Your Story

Life can hold some incredible events: the very first cry of your child as it enters the world, the telephone call that tells you that your mother has just died, the kiss you give to your daughter who skinned her knee while learning to ride a bike, the torment of watching your 6 year old child slowly die of brain cancer, the first time you set eyes on your angelic bride as she walks down the aisle to take your hand in marriage, the spouse who reflects back on that very first kiss over 50 years ago who’s now holding the hand of someone who can’t even remember his name, that glorious graduation ceremony where you receive your doctorate degree and the reward for those many years of hard work, the realization that you’ve flunked out of college wondering if you will ever finish anything in life, the teen child you admitted to drug rehabilitation, coming home from work and having your children welcome you with hugs and kisses. Some bring great joy, while others extreme sorrow. One moment you are on the mountain top of life and the next you’ve fallen to your knees wanting to die. This is your life, my life, our life. It’s this wild journey that we are on, but how are we to integrate such disparate events into something of meaning and purpose?

There might be many ways to answer such a daunting question, but there is one that I believe offers us that somewhere over the rainbow view of our life in the here and now. Before we travel down that yellow brick road, there is an alternative view worth mentioning, if nothing else for comparison sake. Many people hold this view, and it might even be the one that you have adopted, either by choice or default. This view sees all events of our life as mere chance occurrences. The tragedies and joys come and go without any real meaning, other than what we superimpose upon them. This might work for a while, but try and superimpose meaning on top of something like the sudden death of a child or the accident that leaves you handicapped. Our hearts will find us out, and if we really don’t believe that there is some purpose to the myriad of events in life, I think the result is either repression or escapism. John Mayer has a song called, “New Deep”, where he says how tired he is of trying to find meaning in his life, and so the alternative is to simply become numb, as the lyrics say:

Trying not to find every little meaning in my life
It's been fine, I've been cool with my new golden rule

Is there a God? Why is he waiting?
Don't you think of it odd when he knows my address?
And look at the stars, don't they remind you just how feeble we are?
Well it used to, I guess

Numb is the new deep, one with the old me
I'm over the analyzing, tonight
Stop trying to figure it out
Deep will only bring you down

Life is too short, and too valuable, to become numb to it. It is sad when life becomes a series of obstacles to overcome, rather than a journey to travel. There is hope, and it is to be found in a very simple, yet profound, idea that all of life is not just random events, but a grand story unfolding through the pages of time. Each of us is the main character, and our life the parchment upon which the story is written.

There is a movie called, “Australia” released in 2008 that portrays this idea quite nicely. The two main characters Drover (Hugh Jackman) and Lady Ashley (Nicole Kidman) meet in Australia in 1939 during a time when the half-aborigines children native to Australia were being taken from their mothers by the government, supposedly because the mother’s were abandoning them. One of the aborigines boys named Nullah loses his mother and Lady Ashley, who is not very good with children, does her best to comfort him. Nullah is mesmerized by the story of the Wizard of Oz, and is given hope by Lady Ashley’s, somewhat amusing, rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

We learn that Nullah is a magic man, and that he is able to draw people to himself with song. We also learn how important it is to the aborigines people that each person have a story to tell with their life. At this point you might be thinking that this view is really no different than the prior, where both involve superimposing our own meaning onto non-meaningful events. That would be true, if it were not for this one salient point to differentiate this view from all's the reality that there really is a man behind the curtain who is in control!

We are not the only writers of our story. Pull back the curtain of life's events and we will find a master wizard who takes the seemingly random occurrences and turns them into sentences, then paragraphs, and chapters creating a grand story. He doesn't act alone, though. He invites us with each moment to reach out and freely place our hand upon his and together we write the one and only story of our life. We become co-authors in the greatest story ever told!

When the end of our life draws near, and we reflect back upon what has been written, the thing that will matter most will be how well we cooperated with the Almighty Author in writing our magnificant story. It will be how well we took the focus off ourself and directed it towards others, how well we responded to those that God brought into our life to guide and nuture us, and how well we used whatever we've been given to make someone else's life better, and the world a better place for all of mankind. We will have to answer the questions of whether we cared enough, gave enough, and loved enough. At the end of life, all we will have is our story.

There is a touchinhg video of a man named Nick Vujicic who has made the most of his seemingly unfortunate circumstance. He has chosen to take what he has been given, or not given, to write a grand story of inspiration and encouragement with his life.

I am a bit saddened to announce that this journey of the Counting David’s Character website has come to an end. Being a part of this magnificent chapter highlighting the wonderful character of David Archuleta, and seeing how it has inspired so many, has truly been a pleasure and an honor. The entire team would like to thank all of you for your wonderful thoughts and support on this website and in championing the value of good character. CDC will remain here for you to read and comment on, but there will be no more new articles nor chats. This chapter has ended and who knows what the next one will bring. We encourage you to continue counting David’s character and especially counting your own character. It’s your life...your live it it with purpose, and live it with character!

God Bless,

Steve Gallie on behalf of the entire CDC Team

"I can’t believe the way things have turned out over the past year! It’s amazing to see where life takes you. Looking back I had absolutely no idea I’d get such an amazing opportunity, and being the first album, I feel like there are so many people that have gotten me here to this point for me to thank; all of them being a part of helping me go through this journey. There have been good times and hard times, but I think it’s all given to you to take you where you need to go in life."
David Archuleta, CD Liner Notes, 2008

The More Things Change...

The other night, I happened to listen to “Keep it Real,” a song that the Jonas Brothers wrote and performed for their new television show. Nick, Joe, and Kevin may have written the words to describe themselves and their TV characters, but some of the lyrics really reminded me of David Archuleta, as well. Here are a few of the lines from the middle of the song that especially struck me as relevant:

When you’re home, you’re still the one you were before you left to go on tour.

Now’s the time. Let the whole world know you can shine bright but still keep it real.

You can find the entire song and see it’s video here. (Be warned, however, that this song has a very catchy chorus and could potentially be rather addictive...)

As I’ve mentioned before, I have always liked David, the polite, considerate, appreciative young man that we met on American Idol early last year. What we saw from the beginning was a really nice, good guy. I admire that, and I would not want the music industry or “being famous” to change David into something else.

Of course, everyone changes and grows in some ways as they get older and go through new life experiences, especially when they are still in their teenage years. David’s life has changed a lot in the last couple of years. His very busy schedule has often kept him away from his family, friends, and home. He has had to get used to having more attention focused on him, even when he is not performing. He has also needed to become more accustomed to dealing with interviews, photo shoots, interacting with fans and reporters, carrying off much longer performances on stage, and many other things. Despite all of these things, while David may be more professionally accomplished and more comfortable and confident in many situations, he still seems to mainly be the same positive, sweet, humble person that we first saw at the American Idol auditions.

I think that many of the things that David has told us in his recent blogs and tweets really do seem to make this point. Since his traveling schedule has slowed down a bit lately, he has been able to have a little more time to do other things that are important to or fun for him. David told us how much he enjoyed the trip he took to California a couple of weeks ago with his mother and sisters, and he seemed really happy that he’s “been able to spend some more time with my family!” David still gets excited and nervous about new experiences in his career, such as his recent performances at the U.S. Open and the ALMA Awards. He doesn’t take things like that for granted, and he also made note of the fact that he just got his first fan mail from Alaska the other day. Also, while David appreciated being able to sing at those recent special events, he also said in his blog that, “I think my favorite thing was that I got to spend the week with my mom.” He is really excited about his new Christmas CD that will be released soon, but he’s also taking the time to discuss the brain of his pet fish and enjoying the chance to get back to doing some running, sometimes with his mom, even though that may cause him to need some sun block to ward off a “farmer tan.” Televised happenings in New York and Los Angeles aren’t the only events that David can appreciate, either. Last Saturday, he told us that “State fairs rock,” which is probably not surprising, since he “had some awesome roasted corn on the cob and cherry limeade.” In the last week or so, he’s also described the Utah Symphony as “pretty amazing actually” and the circus as “Way cool!,” and he had fun supporting his friends Brooke White, Michael Johns, and Benton Paul at their concert in his hometown. All of these things seem to show us that David is still a pretty regular guy who just happens to have a not-so-ordinary job that affords him some high-profile opportunities.

So, even though David Archuleta has had quite a bit of success in the first year or so of his post-American Idol music career and has gone through a number of changes in his life, it does seem that he has been able to remain basically the same nice David from Murray, Utah that started on this path a couple of summers ago. My wish for David going forward is not anything huge or extravagant. It is simply that he will be able to continue doing what he loves to do in singing and sharing music, but also, more importantly, that he will be able to retain his positive qualities and personality so that he can be a happy and good person throughout his life.

In other words, referring back to the song again, I hope that David will always find it true that “you can shine bright and still keep it real.”

Musical Notes

Just about every day of our lives we hear music without even noticing it much...background music. It's in the supermarket aisles, under the whir of the dentist drill, in the elevator that takes us to our office, in the restaurant where we are having dinner. It is meant to lull, mask and motivate us to spend money. Now if by chance we hear one of David Archuleta's songs in the background a little light goes on inside of us. We can't stop smiling and we may even loudly blurt out "It's David Archuleta!". I personally scared several people shopping for supplies in Staples when "Crush" came over the loudspeaker.

Mozart, the Beatles , the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. What do they have in common with David Archuleta? Their music has the ability to pierce even our routine activities and make us feel happy to be alive. We feel the music enter our entire being.

There is a theory that when we were a baby in our mother's womb we were influenced by the heartbeats of our mother. This is perhaps the way we first experience sounds that sooth and calm us. As we grow up we are exposed to many different types of music that generate different emotional responses. We may hide our eyes when we hear spooky music in a darken movie theater or feel a rush of pure joy hearing a beautiful Christmas Carol. We learned nursery rhymes and played musical chairs. Some of us can still remember advertising jingles we heard on TV when we were very young. Others may remember the songs on Sesame Street or the piano melody on a Charlie Brown holiday special.

As we mature we open ourselves to different types of music. David Archuleta touched on this when he was just starting his American Idol journey: "Something that surprises a lot of people is usually the music I listen to just because it's so diverse and it would be like Hispanic music from my mom, you know I grew up listening to Hispanic music on my mom's side and then my dad listened to Jazz music and so I grew up with that and I just love Gospel music and you know, mostly I listen to Pop, and like Pop-Rock, but soulful music 'cuz it's just one of my favorites as well."

Music punctuates the most ordinary and extraordinary moments of our lives. Our happiest and saddest days may be wrapped in music...whether it be the care we take when choosing music for our wedding or the tears we shed when hearing a familiar hymn at a beloved family member's funeral.
Think a moment..can you remember the sound of a merry go round tune as you decided which magical horse you would ride? Or the happy jingle of the ice cream truck as you ran down the street in hot pursuit?

Music has always been around us but David has opened our hearts and our memories to the melodies and songs that have been the soundtracks of our life. And it is not just a backward glance but a new excitement of music we have yet to hear. Soon we will have that Christmas CD in our hot little hands! Brand new music from David and a promise that it is from his heart.

Plato wrote a statement that rings true over 2,400 years later:
" a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination...and life to everything."

Thank you David for awakening music in our very souls.

"America the Beautiful"

Last Sunday night, on September 13, 2009, David Archuleta sang “America the Beautiful” in New York during the pre-match ceremony for the U.S. Open women’s tennis final. David’s singing was excellent, and he delivered a lovely and moving rendition of the song. I was also impressed and touched by some of the thoughtful things that David said regarding the song and the opportunity that he had to sing it.

David first told us the purpose of his trip to New York in a message on Twitter on Friday night, saying that he was, “Listening through America The Beautiful since I'm singing it at the US Open this weekend. Reflecting on its meaning especially on this day.” (That day was September 11, the eighth anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks on America.) On Saturday, David did some rehearsing. At that time, he told us on Twitter that, “I love this song! Such a privilege getting to sing patriotic songs.” David expanded on these statements a bit in the video blog that he filmed that night. Here is what he had to say:

"I’m in New York for the tennis U.S. Open, which I’ll be performing “America the Beautiful” at tomorrow. And...I had rehearsals today, and it was just awesome. Um...getting to...just...remember how amazing patriotic songs are and just...remembering about all the things that people had to go through and, know...had to go through a lot so we could have what we have today. And just, um, appreciating those who...who fight for our country and stuff. You just gotta, you know, show...your appreciation for them and respect to them. But, uh, I’m really looking forward to it..."

I really appreciated reading and hearing these comments from David. I think that it’s great that he appreciates being asked to sing patriotic songs and that he really did give a lot of thought to the meaning of “America the Beautiful” before performing it. It was also nice of him to share some of those thoughts with us.

David has sung patriotic songs, including “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” for events before, and he always does a good job. Patriotic songs in general are strong, powerful, and meaningful, which makes them well suited for David and his voice. “America the Beautiful,” though, seems to be an especially fitting piece for him. The melody is lovely, but so many of the words also seem very appropriate for David.

Here are the lyrics for the verses (the first and third of the song) that David sang last weekend:

America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

The first verse talks about the physical beauty to be found in various places in America. The refrains look to God for blessings and for assistance in making things better, and the first one also hopes for brotherhood throughout the nation. As we have seen, David is very appreciative of things that he sees around him, including the beauty of such natural features as the sky and the mountains, and he often shares his impressions of such things with us in his “tweets” or blogs. Although he doesn’t usually talk about it that often, David has let people know that his faith is important to him and has helped him a lot. The idea of people getting along with each other also seems to be something that David really cares about. He even talked about it back in the early days of American Idol, while explaining why the third verse of “Imagine”, which talks about a “brotherhood of man” was his favorite. Considering all of these factors, I would imagine that many of the lyrics of “America the Beautiful” would strike a chord with David and help him to personally connect with the song.

To me, the words of the third verse seem to illustrate quite a few of the things that David said about the song on Twitter and in his blog. In relation to September 11, the line about people who loved “mercy more than life” seems to bring to mind the firefighters, police, rescue workers, and others who willingly put themselves in danger, and in many cases were injured or killed, in order to try to help others that were in need. The lyrics about people who showed they were heroes through “liberating strife” and who cared more about their country than about themselves call up thoughts about all of those who have fought and worked (and are still fighting and working) to defend and safeguard our country and freedoms, as well as to protect and assist others around the world. Although he may not have thought about exactly the same things, it’s not difficult to see how the text of this verse could have inspired David’s comments regarding the need to have appreciation and respect for what people have had to go through in the past and for the people who fight for our country. It was nice that members of the Marine Corps joined David on the tennis court to present the flag during his performance, and that seemed to help emphasize some of these aspects of the song. David seemed to appreciate their presence, too, since he later sent a tweet that said, “Got done singing America the Beautiful! So neat especially with the marines!”

On multiple occasions, David has expressed the idea that money and fame are not the most important things to be obtained in life. He also often compliments celebrities that he has met that seem to be “down to earth,” humble, and appreciative of what they have. These comments seem to fit in well with the lines of the last refrain, which hope for a time when “all success” will “be nobleness and every gain divine.” This idea of success coming from goodness and noble actions is a nice, ideal vision or goal for each of us and for our nation. I think that, in a way, it also touches on something that many of us wish for for David and which we hope he can exemplify: the notion that one can be a good, positive, nice person and achieve success in the entertainment world and in life.

David’s performance of “America the Beautiful” and his comments about the song give us a chance to consider a lot of ideals and positive qualities, including appreciation, respect, gratitude, love of country, unselfishness, and nobility. This is a beautiful patriotic song, which was delivered very well by a special singer who seems especially well-matched to many of its themes. I would imagine that this is probably not the last time that David will have the privilege of singing “America the Beautiful” for an event, and, as long as he continues to approach opportunities of that kind in such a thoughtful way, we can all look forward to some more powerful musical and patriotic experiences in the future.

(Photos from