Life for Mormons is inextricably connected with the concept of Eternal Life. I spent the first thirty years of my mortal life with the myth embodied in the Mormon classic tale called “Added Upon” as the guide for how to look for a wife. I looked hard and prayed hard but seemed unsuccessful for the most part. I had a friend Kenneth Anderson who also took a long time to find his soul mate. He told my mother that he was looking for the perfect woman. Mother’s rejoinder was, “What if when you find her, she is looking for the perfect man?” Well, I thought, Ken was as perfect as mortals can get. That kept me quiet in such discussions lest Mother might ask me what was taking me so long.
When I met Arta I knew that she was as perfect as women get, and the last fifty years have verified that opinion. But they have also taught me the grim answer to my mothers question. It is terrifying to have your imperfections found out by the best because her virtues strip you of pretense and leave you face to face with the shallowness of your own character. You can’t go back and do it all over again: that is not the way reality unfolds. If, on the other hand, life were a Broadway Play, an actor could humbly say, “Tomorrow is another performance: I’ll do better.” And that is a hope that requires a long run in the Theater to nourish it. For Mormons, that nourishment is called the doctrine of the Atonement, and coupled with it the sobering truth: you must endure to the end …. of the theater run.
When I fell in love, I thought that this will be forever, and so we were married in the temple for all eternity; but to me the phrase “for time” was only a theological chastisement of non-Mormon outsiders. The reality, it turns out, is that “time” is the only part of immortality that we will ever know: knowing is the essence of now; but immortality is promised to all, good bad or indifferent. The ideal “now,” that is the desired reality of being married, is for two knowing time travellers to be intent on making their “now” eternal, that is, Godly. Furthermore, the success of the play is a joint venture. For many it takes hard work and a long theatre run to achieve the knowing that is a group’s best achievement.
Falling in love with Arta brought with it life that was centered in the Shuswap. It began shortly after we met. I went to the arctic for the summer, and she went to camp with her family at the lake. She spent much of that time in the rain, and I spent it in the nightless days of northern light.
End Part One