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Friday, April 1, 2011

This I Believe #10, 2011

Just so I don't forget..

Due Friday, April 8th by noon.

7 comments:

  1. i have never been one to like being alone.  

    in all honesty, i despise solitude.  i avoid it as much as humanly possible, seeking comfort in the company of other living, breathing beings.  rarely do i spend any time alone.

    even so, i often find it hard to connect with other individuals in a way that truly makes me feel as if i belong somewhere.  something about me makes me feel different.  not special, just not ordinary; not like everyone else.  i feel alone in the way that i think, in the way that i experience the world.

    perhaps this mental separation from everyone else is what makes the addition of physical aloneness so overwhelmingly unbearable.  whatever it is, it leaves me yearning always to experience a true connection with the mind of another person.  a connection that would unite us through common thoughts and feelings.  a connection that would disprove the isolation that i feel so frequently.  rarely do i find someone with which i can feel so intellectually linked.


    recently i found the kind of connection i am always looking for within the pages of a highly unlikely book: the journals of a woman sixty-eight years my senior.  i would have never expected to have found within them words that seem so in tune with those i compose in my own head.  her mind is so much like my own that i find myself overcome with chills as i read sentences she put together nearly sixty years ago.  i spend countless moments buried deeply in this book, absorbing her words, feeling connected.


    the journals of sylvia plath are incredible.  i have found within them a voice very much like the one i might have if i only devoted myself to writing as she did.


    i believe i will probably stay out of close proximity of oppressive men and gas ovens, just to be on the safe side.

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  2. "Nobody believes in you."

    It's the first line of one of my favorite unpublished pieces of writing. I'm reminded of it every time my grandfather details how, because of my major, I'm never going to get a job that supports a lifestyle like that of my cousins (Who recently bought their three year old his own iPad.) When my mother tells me that I will never do the work it takes to get into grad school.

    I'm reminded of it every time I go home, and I see all the people stuck in that small town mentality, all the people who have let the belief that no one believes in them mean something it does not have to.

    But the writer of Nobody Believes in You takes a different stance on this belief than the people who never leave my hometown. Just because nobody believes in you, doesn't mean you shouldn't believe in yourself. I have learned in my life that you have to believe in yourself, because no one else will. Because if you believe in yourself in the face of all those people who are busy not believing in you, you can use that as fuel.

    Nothing motivates me to achieve something more than someone telling me I can't, or won't, ever accomplish my goals.

    Many of my friends seem turned off by the idea that nobody believes in them, and I guess there have to be different reactions to the news. Many of them don't believe that no one believes in them. That's fine, but I need to believe that nobody believes in me.

    At least some of the time.

    I need to believe that nobody believes in me, because this belief drives me to work harder for the things I want out of life. The things nobody believes I can get.

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  3. The animals picked their way through the brush, moving with the purpose of instinct but coupled with the meandering of time abundant. The woods were quiet this day; rain had fallen and the forest was still recovering. As I stood, hiding behind a grand elm, I slid along the rough wood to take a seat. I closed my eyes and listened to the cacophony of sounds around me, numerous as they were even with a fresh rain. Birds, insects (could possibly live without those, but they served their purpose), distant mammals and the sound of gunfire. Indeed, the hunting season was upon us which explained the orange attire I decided to wear so that I wouldn’t be shot.
    The forest itself was located not very far from my old home town. In fact, it was a mere 100 feet from the nearest house. The area we lived in was a quaint circle of houses with a single church and firehouse mixed in. Overall, it was your typical sleepy town with no real progress being made. Most of the inhabitants were friends or familiars. The road that split the neighborhood into two was a small one; eventually, it would split off and devolve into gravel roads barely maintained.
    All this, a great tapestry of my home, was visible to me from the woods. I used to sit and wonder at the forest from the comfort of my home…I wonder if anyone did the same but from the woods to the town. As it were, I had trouble determining when the town ended and when the forest began. It was almost harmonious…something lost when traveling to cities.
    I believe in the forests.

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  4. If one more person asks me if I’m an “art student” I’m going to scream.
    It’s not that I have anything against the label or the practice of it, it’s just something about the way they say it.
    I feel like every time someone asks me they expect me to be one of two things: the keeper of some intentionally cryptic knowledge or a total douche bag that believes himself to be such a person.
    Maybe it’s not always how they say it. Maybe it’s how I hear it.
    With all the movies and television reinforcing the stereotype of the idiosyncratic, self-absorbed, unkempt, hippie artist, my own conception doesn’t stand a chance. And with art programs disappearing from K-12 programs, it seems that that will be a more enduring association than that of Da Vinci himself.
    Something has to be done. We have to re-appropriate the term from its status as a slur. Or reframe it. Hell, I think the dynasty of street artists are on to something. We need to take art off the pedestal we put it on and smash the pedestal. Take it out of the gold frame.
    I’m not saying we should wheat paste Picassos and embrace the fragility of all things. I’m just saying we need to let art breathe, mingle a little bit, bump elbows.
    There are movie theatres, libraries, and concerts available in almost every city—all available to the public. There are free, public poetry slams here in Lexington all the time. Why aren’t there as many public artworks?
    I believe in reclaiming art and giving it back to the people.

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  5. It took forty-five minutes to ride the lawn mower from my house to the baseball field I mowed every Saturday in the summer, four hours to cut the grass, and forty-five minute to ride home again. Too long a commitment cutting into carefree vacation days, this chore challenged me to save precious seconds with innovation and efficiency.

    Saved seconds could be spent at Gus’ pond, a pond that, one winter, swallowed my brother. I passed the pond the moment I turned from Tabor to Gately Road.

    Seconds saved could become seconds made for memories in Gordon’s treehouse, perched atop the first of four hills on this dirt road: small patches of oil-pressed gravel to keep dust down in front of each house.

    Trees line the road on this first hill, the shortest and steepest by far, tangled together overhead they weave a blanket to block out the sky. I look deeply into the woods but never find the rusty barbed-wire fence that caught me, cut me, and curled me over as I ran one day through thick brush from Gordon’s to Grandma’s.

    Grandma’s house peels into view as the thick forest pulls back into a clearing, cradling chicken coops that would be captured by freak flames years later, wrapped in the darkness of a Friday night.

    Saved seconds could be spent feeding carrots and halved-apples to great grandmother’s blind ass named Sally. Sally lived at the bottom of the second hill, her master in a trailer behind her. Open fields and long hedgerows surround Sally but the forest closes in again as I roll past the property of an Iditarod champion—sled-dog teams imperceptibly quiet at the deep end of a thin driveway that sits precariously at the edge of my last descent.

    Dangerously diving through dirt-road-dust drawn high past the point where Mike’s sled passed mine and pushed me to the ditch before my brother broke my ankle, bashing himself and his laughter into my body bruised in a blue snowsuit.

    I blast from the forest, from a dusty dirt road onto black pavement, struggling to keep the mower upright as I round the corner blind to the potential of on-coming cars. Cutting fifteen minutes off my travel time, I cut fifteen more from the life of Frank Sheldon, a state trooper that clocked me at fifty, flying from the forest.

    I risked my life each Saturday until my father found out how deeply I believed in gravity and seconds it could save me.

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  6. I believe in the goodness of children.

    I guess you could call it a philosophical stance, or a professional one. Academic writings abound about the ways in which education should be based on the foundation that children are inherently good. I've read many such thinkers in education courses, just as I've encounterd thinkers who disagree and want to tame our children.

    Before college, I didn't know any of this existed. I didn't believe that children were inherently good.

    I had watched children play, with such joy and happiness beaming in their little smiles. I had watched children sit enraputred by a book, and watched children who just couldn't sit still because they were so excited by the story being read. I had watched children showing each other infinite kindness, not even knowing they could expect something in return. I had watching sharing, love, joy, creativity, and beauty.

    Before college, I didn't believe children had an inherent goodness. I knew it. It was a fact. Never occurred to me that there was a deabte; how could anyone think differently​?

    Now, I believe in the goodness of children. Actually, I revise my statement:

    Now, I believe in the goodness of children and I believe that the goodness of children is, in fact, a fact.

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  7. A testimonial

    To the Sunday morning I ask her, “Tell me about your day,” meaning, “How is your grandmother?”, meaning, “Why is it you can’t write about your life when you’re in the middle of it”, meaning, too, “I feel the same way.” To the time she makes me 4 cups of Sweet & Spicy tea and I worry that I am drinking her out of a season’s supply and it’s only November. We sit at her kitchen table and talk about her calves bruising every time she dives in the water.

    To the afternoon I see their faces flanked by exotic parrots, a tattered palm tree, and a ham strung from a 20-foot ceiling. “Aloha,” they call. Today it is green hair exploding above blond eyebrows; another woman’s Turkish-style pants, 2 sizes too large; and a pair of lilac sandals: one of 144. They go off to pack for their departure in May: 1 backpack and a suitcase of poetry. “We’ll be poor,” they assure me, proud smiles marking their own moment of irony.

    To the 3 pm smell of dark coffee that hugs us as she tells me she is fearful of the world. She looks at me from behind overgrown purple bangs and expects me to comfort her. I wonder who told her I have the answers, how she found me. To the moment I realize I am responsible even though I did not birth her or seek her friendship. The blue peace sign over us sways every time someone enters.

    To the evening I know that after 4 years we’ve become friends. “Hello, Angel,” I begin. They talk of keyholes, literature, and rebellion, their voices steady and unafraid. As we make lists for the party on Friday, I wonder if Peter would think I, too, am the perfect hostess. “Remember your poems, remember to love,” I remind them. They wave back from the other side.

    To the moment I realize why I believe in my students.

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