Monday, February 2, 2009
After more than three months away, I was excited about Christmas break with my family, pets, television, radio, and the big one…noise, and lots of it!
I was also nervous about how my family would expect me to act, and if they would be watching for change. I didn’t know if I would be acting differently without even noticing it, and, if so, would they like it? Could I meet their expectations?
These questions and thoughts were on my mind through the whole visit.
I really enjoyed the family time, holiday traditions, all the comforts of home, and, yes, even the noise. I realized how much some people and things, really mean to me.
I had a goal, a commitment I had made to myself, to treat my parents with respect and maturity, and to show my siblings patience and a good example through my actions and choices. I found myself making choices that I thought would make my parents proud, and
throughout the visit, I found myself talking about and applying what I had learned at FMA to my home life.
When returning to FMA, I was actually nervous. I didn’t know who would come back, or what stories would be told about who did what over break. Had I changed over the two weeks?
These turned out to be pointless questions for countless reasons, because once I was back at FMA, my thoughts were on my family, and how I missed them even more this time than when I first arrived. Although I was quickly and easily back into the routine of FMA, my thoughts were always of home. It’s like the quote, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
Since I’ve been back at FMA, I have loved seeing all the instructors and the students. I have enjoyed getting back into chores and school. The challenging parts were being self-disciplined, managing my time well, and developing the perseverance to overcome adversity, like winter expedition, and conflict. It was also challenging to remain determined to developing my character to become more mature, honest and responsible, and to maintain the willingness to make good choices so I can make a future for myself that will truly be what I want.
I came to FMA because I needed a change in my life. I didn’t know if I had a future to look forward to. My family and I visited here, and I knew right away that FMA was a place where I could learn and achieve that change.
When my Dad dropped me off, it was overwhelming, and it totally flipped my world upside down. All I wanted was to go home to what I knew and loved. I was convinced to stay and just see what it was like.
The first few days were a mess of homesickness and a lot of tears. When I finally opened myself up, I started to really understand why I wanted to come in the first place. I’m not saying that homesickness has gone away, but I’m just not thinking about it as much.
Another difficult part of coming here was that I was coming in the middle of the year, when everyone else had already learned so much and everyone knew each other. But now I feel like I’ve been here since the beginning, that I’m a part of the group. I still have my moments of stress and fear, but all and all this has been the biggest change I’ve ever come across. I’ve never been so scared and challenged before. Through the hard times, I just tell myself “I can do this,” and just take it one day at a time, and then I know I can do it.
Returning from Christmas break, I recalled what this place had been like when I first arrived in September. Instead of a massive class of nineteen students, I returned this year to a class of eight. Adapting to this was not difficult, as everyone was quickly introduced to life on the farm with no electricity.
Then the first expedition came. My tent partner, Jacob, was so excited to be going camping, but his views changed later that night as a downpour of rain swept through our camp. We struggled to get a fire going, but eventually we succeeded. That expedition was a good start for the year, even if I did have to push Jessie up a couple of those hills. Each and every one of us was glad to get back to the lodge and get some home-cooked parmesan chicken. As each expedition passed, I could feel my legs getting stronger, and my various tent partners have said the same.
Now we’re back from Christmas break. I was anxious to see how everyone turned out after having been gone for two weeks. Well, three of us didn’t return, but we got a new student named Chandler.
On the January expedition, I also realized that Christmas break had been too nice to some of us, and we were out of shape. But we quickly got back into the swing of things.
All in all, I think we are all getting back into the lifestyle of FMA, even if some of us have had to start over from square one. In my experience I’ve found that each time I fall, I just get back up and go again; go further and do it better than ever. I think it’s safe to say we are all learning to do that more and more as we grow.
It was almost 7:15 a.m., and History class was almost over. Just before we got up to take our notebooks back to our rooms and line up for breakfast, Mr. Kevin started lecturing on the stagnation of today’s teenagers.
My first thought on hearing this was, “Sure…whatever…” but throughout the day, this idea kept digging it’s way into my brain. I began asking myself questions like, “Am I stagnant?” and, “Can I change?”
Later that night I was lying in bed reading. I had homework to do: a five-step on today’s quote, and a journal entry for the morning meeting, but instead of doing either of these things, I was filling my head with tragic, unrealistic, trashy literature. I began thinking and thinking and came to the horrid realization: “I am stagnating!”
Recognizing this, I discarded the book I was reading, and decided to try and let these things become a part of my neurological system: I will not be an unmoving person. I will no longer engage in idiotic antics. I am done with stealing and lying. I will use my intelligence. I will stop being ungrateful.
I will approach things with an open mind.
Since then, I’ve been turning in all of my homework, reading non-trashy books, and I’m even studying for the SAT.
Thank you, Mr. Kevin for opening my eyes.
The fifth expedition at FMA was a cold and consequential one. We hiked approximately thirteen to seventeen miles through beautiful, ice-covered terrain.
The coldest night was the first one, when we camped on a ridge. The wind was howling next to our ears and made it challenging to start a fire.
For most of the expedition my toes were so numb, I almost forgot I had them. Even now, as I write this, the shooting pain in my feet, as my nerves come back to life, will not let me forget that I didn’t listen to Mr. Mike when he told me to keep my boots between my legs when I slept in order to keep them from freezing.
The most memorable day was the hike to the Tri-State marker, where Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia all come together. When we got to the top of the mountain, we stepped into a gorgeous, ice-covered meadow. Everything, from the smallest blade of grass to the largest tree, was coated in ice crystals. I forgot about the cold, and I forgot about my aching feet and shoulders. I forgot that there always seemed to be another hill around every turn. I took in the beauty, and I realized that someday I’d like to enjoy this with my family.
On the last day, we crossed a large number of fords over Gentry Creek. That didn’t help my feet much. There was also a very steep traverse that I thought I would fall off. It was a twenty-five foot drop to the bottom of Gentry Falls, and the snow didn’t make the footing very stable. A few times I took the “easy” way out, and slid down the trail instead of slipping my way down on foot.
On this expedition, I noticed how much stronger I’m becoming. I didn’t have any trouble with my breathing, and I wasn’t nearly as tired. I’ve changed a lot since the first expedition, and I plan on improving even more.
Braveheart tells the story of William Wallace, a Scotsman, who, in 1297, became a leader in the first War of Scottish Independence. Enraged by the cruelty of the English rulers, his battle to gain independence from England inspired the nation to continue fighting for its freedom long after his capture and execution in 1305.
This movie meant a great deal to me. It taught me that with enough determination, anyone can do great things. It also taught me to not be a slave, but to be willing to fight for what I believe in, and, if necessary, to die on my feet rather than live on my knees.
As William Wallace himself said, “Every man dies, but not every man truly lives.”
In George Orwell’s classic novel, 1984, a dictatorship controls society by controlling its ability to think and perceive reality.
The reader is introduced to The Party and learns of its methods through the eyes of Winston Smith, as he works at his job at The Ministry of Truth. There, he re-writes history to match whatever present claim The Party is making, while simultaneously destroying all evidence that the past has ever been anything but its present version. Orwell makes the point that if history is a lie, than truth cannot exist in the present, and the population will accept whatever it is told. Another character at the Ministry of Truth is systematically altering how people think by eliminating words from the dictionary. If people cannot know the truth, and also lack the ability to find words to express their thoughts, they simply give up.
When we first meet Winston, he has already decided to go against The Party. He has committed a “thought-crime” by buying a diary, and beginning to record his thoughts and the events of his life. This is not allowed, because private citizens are not allowed to record a version of events other than that of The Party. With this act, Winston begins a series of infractions, including entering into a romantic relationship (also forbidden) and finally contacting a member of what he believed to be the opposition.
1984 is not about a revolutionary, it is about a simple man who is distressed by the world in which he lives, and just wants to believe that there is absolute truth in something. When I began reading 1984, I expected it to be sort of like a Will Smith film: a futuristic story of rebellion and technology, but what I realized is that Winston’s life is actually happening to us. Many of us do not look beneath the surface of what we are told, and even more of us lack the words to express our own ideas. How could a government exist that dictates how and what I should think? It may already be here. This book was disturbing while at the same time enlightening.