Wednesday, November 2, 2011
The second expedition was a 15-mile trip up Gentry Creek to the Tri-State in the Appalachian Mountains. On day one I woke up to a cool, but sunny morning, and ate a good breakfast at the school. Then I boarded the bus for a short ride to Star Gap Road, where we were dropped off to begin our adventure. A few miles up Gentry Creek, we stopped and set up our first camp. We had some classes and then went to bed.
On day two I woke up to another nice morning, and got the fire going so that my tent partner, Liam, and I could cook oatmeal. After our hot meal, we packed up and hiked farther up the creek to our next camp. There we took a short hike up to Kate Branch to do some rappelling. The rappelling was very exciting, but also scary. I felt like I was about to fall off the rock. After rappelling, we headed back to camp to eat supper and relax.
On day three I woke up to a crisp blue sky. I packed up the tent, and Liam got breakfast going over a nice warm fire. After that, we hiked up the creek, over Gentry Falls, and on to our next camp. We settled in and had some first-aid classes.
On day four, I woke up feeling very sick. I tried to eat some oatmeal, but it made me feel even worse. After breakfast, we took a hike up to the Tri-State area where Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia come together. The weather was nasty and cold, so after eating lunch at the Tri-State we headed back to camp. That night I threw up on my sleeping bag, and after I tossed it outside, tried to sleep in the freezing tent with nothing warm. I was very cold and didn’t get much sleep.
On day five, I woke up feeling much better, but still cold. We were given a rest day, and would head back to the school from that camp rather than moving on to the next one. I gathered wood and kept warm by the fire, and then got back into my tent and slept for almost sixteen hours!
On day six, we packed up and hiked down the trail in warm weather to Star Gap Road, where we saw the bus waiting for us. I was so grateful for it. It had been a long trip, and we were finally heading back to the school, and some really good chicken!
I started writing my article about a flowery quote and a hopeful message, but what’s the point in that?
I tried again, writing about a dazzling yet unrealistic idea meant to make your heart melt and tears fall. But again, what’s the point?
How many times in life have I awoken in the morning hoping that it might be the last time? That just maybe the silence would envelop me so there would be no need to face the day with false charisma and a smile?
If you haven’t already figured this out, I had some serious issues deciding what to write about. I wanted this to be honest, contemplative, and worth reading, but getting something down that applied wholeheartedly was really difficult.
So, I went with the basics: “Life is difficult.”
Here at FMA I’m reading a book by M. Scott Peck called The Road Less Traveled, in which the very first line is, “Life is difficult.”
Before going into more profound ideas about love, religion, philosophy, etc… wouldn’t it be nice to start from the beginning and comprehend that life isn’t always going to be what I want it to be? Life isn’t always beautiful, and no one ever has or ever will offer any guarantees.
Every single day is chock full of difficult circumstances and hardships. It’s how I choose to handle them that makes me who I am.
Knowing the truth about this allows me to transcend it, meaning that as soon as I come to understand and accept that life is difficult, then life is no longer difficult. Being alive is a series of complex issues, and whether or not I would like to whine about them or try to solve them is up to me. This idea is important to me because facing the circumstances of life will require me to prepare myself well, and the more prepared I am the more powerful I become.
The farm crew, consisting of myself and Jordan B., is the heart and soul of Freedom Mountain Academy. No other job on the FMA campus plays such an important role. The realization of the necessity of the job did not come to me until just recently. I used to believe that floor crew and kitchen crew were just as important, but little did I know.
Farm crew provides many things, such as eggs, wood, and food for the animals. Without Jordan and me performing these tasks, there is a strong likelihood we would all suffer to some extent.
Providing the eggs is vital because they bring us valuable nutrients and also make very tasty breakfasts. These eggs are collected each morning by either Jordan or me.
Wood, for those of you who don’t know, allow the kitchen crew to cook, and the floor crew to be comfortable while they are cleaning. It also keeps us all warm during harsh weather.
Providing food for the animals is one of the more difficult farm crew jobs. It requires either Jordan or me to take the leftover food collected from FMA meals to the pigs. Without this job being done, there would be no happy pigs, which would result in bad meals.
In my previous work experience, I have never played such a crucial role. Looking at FMA metaphorically, as a vehicle, the wood alone would account for the engine, the heater, and the radio. Without Jordan and me, we would all die of either starvation or hypothermia.
So the next time you are bragging about your job at FMA, just remember that Jordan and I are providing the most important service. Floor crew temporarily seizes dirt, but farm crew keeps the heart pumping at FMA. Farm crew eliminates death.
Soul mining is a process. I present a topic and then explore all sides of the argument with as much objectivity as I can.
For this article I am examining the reason I am at FMA. Is it to benefit me or to punish me?
The argument for punishment is this: Because I have been a malicious demon of a child I must be sent away for punishment. I have thought it extreme, being thrust out of my world into one so strange. I have been rebellious, dishonest, and uncooperative towards my parents, and I have turned away any help that was offered. Clearly this cannot go unpunished.
The argument for benefit is: Being here is an opportunity, and I must take advantage of it. My parents made the decision to send me to FMA, but it is a decision that benefits me. When I acknowledge that I need to change, and actually do the work to make the changes, I will find myself much much better.
The side I have chosen is to benefit from the experience. First I must look at those areas of my life that need improvement, and then I must do what is necessary to improve them, so I will receive the maximum benefit from my experience.
I am a student at Freedom Mountain Academy who recently experienced a new way of living. The whole class of FMA-XII just harvested chickens for a week. By doing so, we helped prepare for winter.
The procedure consisted of de-heading the chickens, followed by feather plucking and using wax to help remove the pinfeathers. When the chickens were ready they were brought to the slaughter room where three of us finished the process by cleaning, cutting, and bagging the meat. I spent most of my time in the slaughter room cutting chickens into pieces of appropriate size for eating. Meanwhile most of the other students worked outside under the clear autumn sky, many with mixed feelings about what they were doing.
For one week, from 12:40 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., during afternoon work chores, we processed 64 chickens. This procedure showed me that eating meat is not just about going to the store to buy it. I also learned what chicken body parts look and feel like. Although it was pretty gross, I know that it had to be done in order to enjoy the fresh meat on my plate.
It all started when I saw an oddly shaped item wrapped in blue giftwrap on Christmas morning. I opened it first, and to my surprise, it was a shiny, silver, brand new unicycle.
At the time I was thirteen. I was so sure I could ride it like a bike, but boy was I wrong! After a few attempts, I gave up and let it gather dust for three years.
I finally decided to pull it out the summer I turned sixteen. It was all because my very good friend, Morgan Eddy was a pro on the unicycle, and, although she doesn’t know it, I was very jealous.
I would practice during any free moment, holding onto a small wall where I could try to keep my balance. I was starting to get the hang of it when I was sent to my first boarding school. I couldn’t practice riding my unicycle there, so once again it gathered dust for a year.
When I came home, without skipping a beat, I was back at it again. Morgan and I worked together hour after hour until I finally got the hang of it. On break, I plan on taking my first ride with Morgan.
It is my opinion that here at FMA, I am both more restless and more true. This is happening because this year, the student body is made up entirely of boys.
Life without girls is much different than I would have thought. It has changed the way I act and my general attitude overall. At first I thought that there would be less complaining and more efficient work and hiking. It was incredible how wrong I was. In the absence of girls, I think we found no reason to attempt to impress each other with our extreme manliness. So, the next thing I knew, I was in a group complaining about the hiking, the weather, the work, and pretty much every other thing you can imagine.
I have noticed that without girls we all seem more willing to just be ourselves and get to know each other better. There is less fighting over pointless or ridiculous stuff. While that may not seem like much, it does seem to make a huge difference. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, its just something I’ve noticed.
There are downsides of not having any girls around. For example, when I’m actually trying to study, I seem to get sidetracked more easily than when I study with girls. When I’m studying with a girl, I can stay on topic and get the work done. Also, I find it easier to talk to girls about problems I’m having because, in my experience, they are more understanding.
So far the school year has been going pretty well. Although I think I might enjoy it more if there were girls here, in their absence, I have grown closer to the other guys, which I hope will create greater bonds of friendship in the long run.
Deryn wants to join the Royal Air Force, but in order to do so she must pretend to be a boy named Dylan. During training a freak storm causes her ship (which is actually a giant jellyfish) to crash, and she joins the crew of the Leviathan, a massive airship, which is actually a whale.
Meanwhile, Alek, who is on the run after his parents are killed, is hiding out in the Swiss Alps. When the Leviathan is attacked by German airplanes, it crash lands near where Alek is hiding, and he, against orders, helps the survivors of the crash, including Deryn. Despite his good intentions, Alek is captured by the crew of the Leviathan, and when his own crew comes to rescue him, it seems that fighting will break out.
What happens next, I am just going to let you find out for yourself, in this exciting book by Scott Westerfeld. I give Leviathan five stars out of five.
The Pianist, directed by Roman Polanski, in many ways is a horror film. However, when watching this movie, the audience does not have the luxury of pulling back and forgetting about, because everything we see in The Pianist is real life. Many people may laugh at me for calling The Pianist a horror film, but will not dispute that this powerful, eye opening true story, is an exceptionally well-made film.
The Pianist follows Wladyslaw Szpilman, one of the finest pianists in Europe, from 1939 through 1945 in Warsaw, Poland as the Nazi party takes over. It could be said that The Pianist is essentially a World War II movie about the persecution of the Jews; however, I would not demean it by putting it in the same category as other WWII films. No other movie I have seen with this premise has captured the brutality and sadness of this era as well as Roman Polanski’s film does. One of the scenes I remember most vividly is one in which two German officers pick up an old man and throw him over a ten story balcony to his death.
By this point, you are probably convinced that The Pianist is purely a savage and cruel film. It is not. While it is a hard film to watch, it is a rewarding one. It has a special charm that comes in the form of music. Szpilman, the main character, is a dedicated pianist, and when the Germans take over he is forced to abandon many of the things he loves to go into hiding. He is not able to play the piano for many years, and he is seen at various times playing the “air piano.” Through all the hardships he endures, he tries to keep alive what is important.
While many films we watch today are forgotten by the time we leave the cinema, The Pianist has a lasting impact that cannot be forgotten. A perfectly crafted piece of filmmaking, I give it five stars out of five.