“THE SECRET OF CHANGE IS TO FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ENERGY, NOT ON FIGHTING THE OLD, BUT ON BUILDING THE NEW.” – Socrates
As described on my architecture page, I knew I was going to be an architect from an early age and I worked toward that goal with persistence and passion, finding every way possible to achieve it. Also detailed on that page is the fact that I never did become a traditional architect as I had planned and prepared for, because of one simple truth: Life does not always agree with the plans you have made and sometimes we must “be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” (E.M. Forster)
Losing Focus, Gaining Perspective
When I met my wife, Brianne McCleve, I had just returned from an LDS mission to what was formerly East Germany. I had also started my first semester at the University of Utah and applied to the College of Architecture and I was waiting to see if I would be accepted. At that time I was working in a credit card call center to pay my way through school and had just been moved to a new team. Little did I know that one small, seemingly insignificant decision made about my employment by someone I had never met would change my future as I had imagined it.
It turned out that the team I was moved to was Bree’s (my soon to be wife). Being a highly focused individual by nature, I was pretty much unaware that she had taken an interest in me. In fact to hear her tell the story, she saw me as I walked in with my box of personal belongings and decided she was going to get to know me – whether I was interested or not – and her persistent stalking of me began. We now joke about just how “clueless” I was, but in my defense not only was I focusing on my education so that I could one day provide for a wife and kids, but to add to my state of naivety, one of my old high school friends was working at the same place and he had already informed me that Bree and he had been dating pretty seriously, and that he was about to propose to her. When I think back on it, I really shouldn’t have believed him, he was even more awkward with the fairer sex than I. It turned out that he just had a crush on her and had actually only ever chatted with her in the hallway, and probably spent a bit too much of his free time imagining he was dating her. To be fair to him, he was only trying to hold off the competition until he worked up enough confidence to ask her out.
In my ignorance, I failed to catch on to her true intentions each time she intentionally stopped me in the hallway to chat. I wasn’t even aware that she was putting her job at risk just to try to get to know me, as she was purposely moving her scheduled breaks to match mine just so she could “run into me” in the hall. Eventually, she became frustrated enough with my perceived incessant lack of interest that she finally threw all of her confidence into one brave endeavor and asked me if I wanted to go with her to get “the most amazing hamburger and fries” I have ever tasted. I will admit that I was a bit taken aback and hesitant to cut in on a friend, but heck, how could I turn down an offer like that? And her assertiveness was only the beginning. She not only offered to drive, but she was also the first (and only) girl to ever offer and then pay for my lunch. That my friends vaporized my iron focus for just a moment, and what I beheld in front of me was the most breathtaking being I had, or would, ever see in my life. She was perfect in every way; funny, authentic, beautiful, and man was she a sassy pants. She could spit sarcasm with the best of them, and I instantly fell in love with her.
To be clear, I wasn’t the only one with big plans. Before we met, Bree had turned in her paperwork to serve as a sister LDS missionary and was planning on leaving soon. As soon as she told me this I decided that I was not going to be the person who stole that opportunity from her, and so we both decided to be “friends” and just “hang out”. During my LDS mission I had learned a lot about myself, a different country, a different people & culture, and about life in general and I truly wanted her to have that experience for herself. Don’t get me wrong, just because I was letting her go didn’t mean we were walking away and I wasn’t going to just let her go without doing something to tie her to me. So before she left on her mission, I purchased a promise ring for her that had a single white pearl sitting on top of a golden flower.
Life wasn’t exactly easy before Bree left, but what happened once she left is where life decided it was time for a challenge…