Defeat and Isolation

I feel defeated. I try so hard, but now, due to common sense, I have been forbidden to do the things that make me feel good about myself. The worst part is that, despite being really frustrated and angry, I completely understand why I am being restrained.

I’m not used to this. Usually, people are pushing me to do crazy, adventurous, different things that I don’t want to do. This time, the one time I actually want to push myself, be daring, and I am being limited. There’s nothing I can do to fix it other than “change my attitude”, but I don’t want to. I want to be angry. I am allowed to be angry because on my last weeks of school, before I move across the country from all of my friends, I am not included.

I feel isolated and I hate it. I hate feeling alone. It really feels like I am. Truth is, nobody’s there in the hospital with me when the nurses poke me with a billion needles and put me through relentless testing. Nobody was there when I had to opt out of a once in a lifetime field trip to Belize over april vacation. Nobody knows what it was like to quit my job because I started to scared of waking up on the floor. Of course they don’t and I can’t really expect them to. I can’t participate in class outings because “it’s too much of a safety hazard”. I can’t participate in my favorite class at all.

I wanted to prove something to myself in that class. I wanted to prove that even if I don’t have good grades, or a “bangin’ body”, or a bunch of friends, or talents; at least I could be proud of myself for jumping. Literally jumping. I wanted to prove that I could do something if I wanted to. I could get over something, like my fear of heights, even though I am terrified most of the way there. Now I can’t even do that.

It feels rotten. It’s like a giant hot potato was shoved into my lungs. Trust me, I hate potatoes! It’s an ache that gets worse when I think about it. Yes, maybe it seems insignificant to some, but to me, it means a lot.

Explorers

“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” George Washington, August 1775.  This quote is significant because it sums up the general attitude of the patriots fighting for the United States. By rallying together and fighting passionately for their beliefs, this rag-tag group of farmers, bankers, and merchants defeated the huge, well trained British army. Columbus arrived in the New World in 1492 and the european powers would soon follow. Many spanish colonies were established, but later abandoned, the French settled in parts of the U.S. and Canada, and England established Roanoke which ultimately failed. By the 1600 Spain and Portugal were the only countries with significant colonies in the United States, but in 1784 there were colonies settled by Germany, Russia, Spain, Portugal, France England and the Netherlands. Tension grew between the British and French colonies leading to the French and Indian War which resulted in the secession of France from most of their colonies. Ater heavy taxing of English colonies by King George III, a group of rebels or patriots formed and began fighting for their independence from their mother country. There were many important people, events, and decisions during this time period, but some stood above the rest.

 

Of the many important people from this time period, one of the most influential was George Washington. George Washington was the well respected commander of the Continental army; in fact he earned much of his respect from having fought in the French and Indian War. He was an amazing strategist and war general who was able to inspire those under his command. He helped his army survive Valley Forge and a couple of long, harsh, winters with few resources. When the war was over, he was so appreciated that he was offered the position of King over the English colonies, but declined and became the first U.S. president. One could say he is partially responsible for both winning the war and establishing the democratic government implemented in the United States of America today and that is why he is and extremely influential person for this time period.

 

Out of the the many relevant events from this time period, the one that that had the largest impact was when the Congressional Congress wrote the United States Constitution during 1776 and 1777. It came into force in 1789. Before this was written there were no supreme laws or concepts of rights. The constitution created these unalienable rights that applied to everyone in the United States, a concept that had not existed before this time. Many other documents were crafted in the image of the constitution as a set of rules after it was enforced. If the Constitution had not been written, life in the United States of America would be drastically different.

 

Finally, of the many important decisions made in this time period, the one that stands out as the most significant was France deciding to help America. First, they sent money and food. Later they sent weapons and troops. Finally, in 1777, France greatly helped the Patriots win their battle against the British in Saratoga. Without France’s aid, the colonists may not have won as soon as they did against the British.
Historians often talk about the Domino Theory of history, that one thing always leads to the next. This is very true of the time period from the arrival of the first European explorers to the New World to the end of the American Revolution. Without George Washington’s skills and ethics, the patriots may not have won and a monarchy could have started. If the Constitution had not been written the freedom of speech, religion, and press would not exist. having the right to anything would be unheard of, and the government would be run much differently. If the French had not helped so generously, we might not have won the American Revolution or our progress would be slower at the least. This age of exploration and independence truly shaped the way citizens of the United States of America are living today and they are some of the reasons that the U.S. is one of the larger powers of the world.

Lincoln

Abraham once said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

(http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/abraham_lincoln.html#leVzy2sjwr8Igf1J.99)

As the president during such a crucial time in our country’s history, Lincoln was faced with many difficult decisions. Throughout his entire presidency he held a few core characteristics essential for any good president: a popular touch, a moral compass, and a gift for inspiring others. This goes to show that he did indeed deserve to be remembered as a great president.

 

Throughout Lincoln, the movie, Abraham Lincoln most definitely had a popular touch. In the beginning of the movie he was seen talking to a group of soldiers and it became clear that he was well liked by many. The soldiers even learned his speeches! Later he was shown at a hospital talking to the patients as if he visited them regularly. He was also able to easily convince his employees to do his bidding. Even his enemies respected him. Even the people who worked in the white house liked and and respected him. The sheer number of people who attended his speeches proves just how popular he was. Clearly, he was able to easily connect with the public.

 

Even in the beginning, Lincoln had a good moral compass. Even though he knew it would not be a popular idea, he knew it was the right thing to abolish slavery.  He fought with all of his energy to pass the 13th amendment. An example of his thoughts on hard work and responsibility was when he said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” (http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/abraham_lincoln.html#leVzy2sjwr8Igf1J.99)

This is possibly the reason why he felt it was his responsibility to end slavery sooner than later. He knew that if he didn’t pass the amendment when he did, it would not have passed and his moral compass would not let him do that. It is safe to say that he valued doing the right thing over his popularity and success.

 

One of the most important qualities Lincoln possessed was his gift for inspiring others. He inspired hundreds of people with his famous speeches. He was also great at rallying his employees to get what he wanted done. The only reason he was able to have the 13th passed was because he inspired people to convince members of the conservative democratic and republican parties. The effects of his inspiring was demonstrated when the soldiers were able to repeat his speech from memory. By encouraging his people, he was able to accomplish his goals more effectively.
Abraham Lincoln was a great president who was served a difficult task at an important time. Between his personable skills, his straight moral compass, and his ability to “rally the troops”, he had the characteristics of many other good presidents throughout time. He was indeed a president who deserves to be remembered. He set a high standard for future president which, has unfortunately, rarely been met. It is hard to find a president who put the needs of his country over his personal opinions and success like Abraham Lincoln did.

Foliage

I have lived in New Hampshire my entire life, first a small, pocket-sized neighborhood in Merrimack, then a secluded property in Fitzwilliam, and now, finally, in the city of endless squirrels, Keene.

In the summertime, I used to love going on vacation to see my grandparents in Florida. I loved Florida; so many plants, palm trees, lakes, and oh, the glorious sunshine! So, when I found out that my fourth grade class, instead of going somewhere exotic and vibrant, was going to climb up to Lonesome Lake in the White Mountains, I was tremendously disappointed.

On the following Monday, I was ready, backpack overfull, heavy woolen mittens, and way too much of Mom’s homemade, gluten-free granola. We all piled into the bus. Some were excited for the hike, “ It will be so pretty. We can learn all about the different kinds of plants that grow on mountains!” Others, like myself, were not as thrilled, “What is  the point of this? I can go outside and see the same exact tree in my front lawn! This is just way more exercise!” I was sure that they were just trying to trick me into being “healthy”, but I was not falling for it. My teacher assured me that it would be different, “The leaves will have changed color! It will be beautiful! Here, have some more granola.” Under my breath I grumbled, “ I can see stupid orange foliage any time I want to.”

That day we hiked up the mountain for a time that seemed like forever to me. My legs ached and my belly rumbled. As to be expected, I slept well that night. The next day when I woke up, low and behold…it was raining. Pouring actually. Long, grey sheets of icy water crashed down on our log cabins. “What are we gonna do?” I asked my teacher. “We are going on a nature hike!” she responded cheerily. I moaned and groaned and huffed, but when the time came, I slipped on my boots and raincoat and grudgingly stomped outside into the the pouring sky-waterfall.

I wasn’t the only one upset.

Walden In Review

Henry David Thoreau, a true transcendentalist, began his new, secluded life in Concord near Walden Pond. His mission was to live simply without the use of most material objects.  He started the journey as an experiment, but greatly enjoyed his time there. He connected with nature and tried to truly understand himself and his purpose. He thought that people should not rely on objects but rather look inward and spend time understanding themselves. He believed that each person was individually important and stated, “Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire.” ( Thoreau 250 ). Because of these rather strong philosophies, he would most likely not condone the behavior modern American citizens consider normal.

 

One large part of daily life in modern America is traffic. Whether by foot on sidewalks, on bikes up mountains, or cars on roads, everyone is always out and moving. There is hardly such thing as a rural area. Noise pollution, and light pollution leak into every forrest. One can hear cars rushing by and smoke rising from chimneys, and cell tower lights can be heard even from mountain tops and lakes. He would have hated this. In fact, in reference to traffic from a cattle-train he went as far as to say, “I will not have my eyes put out and my ears spoiled by its smoke and steam hissing.” ( Thoreau 86 ). That quote acknowledges that Thoreau didn’t like his quiet, peaceful life interrupted by others’ more fast-paced lives.

Another thing that Thoreau would not have approved of is how routine the lives of most Americans have become. Every day, children go to school, ride the bus, and eat the same three foods day after day. They sit in the same seat, go to the same classes and read the same books every single year. He would especially hate that children’s lives are dictated by a bell schedule. Even adults have a routine. They wake up, drink their coffee, drive to work, drive home, make dinner, and repeat. “The shore is irregular enough not to be monotonous.” ( Thoreau 127 ). This quote demonstrates how Thoreau loved Walden pond very much and one of the many reasons was its inconsistencies.

In America, for a long time now, people have been misusing our resources. However, recently, treatment of the one and only earth has been severely lacking. Deforestation, overuse of water, species extinction, climate change and water contamination are just a few examples of how little we respect the ground we walk on. Thoreau would be thoroughly disappointed. He viewed the earth as valuable as the heaven above. “ Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” ( Thoreau 189 ). He thought that nature was sacred and not to be tarnished or destroyed by mankind.

Thoreau, in general would be greatly disappointed in modern America. Nowadays, people care too much about money, materials, and socialization. Hardly anyone takes time to reflect on their lives and thoughts, and hardly anyone cares about how they negatively impact the world by choosing laziness, convenience and excess rather than, hard work and integrity. He would be disappointed that not many people even care about philosophies or philosophers such as himself.

Adventure Challenge

In Adventure Challenge ( an alternative gym credit ) I feel like superwoman. This class is changing my life a little bit. I am anxious, introverted, and definitely afraid of heights and trying new things. A great thing for me is seeing that I can do it. I can climb swaying beams of wood, I can get over giant walls, and I can even play kickball. I used to be the last one picked on any kind of team, but now I am an asset and it is the best feeling.

Of Mice And Men

In Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men two friends start work at a new job in Salinas California at a ranch and learn how hard it is to achieve the “American Dream”. The book’s lead, Lennie, is a mentally stunted giant of a man who is kind and hardworking, but has a tendency of breaking things because he doesn’t recognize his own physical strength. His friend and guardian, George, is a good, but fairly irritable man. Set in  California, in the 1930’s, the novel demonstrates the struggle to find happiness during the Great Depression. A major theme throughout the book is loneliness and this reflects the common attitude during this time period: every man for himself. George killing Lennie was clearly justified because he was ultimately protecting him from a series of worse options.

The setting of this book easily justifies George’s actions at the end of the book.  At that time if he made any kind of mistake, Lennie could have been sent to an insane asylum, shipped off to a prison, or killed. Insane asylum in the 1930’s were brutal. If he went to prison he would be terrified and most likely taken advantage of. His death could have been much more painful and gruesome than a shot to the back of the head. If he avoided all of these fates, it is still unlikely that he would ever keep a job long enough to achieve his dreams in the terrible economy, especially with a mental disability. At best he would be on the run until his mistakes caught up to him.

Of course, George’s decision to kill Lennie was illegal. He could defend that he was merely protecting the world from a dangerous criminal, but that would never stand up in a court of law unless his killing Lennie was direct self defense. Despite one’s common sense or instinct it is not legal to kill someone even if you know that they are on the run from the law. America has always frowned upon vigilante justice and the 1930’s were no exception.  Morally, however George was saving Lennie from a life of misery. It is very unlikely that Lennie would have ever acquire the land, rabbits, and happiness he desired. It was an obviously selfless decision. Despite the pain it must have caused him, George killed his best and only friend in the world to save him from an even more tragic fate.

A major theme in this novel is the unrealism of the “American Dream” during this time in history. Throughout the book he makes sure to let the reader know that none of the characters get their dream. Curley’s wife wanted to be a star, and instead ends up in an unhappy marriage; Crooks wanted to belong, and he ends up in complete isolation in the middle of a group of white farmhands; and Lennie’s dream has the same fate. If Steinbeck had written a happy ending for the novel, it would have gone against the entire message.

The unfortunate time in history led George’s choice to be the only one he felt was right. Selflessly, he went against his every instinct to put his friend out of misery. His decision at the end of the book was essential to portray the entire lesson of the story. Although it may receive criticism for its depressing moral and hopeless message,  the tragic series of completely justify George’s decision. With these circumstances, he ultimately made the best choice he could.