Monday, December 8, 2008
I came to FMA not knowing how fast things were going to change around me. There was such a mixture and vibration in every student that came; it seemed to me that everything each of saw as normal was not exactly normal to the others. We all came from different states, but that was irrelevant. We were here now, and we had only each other.
When we arrived, the staff took most of our clothing, which I later realized was to help strip away the labels the outside world had given to us and those we had given to ourselves. I knew coming here was going to be eventful and interesting, but I did not realize how quickly our artificial barrier would be stripped away leaving us vulnerable to the truth about ourselves and the pain we had gone through or might have caused. There were moments when I struggled as the seams of the fabric behind which I had hidden for so long were stretched and finally torn apart.
All of the others here came for different reasons than my own, and, because they are minors cannot leave this place. I can. Many times they have asked me why I came, but I knew they would not understand if I told them. How could they, if they were not free?
The first few weeks most of us held back, rigid, and unsure how to present ourselves. Most of the first few months, everyone tried to mold themselves into roles they would try to play; a convincing role that was not real. It didn't work. Some would try randomly coming up with traumatic events that were partly told truthfully, while others stayed reserved, quiet, not wanting attention, and still even more of us did not share our pasts at all. I know that I was afraid of what would happen - it didn't make sense, but we were a group of strangers put into unusual circumstances that we didn't know how to handle at first.
We see each other for sixteen hours a day and in a "community" this small, very few secrets can be kept within these walls. If you weren't careful what you revealed, your whole life's events and stories would be passed from person to person within the first few weeks.
Change comes rapidly around here; I know that each day is different from the last one.
While many won’t yet admit it, we have begun to see how vulnerable and helpless some of us are. When we are first born, and when we are old, we are totally dependant upon those around us. The secret is that between being born and being old, we have our greatest independence, and it is in between, where we are now, that we need love and assurance in order to persevere and become a truly free person.
I was given a book by Kahlil Gibran to read called, The Prophet. I was reading this book because I was going through some stuff that was life changing. As I read, I contemplated what I wanted in my life.
One night, I was sitting at my desk looking over the book, not really thinking about what I was reading. My mind was somewhere else in self-indulgent pity, and I was on the verge of tears. Out of the blue a quote stood out like a burst of joy and love giving me a moment of total clarity.
It said, "When you love you, you should not say, 'God is in my heart.’ But rather, 'I am in the heart of God.'"
Suddenly I understood; it was as though I was caught in a river current of crisp, free-flowing life.
Love is so much bigger than what we see. Everything is loved, everything that happens, happens because we are in the heart of God. Be grateful for where you are, or, at the very least, make the best of where you are.
In our daily Morning Meeting, we have been discussing what our true core ideals are and how they tie into our goals. Through this process, I have found I value things I'm not living up to so well.
To determine my core ideals, the ideas I believe are most important to me, I was given a list of over a hundred words out of which to choose. Gradually I was to narrow the list down to ten ideals I felt it would be hard to live without. I chose calmness, caring, personal space, cheerfulness, love, athletics, organization, honesty, affection, and music.
I have found that getting to our goals is like trying to climb to the top of a mountain, first I must choose my path, then I must make sure I have all I need to help me get there (my ideals) and then, "A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step." It's hard getting to the top, but I know it's possible if I take the right steps.
I arrived at FMA later than the other students, so my first expedition was their second. We took a hike up beautiful Gentry Creek to the spot that would be our home for the next six days. After reaching our campsites, we ate lunch and went to look at the task we had to accomplish.
Our main mission was to build a footbridge across Gentry Creek using only the tools the pioneers had. The first afternoon, we cleared a path where we wanted our bridge to lay. When we were done with this task, we went back to our camps and cooked supper - lentils and rice. At 7:00 - 7:30 p.m., we had a compass class and then headed back to our campsites to sleep. I slept outside on this expedition because I like the outdoors at night (and I don't like sleeping by other people, because if they snore I get really angry.)
The next day we had to clear out some trees that were in the way of the main tree that we had to cut down for our timbers. We did this, but it got hung up, and as we tried to wedge it, Mr. Kevin showed us the danger involved by getting clonked on the head. We cut down all of the trees we needed with bow saws and axes. Once they were on the ground, we had to move the enormous trees up to where we wanted them to go by hand. It took a huge group effort, but we finally managed to get them into place. While I was cutting, other people were splitting the planks, after which we went back to our camps.
On the 3rd day, we worked the entire time putting both huge timbers into place and shoring them up on the large pilings we had constructed of rock. The 4th day, we put the planks on the bridge and it was complete. We were rewarded by Snicker's bars after a job well done!
We are the first FMA class to finish a bridge in 4 days. Later that day, we hiked up to Gentry Falls. It was a spectacular view (but not quite like the falls in Colorado.)
The 5th day we learned to rappel, on a small rock face, using the Dulfersits method for emergency descents. This was very interesting to me, even though I found it to be a piece of cake (chocolate, of course.) After the rappel, we went back to our camps for the last night.
The next morning we hiked out and returned to the school, where we had hot drinks, hot showers, and a refreshing meal. FMA IX built a great bridge and beat all the former records too.
On a long-anticipated Saturday morning, instead of relaxing for the weekend, Expedition Three began.
We hiked along the serpentine and overgrown Academy Trail to our first camp at Upper Birch Branch. It was a cozy camp and we learned about hypothermia there. This coincided with a sudden change in the weather, which nearly froze us in the early morning. We warmed ourselves up however and proceeded to Lower Birch Branch, a beautiful campsite situated next to a babbling brook.
While we were there we explored a trail that led to a nice little clearing at the top. The next morning we hiked over the Holston Mountain Range (5000 feet) to Abingdon Gap Shelter on the Appalachian Trail where we camped for two days.
On the first night we constructed a lean-to shelter against a fallen tree, which was surprisingly comfy. The next day Mr. Mike showed us how to shoot an azimuth for our solo compass hike. We were then told to follow that azimuth until we reached markers that Mr. Mike had planted for us. Despite these clear directions, half of the people got lots. And after a two-hour search and rescue mission, everyone was found and we turned in for the night.
The next morning we woke up to a light rain, which subsided before we began our hike to AT Saddle Camp. A downpour began that night and continued through the morning, which did not help our pack weight for the six-mile hike into Damascus, Virginia. However, Mr. Mike's promise of soda drove us on and we made in time to enjoy an ice-cold Pepsi.
I'm sorry for what I said. I'm sorry for what I didn't.
I'm sorry I had to leave this way. I know it must have hurt.
I'm sorry for the choices I made. I thought they wouldn't matter.
I'm sorry I never realized what you gave up for me.
I can't wait to see you.
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis is a very meaningful story about not giving up no matter what. It taught me that when I'm going through challenging times I must keep moving forward and not give up despite how tempted I am.
In the book, the main characters, Jill and Eustace, two English school children, were given the task of finding Prince Rilian by Aslan, a very noble lion, who told them to not give up unless they had succeeded in their mission.
Puddleglum, a helpful marshwiggle, who traveled with them through Narnia, following the specific signs Aslan had given Jill, aided the children on their quest. The signs were: Eustace would meet an old and dear friend, and, when he did, they would have help on their journey. Second, they must journey out of Narnia, to the north, until they found the ruined city of the ancient giants. There, they would find writing upon a stone and they were to follow whatever it said. Lastly, Aslan said they would know the lost prince (if they found him) because he would be the first person they met in their travels to use Aslan's name.
At first, Jill carefully remembered and followed the signs; however, when things got tough she became lazy and began to believe that the signs were never there. Puddleglum, the children's faithful guide, was the one who helped Eustace and Jill move forward and not give up.
On their journey they encountered giants at Harfang Castle, where they went after meeting the mysterious Lady of the Green Kirtle who invited them to Harfang for the autumn. Hungry for warmth and comfort, the children forgot all about their mission to save Prince Rilian until they found out they were going to be eaten by the "friendly giants" at the autumn feast. At the castle, they suddenly remembered their instructions from Alsan and, once again working together, escaped.
While fleeing all three of them fell down a hole into what's known as the Underworld, where for several days and nights, they had to travel in darkness. Upon arriving at the queen of the Underland's castle, the rescuers freed Prince Rilian, after he had spoken Aslan's name, and then narrowly escaped capture by the witch who tried enchanting them with potent charms. Fortunately, Puddleglum stamped out the magical fire, and he, Eustace and Rilian killed the witch after she had turned into an enormous serpent.
Upon the queen's death all her spells were destroyed which set free all the gnomes and other strange Underland inhabitants. Prince Rilian and the children returned to the Overworld just in time to see the King's homecoming. Even as his son, Rilian, arrived, the King, who was very ill, passed away. Aslan returned Jill and Eustace to England and their strange school, the Experiment House, with his congratulations.
This book illustrates the idea that when things get challenging we must not give up, but keep moving forward. It is very inspiring and I highly recommend this book if you have not already read it.
The movie I chose to review is The Pianist, a true story, which takes place in Warsaw, Poland just before and during World War II. The story centers about a man named Wladyslaw Szpilman, a pianist, who played for a small radio station broadcasting through Poland. To Szpilman, the piano was like air is to me: a must. He played the piano with all his heart and soul.
This movie portrays how Szpilman and many other Jews were dehumanized by the Nazis. The movie also portrays how the Jews could possibly have saved themselves. They suspected what was coming in enough time to prepare for the Nazi invasion. Did they? No. Did they fight back in time? No. In this movie, a few Jews did fight back only to be cut down.
Szpilman was not one of those few. He wasn't looking for a fight. He was simply looking for salvation from the horror around him. His salvation was the piano. That, for me, is very powerful. I personally enjoyed this movie. It taught me that by refusing to believe that humans are capable of atrocities such as those committed by the Nazis, I might find myself in grave danger. Very satisfying movie.