Balance in Life | Ronald Brough | 2007

Ronald Brough teaches how we can access the Holy Ghost to receive guidance and direction in our lives. One important way we can do this is through prayer.

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"As my oldest son, Ryan, was a little more than halfway through his studies on this campus, he and I started what was to become a family tradition of attending Tuesday devotionals and forums together each week. Afterward I would treat him to lunch so that we could discuss what we had learned. This gave me an opportunity to observe how things were going in his life. This tradition has continued with each of our children. Our youngest child, Robyn, asked me a question as we exited the Marriott Center last fall semester: “Dad, when are you going to speak in a devotional?”

My reply was simple and to the point: “I’ll likely never be asked because of all the other qualified people they have to choose from.”

This experience reminded me of a comment I made to my wife, Ralene, soon after we were married and were living in Texas. I told her that we would likely never live near her parents, who lived here in Utah County. Based upon my choice to be a musician, the likelihood of living anywhere in the Intermountain West seemed remote. An unexpected phone call came while I was teaching at Indiana State University, and the invitation to come and join the faculty on this campus was extended. It has proven to be a wonderful blessing for our family and an opportunity for my own personal growth and service. The lesson learned? Never say never!

As a percussionist, I play a number of different instruments in a myriad of musical styles. I have colleagues who specialize on certain instruments, but my motto has always been “If you shake, scrape, or hit it, I play it.” Performing on marimba, vibraphone, and crotales with the Utah Symphony, timpani with Ballet West, a drum set on a jazz gig, or African hand drums in a recording session for a Tahitian Noni infomercial allows me the variety I thrive on. There is seldom, if ever, a time when I feel like I’m in a rut. With that variety comes the challenge of finding time to know what instrument to practice and in what musical style.

Keeping balance in my percussion-playing life has always been a challenge. As a young, new faculty member here, I often traveled up to Salt Lake City to rehearse or perform with a variety of groups. Frequently I would rush home after a busy day on campus only to ask Ralene to pack me a sandwich while I changed clothes or loaded some percussion equipment into my truck. My son Ryan—who was then only 10 years old—observed the way my life was going and waited for the perfect opportunity to teach his dad a very important lesson. That moment came one day when I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He responded, “I don’t know exactly what career I want, but I know what I don’t want to be—a musician.” I was stunned. He then recounted my multiple refueling sessions, with me hurrying home only to leave again for another engagement.

I reflected upon what he said and was reminded of an experience from my own childhood when I watched the Ed Sullivan variety show on television. Now a variety show was as popular then as reality TV is today. Along with acts like the Beatles, comedians, singers, and tap dancers, there was a performer who would frequently appear on this show whose act consisted of an array of long wooden poles upon which he would carefully place ceramic plates. With a deft hand he would spin each plate while some silly “oompah” music played in the background. As he spun his fifth or sixth plate, inevitably plate number two or three would start to wobble, and he would have to hurry back to increase their spin before they crashed to the floor. It was a riveting display of skill, timing, and speed. Viewers across the nation watched eagerly to see if he could spin all of the plates on every wobbling dowel.

As you are turning in projects, papers, and preparing for finals, perhaps you feel like you are trying to keep too many plates spinning. Our challenge is often deciding how many plates to try to spin and for how long. In 1987 Elder M. Russell Ballard was recovering from a serious illness and felt prompted to speak in April general conference on “Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance” (Ensign, May 1987, 13–16). In that address he offered eight suggestions, which I have paraphrased:..."