have been on another planet. The lake was striking in its mere presence amidst this barren, rough landscape. The light snow and heavy fog were beautiful, but they constituted the only moisture that belonged up here. Such a lake spoke too much of life, yet here it was, nestled between two hills. The sign next to the path leading there read, “Hawaiian Sacred Site, no swimming,” but the path was not how my parents had found the lake a year before. They were on the other side of the hill when my mom heard singing over the ridge. The music was from a ritual or celebration going on with the spirits there. This time, she said, there was no party, just the constant guardians present, though it didn’t make a difference to me because I, like my dad, am a more typical mortal, very grounded in the physical world. If I ever saw or heard an angel, I didn’t know it. All I saw now was a still pool of water with reeds pointing to the sky from the center, a practice my dad said came from ancient Egypt, allowing the spirits underneath to breathe. We placed offerings of rice on the stone altar near the water. I had artfully wrapped and tied them in banana leaves at Momma’s assurance that the spirits appreciated the gesture. Past offerings of nuts, fruit or banana leaf packages like those I’d crafted dotted the altar. Last year, when my parents were here alone, a warrior spirit had come and spoke with my mom. He’d been willing to answer any question they asked, so this time we were prepared, except my mom said it was another spirit who approached now. It was a woman with long dark hair and a flowing white dress. After she’d answered our questions through my mom, she addressed the three of us individually. She warned my dad concerning pride, a family trait that has certainly come to me, then she spoke to my mother, I believe words of comfort, to which she just listened. “Now, she’s speaking to you,” my mom narrated, “She says: And as for the woman; she will have everything she desires.”
My knees are criss-crossed as I recite a quick prayer atop my unmade bed. I thank God for my home, my family, and a warm bed, and ask his blessing on the missionaries, our military and the prophet, and that my cow will please, please, get pregnant this time around, for her own sake and mine. For the most part they are words I’ve said scores of times, but it is late; not a good time to make it heartfelt. Fortunately the two chapters of scripture that satisfy my daily quota are short, so it’s only minutes after saying amen that I whisk my rumpled blanket from the shiny hardwood floor on which my mattress sits, and sink my head into the down pillow I appropriated from my parents room. Sprawled comfortably across the entire width of my plush and open pallet, I absently observe that as inconvenient as seminary can be, at least its early start time is a good excuse to not let any of my littlest siblings sleep with me. Also, being able to turn over the milking on weekday mornings is definitely a plus. As always, my mind buzzes with clarity before my consciousness fades, regurgitating the events of the day for repeated inspection. As much as I can recall, I didn’t seriously offend anyone. I also didn’t practice the piano, a realization that triggers an all too familiar twinge of guilt, since my parents have been paying for my lessons for years. I’d done the work required for my online community college course and aced my anatomy test at high school, then come home, watched kids, cleaned the common areas with everyone, made dinner and then cleaned the kitchen with my sisters. The rest of the day blurred as sleep began to set in. I wonder where Kevin is sleeping. The thought coursed through my consciousness unexpectedly. No, I thought, bitterly realizing my mind was quickly reentering reality. That’s Momma’s job. She’s already checked on him. I tried to fall back asleep, but I wasn’t sure. With monumental effort, I extricated myself from the warm cocoon I’d created and stumbled across the attic floor and down the stairs. I briefly marveled at the places a 3-year old can fall asleep; he was on his stomach in the middle of the hardwood living room floor. A tiny blanket covered his back, but not even a pillow was underneath. He didn’t wake as I gently lifted him off the wood and into my arms, but still he gripped me and snuggled his cold nose into my shirt as I carried him a few feet to the couch, where Zion, at the capable age of 5, had spread a large, thick blanket before passing out. I laid Kevin on the opposite end and tucked him underneath, pressing the fabric around his neck and feet. Out like a rock. Before going back up the stairs, I peeked my head into the nursery to see the last one, Zarah, curled up in the crib. For a moment I watched her chest rise and fall. When I tightly wrapped my own blanket around me once more, snuggling fiercely into my own bed, it was cold. My last conscious thought was a hope that perhaps one of the little ones would wake up and come find me.
Approximately forty-five thousand times my feet had struck the soft sand since the sun rose almost six hours before. I was going to break the women’s course record for this race. More than 25 miles of desert, and steep, treacherous dunes were behind me. I had one mile to go and it was flat. Endorphins had honed my focus to a needle point and smothered the aching of the supporting ligaments of my ankles. Somewhere in my consciousness I knew my body was breaking down—that I was exhausted—but the chemicals in my brain told me I felt fantastic. So I believed it. At a later date, I would look at pictures and be concerned about my wide eyes and maniacal grin, but in the moment I felt nothing but a deep euphoria… and maybe a little bit of pain, but soon it would be gone. As much as I hurt, and as long as I hurt, there is always some good to focus on. Now I could focus on the finish, but for most of the race, ever since the sun made the sand hot enough to burn my palms as I clambered up a particularly steep ridge, I had focused on the wind. It was soft, but cool, and it blew directly towards my face, lifting the tendrils of escaped hair off my neck and evaporating the sweat that dripped behind my ears and down my back. It was all I needed. I willed more power to my legs, though they felt like they weren’t part of my body, and amazingly they responded, carrying me forward; just a little bit faster… I could do this. There was a break in the wind, and I immediately felt the sun beating down on me oppressively. I just had to wait for the breeze to return, but more seconds ticked by in increasingly oppressive stillness. “Please,” I whispered, “Heavenly Father, please let the wind start again. I need it right now.” I felt it immediately, icily tickling my neck as softly as falling snow. Maybe it was only my imagination, a product of my hypersensitive, dopamine saturated neurotransmitters, but then it blew stronger, so there was no question in my mind that it was real. Hot, misty tears splashed against the dusty earth, quickly followed by my knees. I felt a fleeting concern that I might not be able to get back up, but I knew I had to say thank you. It wasn’t just for the wind; it was because He cares about what I want.
Two days later, lactic acid lighted throughout my entire body whenever I moved, reminding me of what I’d done; what I am capable of. A smile touches my lips as I think on my perfect life, filled with every blessing I could never deserve. My petty discomfort isn’t a fraction of the trial so many have been forced to experience, but at least I can do something. I often wondered what I was going to eat, but never had I needed concern myself if I was going to eat. My family was financially secure. I had traveled extensively throughout my childhood and adolescence. I was taught to love reading, to value education and the significance of freedom. Most importantly, I was raised with a belief system, and I had personally adhered to it. This provided me with peace. Never had I wondered if I was loved. Nothing could touch me. I felt I could do anything, yet I still felt like I was accomplishing nothing of importance. I wanted to be tried, though I recognized how childish this desire was, so the request never passed my lips in prayer. I ran, studied, and gained capability in various skills. Regardless, I knew I was made for more. I suppose it’s easy to be disappointed with yourself when you have no excuses. When my mind was quiet enough, I could understand slightly more; while I could improve significantly, I was doing what I should at this time, and though my path was obscured from my view as yet, as I followed in faith, all that it necessary for my progression would be revealed.
How can two months feel like years, yet at the same time as though I’ve always stood on this porch. Maybe that’s what everyone feels like when they visit home for the first time, as opposed to going home. I’ve memorized the chips in the paint on the door, as well as the room behind it where my family gathers to council and pray; where I regularly slept the vast majority of my 17 years of life. Three little ones—though not as little as I remember—come running to hug me, screaming my name. I respond as always; there is nothing anyone could do but smile and hold these precious souls. I’m strong enough to hold them all as they cling tightly to me, smiles spilling into the air and mixing with anticipation for the spin they know is coming. As the room blurs to colors behind them, their wide eyes flicker, then look directly into mine for security. They are my sole focus. What deeper pool of joyful innocence exists besides that within a child’s eyes? What truer love, more heartfelt gratitude or transparency is captured elsewhere? I know the answer: there is none. So many people spend their lives in pursuit of these things. They are all that I myself should ever desire, and right now they are in my hands.
Like a cool wind in the desert, My God has granted me my every desire in the moment when I needed it most. He is constant and loving. In even the most seemingly minute details of my life, He has reached out to me. My path winds and spikes through sunlight and shadow, but I see where it’s headed. I know it will take everything I have to offer to get there, but I’m not concerned in the least. I have my family beside me, and I can do anything. I know that struggles will come, but in their face I will know without a doubt that I was prepared for such a time as this. I will always overcome..