Living on the Edge

I realized a while back that although I love my job, I wasn't entirely satisfied... I wanted more. I wanted to do more. I wanted to BE more.

As I wrote in my very first blog post "Why I'm an artist", I have always been able to see the big picture of my future life, just not all of the details that may get me there. One thing that I have always known for sure, is that I want to matter. I want to help people. I want to lift them up and make a difference in their lives. That is why I focus my artwork on two things: Pictures of Jesus Christ, and pictures of LDS Temples. I do this because I know that by focusing on those two things (which is really just one thing, the Temple is a tool that God uses to help us become more Christlike), our lives can become greater than we ever thought it could be. I knew that there were great things in store for me, I felt like I was just on the edge of something wonderful, but just what did I need to do to take the next step over the edge, instead of just living there?

As I look back on the last few years, I can really see the Hand of God in my life. Not that He has been "controlling" it, but He has lined up opportunities and learning experiences, so that I could make the decisions to move forward and grow. One of those opportunities was being able to attend a meeting last spring for "Online Influencers". Although I didn't really consider myself an "influencer" yet, I wanted to be one, so I figured this would be a great place to learn a few things.

I sat down at a table with a bunch of strangers and we got to know each other a bit. One of the people at my table was this redhead guy that I recognized.
Some may think that I recognized him from his YouTube videos, but back then, I actually only knew of him because my teenage son told me how he met this "famous guy", Stuart Edge. I knew he made YouTube videos, but other than that, I didn't know that much about him. Well, to my surprise, he was actually one of the main speakers that night. He spoke of a meeting he had with some LDS Church officials, how he realized that he needed to use his talents to help others, and at first he thought that meant he needed to be an "online missionary" of sorts, but then he realized, that he just needs to focus on the One. Meaning he should focus on lifting people up, sometimes individually,  because our Heavenly Father cares about all of His children,  and we should be His representatives on this earth.

The next day I stayed up with my ten year old son when he should have been sleeping and we watch all sorts of Stuart Edge videos, we laughed and laughed. But more than that, I remembered what he had talked about at that meeting. I was quite impressed with Stuart, and decided I wanted to focus a little more on helping people, on lifting people up. I realize now that one of the best ways that I can do that, is by just telling my story.

I often tell my wife that I am going to write a book. I tell her that so much that I wonder if she has quit believing me (because I have not started yet). Well, after hearing that Stuart Edge had recently written a book, and that it was about how he went from having a crappy job to being a YouTube success, I thought maybe I should read it, but what I didn't realize, is just how alike we are. I'm just a normal, lower middle class guy from Cache Valley (so was he), so why would anybody want to hear what I had to say? Because I DO have something to say, and so does Stuart. This book, titled "ON THE EDGE - How my crappy job changed my life" is an excellent way for him to tell some life lessons that he has learned, that can also help other people, people like me.

Stuart starts out by telling a brief overview of his life. Some struggles with anxiety, things he learned in Boy Scouts and serving as a missionary for the LDS Church in Mexico.  What stood out for me, is that I could relate, and that made me really pay attention when he started to recount that time in his life when he was just on the "edge". When he was home from his mission and working a "crappy" job  (cleaning port-a-potties) and he knew he wanted something different but he felt that Heavenly Father was telling him "no, not quite yet". That is where I feel like I am much of my life, but I find that when I relax and listen to Heavenly Father, things go good, and then in retrospect I see that it was good that I stayed sitting on the edge of something better for awhile, because that little bit of waiting made my current life so much more blessed.  This book reminded me of just how God works in my own life, this book gave me hope, because although my plan isn't to be a YouTube success, I do want to do good. I want to influence others for good.

One last thing that I really related to, is his failures and the need to start over. When talking about a viral video that upset a lot of people, he states:
"I thought the video itself was funny, and nobody got angry when we filmed it, but what other good did it have going for it? It didn't promote anything worthy. It didn't inspire anyone to go out and do something good. It just was
He later explains:
I had to sit down and ask myself more hard questions, analyzing my motives and my objectives over the past ten months. It made me give serious thought to my future and how all these choices and everything I'd posted already would affect that. It wasn't pleasant." 
I've made a few mistakes in my career as an artist. There were times early on when I had to completely start over with my body of work and I wanted to just quit completely.  It's Ok to make mistakes, It's Ok to fail. We can always start over, we can always begin again. That is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. Changing and improving. "Repent" just means to start doing things differently.  Sometimes it is beneficial to read about other people making mistakes, repenting, and then seeing blessings come later. For me, this was one more of those "best books" that we are counseled to seek after.

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