Friday, June 25, 2010
On one of the last evenings of the school year, during the creative writing class, students of FMA-X were given the following prompts.
One thing I picked up; One thing I gave away; One thing I left behind; One thing I want to say; One thing I borrowed; One thing I would take back; One thing I came to love; One thing I know I lack
After writing down answers, each of them composed a letter based on the prompts. The letter will be given to the next student who occupies their room.
Some of the answers were surprising, others were funny, and all of them looked back with pride on an outstanding year. And all of them used their “Trail Name,” given to them during their time on the Appalachian Trail.
We hope you enjoy them.
I know that when you first get here you won’t like it, and I’m not telling you to believe it gets better, but it does. If you make it the nine months and challenge yourself, I guarantee that you will leave here stronger, not only physically, but also with the mental strength to pursue whatever you want.
One thing I picked up: Some of the best friends I will ever have.
One thing I gave away: My strength and hard work during work chores.
One thing I left behind: This letter to you, my friend, and a little child that was inside of me who wanted to destroy me.
One thing I want to say: Live all the days of your life.
One thing I borrowed: The knowledge of others to start my journey.
One thing I would take back: Not doing my homework at the beginning, because I would have enjoyed myself more in my short stay here.
One thing I came to love: My friends, my inner self, and my spirit.
One thing I lack: The ability to now say, “It’s just good enough.”
So enjoy yourself and have a blast, because I guarantee by the time you get where I am, you’ll love it too. I don’t know you, but I’m your friend when you think you don’t have one. Oh, and when you are on expedition and you’re hiking through five feet of snow, don’t get down because you have good food and a warm shower when you return. You will get a trail name for your actions – mine was Mountain Mover because I carried a rock (40 lb) from Highway 58 to Saunders Shelter then back to FMA because it was warm from the fire. Ha! That does sound crazy. Don’t ever sit on the side of the trail and die.
Your friend in Australia,
Yeah, I know it’s a small room, but I assure you that it will be full of memories when you leave. I know what you’re thinking, and I know that it will change for the better. I know that you and I are linked by this room, though we may never meet. I know he sounds crazy, but listen and you will learn something new. I know I did. I know it’s strange, no technology, not even electric lights; you’ll get used to it. I know I did. I don’t know why you are here, and at the end you will be glad because you will have lost a burden. I know I did. I don’t know if you love them now, but you will. I know I loved my mom and dad, and still do, at the end of it all. You will learn to love your classmates as family. I know I do. It might not seem like it now, but this will be the most memorable year of your life, so far. I know it has been for me. So have fun and know it will all turn out great. It’s no daisy, this year, at first, but it will be a beautiful year.
P.S. Don’t ever sit on the side of the trail and die. You will survive everything.
I give my room to you. I’ve given it up to move. In this room, I have laughed; I’ve cried; I’ve done my work.
And now this beautiful room is yours. I know tonight you don’ t know how you will ever survive this wacky school. You do not know how to chop wood or light the lamp. It’s easy. You may have been sent by your parents, unwilling to go at first. Or maybe you are like me and you wanted to come. It was the best decision of my life. Just one tip – have an open mind. You will love going on expeditions like I did. Waking up at 4:30 a.m. is not so bad.
Having friends for the first time in your life – feeling relieved at being wrong about something your life seemed to revolve around – learning etymology is wonderful. This may seem like the phoniest letter you have ever read, but it’s from my heart.
You may pick up an amazing book and it may change you. You will leave behind habits you hate so much. You will borrow ideas on life, virtue, and people. You will leave lacking ignorance. You will leave as an adult, confident, and with a plan.
Yeah, you might miss your family and friends, but I assure you they are not gone forever.
Freedom Mountain Academy changed me – the unchangeable. I shall say one more thing – go in with an open mind and you will find family, the future at your fingertips, and yourself. It will be worth it, my friend. It will be worth it.
P.S. Ask Mr. Dan to show you my card trick.
FMA X was a life changing experience for me. One thing I picked up this year was the calf, Max. He’s probably large now, even though he wasn’t that small to begin with. To the friends I made here, I owe a special loyalty that can never be taken back. At the beginning of the year, I arrived as a know-it-all and still a child in my thinking. One thing I have to warn you about is when your alarm clock goes off – get out of bed and don’t fall back asleep. The staff are here to be a “shoulder to your wheel,” like they were to mine, as I became a man. They also gave me a newfound love for the outdoors. The one thing I still have to work on, that I discovered this year, is my lack of inner peace. The only thing I would take back is the bloody nose I gave myself getting in a fight with a frozen glove, although it makes a great story.
P.S. Ask the staff about their grandson and nephew and his advice on the proper use of a pitchfork.
One thing I picked up was honesty. I am much more honest than I was when I first came.
One thing I gave away was my ring. I gave it to Cree so that he wouldn’t forget me.
One of the things I left behind coming here was anger. I don’t get as angry here as I do at home.
One thing I want to say is do what they tell you to, because, at the beginning of the year, I got very angry and decided that I didn’t want to work, so I didn’t. It just got worse for me, so, eventually, I decided to work normally again.
One thing I borrowed from people a lot is words. I used other people’s words a lot, which made people think less of me.
One thing I would take back is bad things I said to the junior staff. It didn’t get me in trouble, but it did make me feel bad later.
One thing I came to love is the people here. It took me quite awhile, but I did.
One thing I know I lack is not talking. I talk way too much, and I am not very patient with people.
P.S. Make sure you keep your room clean and do your work.
One thing I want to say is the year was better than I thought it would be - the fun months, the laughs, and the reflective time.
I have changed a lot in that I have a new sense of reliability and honesty. One thing I borrowed was Gorilla Glue because is sealed my expedition boots.
One thing I would like to take back is a new respect for people, trustworthiness, and a sense of responsibility.
One thing I came to love is the people around me, the views, and myself.
One thing I lack just a bit, but not much, is self-assurance.
This was my experience of FMA X.
P.S. This is an experience of a lifetime
Here at FMA I wanted to go home after a few minutes. On the last expedition you are going to want to give up, but don’t. It’s worthwhile. At home I thought I needed help on everything, but, by the end of the year, I learned that I could do things I never imagined I could do or would do. I have a sense that I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
I want to say something and that is never give up. Keep going at it. I never thought I would hike along the Appalachian Trail, but I did even sometimes with two feet of snow on the ground. I made it through the snow and I am only 5’ 3”.
I have learned a lot of Ms. Margaret’s ideas and virtues and ever since I began learning them, I have been trying to make them own. It takes work to use someone else’s “tools,” even though they know better than you, but take them and put them in your own “tool box.”
I have learned a lot that I never thought I would be learning. I still lack on some things such as taking criticism without letting it go into my heart and get me down. If you are the same way, Ms Margaret will tell you, “You’re a big, fat, purple elephant.” It isn’t true, and since there isn’t any use in arguing about it, you will learn you don’t have to believe or worry about everything that other people say about you.
One thing I will take home is the sense of achievement. You will get it too by the end of the year. Don’t let anyone put you down.
P.S. There are always cows outside your window, on Mr. Wayne’s property, and they moo a lot.
P.P.S The mountains and trees are there for you if you need someone to talk to.