Funny background story first:
My family plays a game called Wahoo. In this game, you get 4 marbles and 1 dice. If you roll a 1 or 6 you can leave your "prison" as I call it. Then you have to make it all the way around the board to your home. You have to get all 4 marbles in your home to win. The catch is, if someone lands in the same hole as your marble, you have to take that marble back to their cell until you roll another 1 or 6. If you get someone or roll a 6, you get another turn. If you win, you yell "WAHOO!" We get very competitive. One day, I was playing with 2 of my brothers and my grandmother. One of my brothers, the oldest of the 3 boys, gets one of my marbles out and starts talking smack about how he's going to destroy me and blah blah blah. And this is what I said, and also the motivational part:
"You cannot destroy me; I'm a phoenix and I will rise from my ashes."
My grandmother LOVED it! Now whenever I feel some crushing weight of defeat I tell myself that this may consume me but I will rise every time I fall. I was 14.
Morning. Putting your pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. The say habits are different than routine. I wonder if that person can look at themselves in the mirror shoulders down.
Writing. My submission landed in my spam folder. I walk away from most social situations thinking: that wasn’t my best work. I ripped that off from a tweet. Elon Musk buys Twitter and I have mustard stains on my pants from a 7-Eleven sandwich.
This isn’t about remorse. It’s about you. I have hope that when I next look in the mirror, I will see myself as a whole, and not as fragments. We are embodiments of our actions. Give your middle finger to everyone else‘s standards, and don’t forget to smile.
Life and Death
Life and death are seemingly polar opposites of each other. One is celebrated with joy among the pangs of pain. The other is loathed and shatters entire worlds. But although these concepts seem antithetical to each other, perhaps they really give each other meaning.
Would anything have meaning if our time in this world was eternal? Sure, we could find meaning in seeing the birth of stars pass by each millennia, but would a story with no end have its same taste of success or passion or fervor? Would love be so powerful if it were to last forever? What if meaning is derived not from how long it can last, but rather in how precious it is?
Without darkness, there is not light. With no light, there is no darkness. In trying to sustain the unsustainable and to try to prevent the unpreventable, it rips away the boundaries of what forms the essence of our most meaningful concepts. If such is true, then a meaningful life is captured in not how long it is lived, but how much quality can be found in every second breathed. Death may be the end of all things, but it is the ultimate reminder of what truly matters in life.
So take those risks. Dream a little bigger. Climb a little higher.
Every second matters.
Slow down, you’re doing fine.
The end of my first semester of my senior year of high school is notoriously synonymous with the end of the world as we once knew it. In March of 2020, on a Thursday afternoon, I was teaching an after school program for kids interested in pursuing Stage Production, and by the time I was home my senior prom, senior international trip, and graduation ceremony had been put on hold along with the rest of in-person schooling for the year.
For the first few weeks, I lived in a haze. I mourned the loss of my end-of-year milestones and the time left in school alongside my friends. Even after the haze had broken, the thought of returning to any of my pre-pandemic responsibilities -- homework, classes, college applications, summer employment plans -- seemed completely impossible.
I started to lose track of the date. I had become completely immersed in short-term, immediate satisfaction. I picked up addictions and habits that would take me months, if not years, to kick. I hardly left my bed. On May first, my mother peaked into my room to inform me that in my ignorance of time and space I had completely missed college commitment deadlines.
Something snapped inside of me. I was filled with panic, not only because my once distantly secure future was now blurry at best and completely black at worst, but because I realized that, even if I had gotten together the motivation or executive function to commit to one of the colleges I had been accepted to, I had no idea what I wanted out of my future. Post-high school life had always been something I was so sure of -- so sure that I never bothered to look closely enough at it to see the details.
Frantically, I began looking for plans. Jobs for the fast-approaching summer, a place to live, and a purpose to serve next school year.
Today is Friday afternoon. It has been more than two years since that Thursday. I am sitting in my office across from a seventh grade student who attends the school I work at. He is napping with his head down on the desk. He is here because ten minutes ago another student said something to him that made him so mad he felt like hitting someone. Instead he came to me.
I have just finished setting up my Ithaca College email account. My inbox is filled with messages from the Registrars office telling me what to expect from my freshman year, which starts in a few months. It is sunny outside. I hear an ice cream truck rounding the corner and sixth graders in the courtyard screaming and laughing.
The last two years of my life have been hard. I have had jobs I hated, I have been surrounded with people who hated me, and I have spent almost all that time wondering if I made the right choice waiting two years to attend college. But that time has been mine. Those two years have been mine to fuck up and learn from and fuck up all over again.
I don't remember what it felt like when the world ended. I don't remember what it felt like to be sitting on my bed, high, crying, wishing I was dead because I couldn't imagine the life that laid ahead of me.
I do remember that yesterday one of my students who hadnt turned in a homework assignment this whole year, wrote a three page essay and turned it in early.
I do remember that four days ago I committed to my dream school, and the day after that one of my children brought me a ring she made me out of elastic and beads to celebrate.
I do remember that last week I received a phone call from one of my students' mothers, during which she expressed to me how grateful she is that I have been tutoring her child in math.
The future is still hazy -- but its not black anymore. The future is still unknown -- but I am excited to know it. The future is still distant -- but I'm not looking too hard anymore, because right now the present is pretty sweet.