Monday, July 21, 2014

Storytelling

So here's the question: Why bother?

There are billions of people on this tiny planet, and we are only one creature out of billions that inhabit the lands and oceans. So why does our story matter in this mass of creation? Books are going to become outdated anyways. Who knows? Maybe we will live the life predicted for us in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. There's just one problem with that. There are people like Staci, who read and read and read, and listen to stories until the box of tissues is gone. There are people like Sarah, who get up on stages and tell their stories to kids until the kids will open up and talk about their own stories. There are people like Jo who wrote books that became so famous, people will be reading them for generations. There are even people like Rebecca who want to study the English language and literature so that they can be the next person to write down the stories that the world still has left to share.

Storytelling opens up a box of new ideas, and brings people together. A whole group of strangers can be united when a single person talks about that time they ran into a tree when they were biking, thinking Oh, I had a similar experience. Something that appears meaningless creates a bond between people, connecting us all with experience and gratitude, for sharing a piece of life with another. Stories not only serve as entertainment, but they commemorate a history of people and countries around the world. Everything that surrounds us can be turned into a story, however dull it may seem, but the small proportion of thoughts, ideas, and experiences that are turned into ink on a page or words on a tape make up a whole world of knowledge that we can use to enjoy and learn from.

So this is why we bother. It's worth enduring the mistakes, and being patient about this whole learning process. People may be saying that books are slowly disappearing, but in fact, more and more stories are being created every single day with each baby being born and each grandparent passing away. It is inevitable that these things will change and grow until society looks completely different than it is today. Invariably, we must bother to tell stories.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dusk

When you sit outside at dusk
And the sun finally disappears,
There's that moment of total blackness,
Before the stars become visible.
In that moment,
There's nothing there but emptiness;
It's just a black wall, and
"hope is for suckers" anyways.
Right after that moment of darkness,
Your eyes take a minute to recover
And tiny specs of light appear;
Dazzling spheres of gas,
Illuminating this messed up place we call Earth.
But when this spectacle occurs,
There is so much to see.
Because baby, this world
Will hit you hard if you let it,
But you can't be afraid to take a leap of faith,
And catch all the beauty it holds.
Because right here,
Right now,
I know there are plenty of mistakes to be made,
But there are also plenty of miraculous choices
That I made, and will make.
There is a myriad of pain to be felt,
And tears to collect,
But there are even larger quantities
Of happiness to share and laughter to hear.
That moment when the light
becomes enough that you can see shadows,
Is proof that hope really isn't for suckers,
And yes, life can suck,
But it can also give you the greatest joy;
Take in the beauty around us,
Use it to lessen the pain.
Hope for the spectacular
And believe in the impossible;
Because dusk repeats itself
Every
Single
Day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Salutatorian Speech

I had the opportunity to make a speech at my high school graduation, because I was #2 in my class. It was nerve-wracking but I got through it. Here's a transcript. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

 As I reflect on the last four years, I am faced with a simple but extraordinary question: Who are you? This is the question that is asked as each of us leave here today to start a life beyond high school. This is the question that college applications expect us to answer with lists of activities, grades, and essays. This is the question that doesn’t have a definite answer, but is left for us to decide. When we fill out the countless forms required of us in college, the military, or the workforce, we are defined by what we do and what we leave behind. Our actions and records become a reflection of what we believe to be important in our lives. But what is it about each of us that will be remembered by future generations? What legacy will we leave behind at Salem High School and in our future?
The late George Parks, Marching Band Director extraordinaire, lived by the philosophy that legacy is “a gift someone leaves to others that becomes their responsibility to pay it forward.” In this way, Mr. Parks became an inspiration to Marching Bands across the country and left us a piece of his identity in his Drum-Major-Training camp. Similarly, basketball Star Michael Jordan left his legacy as role model, and one of the best NBA players off all-time, and Susan B. Anthony helped gain the right to vote for the future generations of women in the United States. This is who they were, and what they left behind. Someday there will be a reflection of what we were, here in Salem, and in other places to which we leave behind a piece of us.
Salem is a city with a rich and complex legacy. What gifts has this legacy left us? And what will we always remember about our hometown? Salem’s legacy is tainted with the dark events of the Witch Trials, but it also celebrates the uniqueness of Halloween. People around the world travel to Salem to join in the celebration of history and culture. This is how Salem will be pictured in our minds, but how will the Class of 2014 be remembered?
We are the class that hosted Senior Night Live, to put on one of the best shows the school has ever seen. We are the class that had some of the best powderpuff cheerleaders, and stuck together even if we didn’t win the game. We are the class that had students go to Africa and New Orleans for service trips, the class that brought the band to Carnegie Hall, and the class that broke school records on the track. We’re the class that saw “A Funny Thing Happen on the Way to the Forum” and saw the basketball team make it to the tournament rounds. We’re the first class who got to play on the new Bertram Field. We, Salem High School’s Class of 2014, will be remembered as the class that stayed together, despite hardship, loss, and change.
This is our legacy. We will leave this school with the knowledge to become whoever we want to be. Here isn’t the question of who we are, it is the question of who we will become. Will we be defined by a legacy threaded with negativity or one that truly leaves behind a gift for generations to come? While everyone asks you: Who are you? I challenge you today, class of 2014 to think about who you will become. What gift will you leave behind? What will your legacy be? Wherever this diploma we receive today will take us, congratulations and good luck.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Open Inwards

The library doors stay open,
as if the odor of books is strong enough
to call in the most curious readers.
Voices call from behind closed doors,
as if they can lead me to a new place
full of wonder and unveiled secrets.
The click, click, click of computer keys,
reveals the hunger of patrons who try
to unlock life social networking and Google.
Do you have 'Sherlock Holmes?'
Is there a bathroom here?
Where are the audio books?
The people walk in circles,
searching for mysteries as if they could find
an answer to life among the pages of a novel.
As if the movies could shield them;
showing them pictures of war so they
may believe it is only seen in film.
As if the books could swallow their fear;
taking them to paradise while the world
blows up around them.
The library doors stay open,
to shield us from reality because sometimes
we need a break.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Patriots

We know far too much about the Kardashians and Kanye West, while there are people dying in wars on foreign soil every single day.

In Syria, chemical raids killed thousands of men, women, and children, but all we heard about it was what the politicians were trying to do about it. None of us heard the stories of the thirteen-yera-old child who died in February of 2012 after being hit by a missile by Assad thugs. Children all over Syria were dying like this, and none of their stories are remembered by Americans. Instead, we know that Kate Middleton may be expecting twin girls. The news gives us the glamorous life of celebrities, and hails their fame instead of monumenting the more important things in life.

Just like every year, Memorial Day was used to honor the men and women who fight and die for our country every day. In May of this year, 19-year-old Adrian Perkins lost his life in Afghanistan but anyone who is not directly connected with him or his family does not know about this. Our attention is focused on materialistic ideas, and we don't remember why we are allowed to have this freedom in the first place.

While many don't agree that the war efforts in Afghanistan should be happening, we are still sending soldiers over there and we should be grateful for what they are doing. Whether or not we agree with the politicians' views, we must remain respectful towards the citizens that are losing their lives to fight for what they believe in. Let's learn about the everyday citizens and problems that the world is facing. The only way we can fix the problems is if the world knows they exist.

Monday, April 14, 2014

For Joanne

Kindly, sprightly, blows the wind,
To signal changes of time,
And allow the day to pass
As beautiful as your heart.
For the winds are as warm
As your gentle care,
And your humbling smile,
And your welcoming spirit.
Your family remains;
Healing and missing you,
As heaven welcomes an angel,
We celebrate your life.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Poetry

The scratch of pencil on paper
Is a thousand symphonies
Fulfilling the souls
Of a million poets.



Happy National Poetry Month!