Tag Archives: life

The Power of Art

I’m graduating college in a week, which means more blogging and more features. The hope is I churn a feature out each week. This should be one of many over the ensuing weeks.

Since fourth grade, I’ve played the euphonium. Participating in band was a way to connect with people, I was told. My father played trombone. It was a way for us to connect.

By junior high, I was committed and for a bit, considered if music was a profession worth pursuing for myself. I earned a seat in numerous honor bands, participated in one of the finest music programs in the state at North Hills and furthered my love and knowledge of music. During my senior high years, we put together some stunning performances. We were an ensemble of young teens who all had a committed vision of excellence and perseverance. We channeled our passions through it, our hope through it, our dreams through it. We were pressured day after day to do better and despite my doubts, we reached another echelon each and every time.

But despite all this, I was ready to move on after high school. By senior year, I had stopped practicing entirely, my attention and dedication pulled to other areas of my life. I thought it was time to let it go. Had it not been for a scholarship my school had offered for my musical talent, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it. Looking back, that was a foolish thing to think.

Now a senior in college, I’ve played for 13 years and I may have played my last concert two Saturday’s ago.

I put my horn back in its case and gazed at it a little longer than I usually do because I know I may not see it again for months if not years. As a journalism professional with a gradually expanding social circle and vastly expanding list of responsibilities, some of my hobbies have started falling to the wayside. Sadly, the euphonium has become one of them.

I do not say music because it hasn’t and never shall.

Since I’m a movie critic, you should expect a reference to a movie. Well, here it is. The Hope Is a Dangerous Thing scene from The Shawshank Redemption is one of my all-time favorite excerpts. Here, I could go on a ten-minute tangent discussing how criminal it is that The Shawshank Redemption didn’t win an Academy Award but that’s for another time. Instead, I’m going to talk about these snippets of dialogue:

“That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you.”

“You need it so you don’t forget, forget that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone, that there’s something inside that they can’t get to, they can’t touch. It’s yours.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Hope.”

At our most weathered and most tortured, at our most basic form, the arts still remain. A deaf man can still hear the music. A blind man can still see the art. A paralyzed man can still feel the dance. The arts inspire as much as they transform, as much as they remind us of what we once were and what we still can be. They are a universal language, a doorway to the soul.

They make you believe.

They make you feel.

They make you hope.

Sports has become a universal language. The arts, as well as sports, transcend linguistic barriers. Sports, as I explained in my We All feature, have the ability to overcome racial, social, economical, political and religious divides, unifying a diverse group to one aim. When Landon Donovan scored in the 2010 World Cup, the United States erupted. There were no detractors. There was no debating. There was a roar, a roar bellowing in the soul. It was a roar that roared, “Yes” and so much more than that. This raucous sound wasn’t a brick of sound. It was a tidal wave so large it’s immeasurable.

The same could be said when Manchester City scored two goals in four minutes to capture its first English Premier League title since 1968.

Sports, as well as the arts, convey the things that words sometimes can’t. In select moments, you will feel a chill on your back, an epiphany full of an aura that can only be described one way: heavenly. It is the most joyous of feelings, a feeling that will last only seconds but carries with it a mass of emotion. It reverberates inside of us. It is a feeling that replicates the vivacity of a child, unbound and free. It is a chant of ecstasy, a concussion of jubilation, a pulse-pounding ricochet contained in our hearts. It is the commanding presence of the brass, the force of the winds and strings and the crash of the percussion. It is genuine beauty, untouched and unsoiled, in its purest form. It is euphoric.

Most of all, it is an affirmation as much as a confirmation of what we already know, that we’re capable of anything and that no matter how many times we’re torn apart, you can’t separate the arts, the eternal flame, from the man.

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Regret

Life is full of it. No matter what you do, you’ll have it.

It will track you down like a lion tracks a gazelle, grass brushing against its fur, paws clumping in the mud right before the pounce.

In the blink of an eye, you’re down. You don’t even know what happened.

Where did it all go wrong? How did it come to this?

It’ll tear into you, it’ll cut you and you’ll bleed.

You’ll bleed a lot.

You won’t remember the last time you were in this much pain and anguish.

You’ll get angry. The fires of rage will encompass your soul as you curse the person, people or the decision that has done this to you.

For days you’ll rage, smash your whole being against the cage you find yourself entrapped in.

You will pound on those bars until your skin is raw and the blood has dried, until your bones are numb and your muscles tense.

You will tighten yourself, hide who you are, how you feel, what you did.

You will cloud yourself with hate. You will silently curse the person you once cared for, ask for their damnation.

You have no remorse, no solace to retreat to and no love in you.

For days you have lost part of yourself and are half if not less of your former self.

Part of you has entered a coma and your other half hates that half for ever opening up, for ever considering making the decision you made.

It loathes that half. It detests it. It condemns it.

It never wants to be whole again. Neither do you.

After these crucial days, you begin to realize what they did to you and what you did to yourself.

That’s when it first hits.

That’s when you realize the hammer came down.

That’s when you know you didn’t do enough or you did nothing at all.

Opportunity walked up to you and smirked and briskly walked away before you could even notice.

It came right under your nose and you didn’t do a damn thing about it.

You remained frozen like a philosopher, overflowing with “what ifs” instead of opening your eyes.

You allowed Doubt and Fear to handle the joystick.

You didn’t even put up a fight to stop them.

Or perhaps you have regret for something you did. Or for someone.

You should have never said those things you said.

You should have never devoted yourself to someone who not once devoted themselves to you.

Someone who not once reached out first, who not once showed they cared.

You remain isolated like a lost soldier in the snow.

Don’t know what to stand for, what to fight for, what to live for.

You learn from your mistakes but continue wondering how you ever made them.

Continue to ponder if you’ll ever get a chance to start over.

The burden of not knowing if you’ll get the chance weighs down on you like a monsoon.

Drenched, weathered and cold.

Your will is tattered and your soul is battered, but you got to keep going.

You got to push yourself. You got to believe.

Your compass can waiver but it must not fail.

You must give your family and friends an ideal to strive towards.

You must set the example. You must set the bar.

Not just for others but for yourself.

Push the limits. Demonstrate resolve.

Be better. Try harder.

Strive to be a better you each day.

Regret will always persist. It will never leave. The only choice we have is what we do now.

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The Breaking Point

I claimed the floodgates of WordsofWisTIM were opening. Instead they stalled and I apologize. I also can’t say that they’re likely to open anytime soon either because internship searching, resume writing and school work pervade. Just know that I miss writing movie reviews and other content on here and I will return…eventually.

This post is about the breaking point, the point that defines when we finally look at life and say, “I quit.” I’m not talking about suicide. I’m talking about when you look at what’s around you and you’re trying to win all the battles by yourself and you’re overwhelmed so much that you just break down.

I reached my breaking point Saturday…almost.

Looking for internships and building a resume is one of the most stressful experiences I’ve had to go through and continue to go through today. It is also extremely demotivating because unless you have family all over the surrounding area, your internship radius is extremely limited. For example, I can’t take an internship in Kentucky. I need to be able to commute because as you should well know, most internships don’t pay. Looking for people willing to give you a chance is stressful enough. When you only have a select few you can look at, it’s even worse.

Add to that upcoming deadlines on assignments and a college newspaper (not my own) that won’t answer my calls for material on an assignment that’s due Tuesday and you feel like you’re trying to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with one arm.

To summarize, I’m stressed and sadly my stress and workload has gotten in the way of this blog. Again, my apologizes and I will do my best to try to get content out in the coming weeks.

So I’m writing an article about homelessness for one of my classes. I had lots of trouble finding someone to talk to, far more trouble than I expected. On a Saturday night, I go to my local shelter for what is perhaps my last chance to get a good source before I returned to school. I was very nervous and anxious. My confidence in others far exceeds the confidence I have in myself.

As a youngster, I used to read the stories in Exodus, the stories of the Israelites turning away from God right after they were saved from the Egyptians. Despite the many miracles he provided them, they still found a way to turn away. Reading those at a younger age, I always found myself asking why God bothered helping them when they couldn’t believe in him for an extended period of time.

Yet here I was, wondering where that plan that God has for me was yet again, all because events were not transpiring at the rate that I wanted them to. That night I had two great interviews and was reminded everything will be okay.

Today, that paper finally got back to me, a mere 24 hours before my assignment is due.

Based off these two events, I think I’ve come to learn the importance of believing during the times you struggle the most yet again. It’s a recurring theme with me, yet one that I need to be reminded of on an almost continual basis.

So remember when you’re about to break down, shut off and just cry, remember to take a second to pray to the guy behind the controls. That’s the guy you should be talking to, not to everyone else.

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Year One of WordsofWisTIM

On May 13, 2013, I started WordsofWisTIM to further my journalistic talent and to share my knowledge, wisTIM and opinions with others. 2,845 views, 69 followers, 149 posts and 1,267 tags later, WordsofWisTIM lives on and continues to prosper, thrive and grow in so many ways just as I feel I’ve grown in this last year. I read through my posts, all 149 of them, when I was making my Tim’s Favs page and I could really see the difference between how I was writing then and how I’m writing now. It’s been a blast and I’m happy that I gave it a go.

Most Views

In a day: 64, May 5, 2014

In a week: 203, week of May 5, 2014

In a month: 434, April 2014

 

Then again, WordsofWisTIM wouldn’t mean anything if it weren’t for my readers

Because a writer’s thoughts, words and aspirations are quite meager

If no one’s taking them in on the other side.

My words are like a tide.

There are a lot of waves out there. I know, I’ve been.

I have to hope the extra punch, extra heart and extra feeling that I put in

Knocks the air outta your lungs, makes an impact

Makes a difference and paints an abstract

Because that’s what I want to be.

I want to be “something that concentrates itself in the essential qualities

Of anything more extensive or more general, or of several things.”

I need to hope my writings ring.

I have a goal in mind.

It’s a goal that I did find.

“Existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence.”

That doesn’t mean I’m looking for magnificence.

It means that when my time here is done

I want to be able to say that I did more than have fun.

I want to be able to say I made my mark

That I had a profound, significant and stark

Effect on somebody

And not nobody

That my presence here

Meant something dear

And that I won’t fade

Like a masquerade.

I want my words to be sublime

Make you think, this guy’s worth my time

That I’m able to elevate myself above the rest

Not to say I’m better or that I’m the best

But to say I’m worth listening to, worth reading, worth understanding and worth knowing.

I’m young and still growing

But I know what I want.

Many are still on the hunt.

Some want fame or riches. Mine is to be missed.

My want is purpose.

It’s simple and complex

Because purpose perplexes.

It’s both solid and flexible

And yet at times it feels unattainable

But if you keep trying

Keep striving

Keep walking

Keep talking

Keep feeling

And keep believing

I think you’re bound to find it some day.

You can’t just take your insecurities and doubts and throw them away.

It’s a game of hide-and-seek and you’re on the seek.

Don’t let the frustration and seemingly hopeless situation get your hopes bleak.

Just keep looking for what you want most

Because just when you’re about to give up the most

You’ll fall upon it after all your miserable strife

And that will be the happiest and most reassuring moment of your life.

 

In conclusion, thanks for sticking with me and reading. It matters.

So far, I’ve written 93 movie reviews. Below are the movies strong enough to climb to the top ten and the garbage that splattered onto the worst of the worst list up to this point.

Here’s to another great year!

The Top Ten

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: 98

2. Miracle: 97

3. Spider-Man 2: 96

4. The Green Mile: 96

5. Prisoners: 96

6. 42: 96

7. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: 95

8. Mission Impossible III: 95

9. Spider-Man: 95

10. Iron Man 3: 95

 

The Worst of the Worst

10. A Haunted House: 40

9. The Contract: 37

8. Redemption: 35

7. Pride and Prejudice: 34

6. Thor: The Dark World: 29

5. The Sum of All Fears: 22

4. Midnight Cowboy15

3. Dark Fury13

2. Open Grave: 10

1. Alien 3: 5

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Looking for Nothing

If you’ve been following my blog for more than three weeks, you probably read my life post about the future.

In that post, I said:

“I’m going to be the man I wanna be.

And I’m going to be that man with those special to me

And all the strangers that walk by

On the off-chance that I make a difference in them aside from a sigh.”

Did I mean what I said? Yes. However, I admit that sometimes I’m not always at my best. I try to be, but sometimes I don’t. Some days aren’t so great and I just don’t feel like talking to people or the effort to do so seems like an additional thing that I’m not obligated to do.

Yesterday, at 1:30 am, I was bored, but not tired in the least bit. I’m usually in bed by then but I’ve been filled with energy the last few days and have been going to bed especially late while waking up just as early. My brother showed me a YouTuber about a month ago named dangmattsmith. He does comedy over chat roulette with random strangers. It looked like it could be fun although I admit I was a little uneasy about doing so. I’m a guarded individual who doesn’t jump out of his comfort zone to get to know people. Yesterday was the exception.

So I went to Omegle.com, the chat roulette site that dangmattsmith uses and gave it a shot. I mean, what else am I going to do at half past one?

The Omegle experiment went nowhere for the first half hour. Just a waste of time, people constantly skipping me and not interested in doing anything. I turned my camera towards my can pyramid that I have at school (what else is a poor college student going to build stuff with?), because I find it interesting and thought perhaps someone else would too.  

Apparently that was not the case. However, I was still bored and video games, television and reading have no allure to me at 2 in the morning so I just kept going on the off-chance that I ran into someone worth talking toSnapshot_20140422_1. Eventually I ran into two girls that looked about 16 or so. They didn’t hit next right away, which gave me the chance to say hey and soon a conversation had begun.

I was looking at two teenage girls while they were looking at a pyramid of cans. Small talk continued until they asked to see me. I’m not the most attractive guy and don’t impress the ladies with my appearance so I hesitated to do so out of fear that I’d be skipped Snapshot_20140422immediately and I was beginning to feel
inadequate after being skipped more times than I can count. I apprehensively moved the camera towards myself and got a positive reaction. To not be judged by your cover is nice. The conversation continued until the one girl went to bed and the other posed a question to me: “So, what’s your story?” I was taken back by this. I don’t share such things with strangers or better yet, people who I meet randomly online at two in the morning. Instead, we shared three true stories and one false and the other had to guess the false one, ala two truths and a lie slightly revamped. My stories were convincing and my lie unspoiled. Hers were not so lucky as I am a clever thinker and reader.

“Now what?” I asked myself. I was enjoying the conversation and would like it to continue as my pillow was still not calling my name. Rather than tell our true stories, my young friend thought of another creative idea: we guess each others. It was a fascinating premise and so I went along with it. My “personality dissection” of her was scarily accurate, down to some of the closest details, so close to the reality that I admit I impressed myself with all that I had learned about this person in a meager hour and a half. I was just amazed.

More thought-provoking conversation was had. We talked until five. That’s right, that’s not a typo. 5 in the morning. It was a conversation that I had never had before with someone I had not known a mere three and a half hours prior. She was smart far beyond her years, including using the word “usurped” in a sentence correctly, a word I thought she had misspelled when she had meant to say surprised (shows how much I know). She knew the world and how life worked incredibly well for her age at only 14 (younger than I had thought).

I was impressed but most of all I was thankful, thankful that I had randomly went onto Omegle expecting to waste a couple hours of my life and instead found someone who made those hours not just worthwhile, but life-altering.

In my opinion, there are few things more worthy of being treasured and cherished then when you went somewhere looking for nothing and ending up unveiling something incredible, like finding a pure pearl in a cracked oyster along the shore when you were just walking along the beach to waste time before you had to go to work. It shows that for once, someone or something was looking for you and further more, to them, you were a diamond that was worth digging for.

The feeling of being searched for, of being especially useful in someone else’s life, can be matched by few things. It lifts you up when you weren’t looking for a trampoline but a dry highway, and the air that rushed around you during that time you spent up in the air was a cool rush to a heated and stressed individual so that when you hit the ground, you’re running. You’re running fast. You’re searching for something again, with a whole new resolve and determination that you haven’t felt in a while. You’re smiling, more than usual and you don’t know why, but you just have this stupid grin on your face. You have this feeling in your stomach. It’s not love or the want of love. It’s not anger, fear, jealousy, or hatred. It’s happiness. Pure and unsoiled happiness. You don’t know how long that feeling is going to lie there, but I know I wish I could take it out of my stomach and look at it, admire it, draw a picture of it even though I’m artistically challenged and pin that scribble on my wall, so I can have a visual and physical model of what that feeling is.

I rip out a piece of paper and grab a pen, with no clue as to what I’m going to draw. I don’t stop to think. I just start drawing, scribbling all sorts of lines and shapes and thicks and thins. I shade in different depths of darkness and do my best to accent what I’m feeling into a picture. It only takes ten minutes so it’s not a masterpiece by any means. I look at what I’ve drawn for the first time and I’m shocked. The image that I’ve drawn, the symbol, the visual representation that I’ve drawn: is me.

I throw the picture down and run to the mirror. I look at myself, with the same shocked look on my face. I lift my hand up and close my jaw manually because the muscles don’t seem to be functioning. I look at every aspect of my being for one…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…nine…ten seconds and then… something begins to change. My upper lip begins to lift and then the corners. I can’t control it. It’s as natural and automatic as my heartbeat. The change is complete and I study myself again. I’ve never seen this look before, not like this.

It’s that stupid grin again. It’s bright and voluminous and my teeth start popping out. My eyes start welling up a little with tears of joy. I’m just so happy, oh so happy.

We all wish we could be as happy as I am now all the time. I no longer wish that because I know if we felt like this all the time it wouldn’t be as special, heartfelt, inspirational or as liberating as it is.

So the next time you’re bored and looking for something to do, go on Omegle, or for a walk. Do something that gets you moving (a.k.a. not watching television or playing video games). You’ll be looking at the ground and pacing and you just, you just might, run into something special or have something special thrown upon you.

So…what’s your story?

 

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Why Sports Are More Than Just a Game

I take sports very seriously. It might be my competitive edge, my love of competition, did I mention competition? It’s just fun. I gotta win, you know?

My friends and family ask me to calm down, tell me getting upset over it isn’t worth it. I know they mean well, that they’re only looking out for my well-being, but sometimes, that’s simply not the case, because sports are more than just a game.

Sports can break barriers before society fully embraces them, like the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson did with the color barrier long before the Civil Rights Movement, the same way sports are accepting gay athletes before gay rights are cemented as more than a concept.

They establish and develop community, helping cities with diverse populations come together on common ground.

When tragedies occur, people look for guidance, for hope, and for change. Sometimes it occurs in political action, relief efforts and public service. Other times, sports rise to the occasion.

On a day that will never be forgotten, September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center Towers were destroyed and over 3,000 Americans lost their lives. The following January, the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl. Is it a play on words? Yes, yes it is, but the effect was their, because we all could believe.

After the New England area was tortured by the Sandy Hook Massacre and Boston Marathon bombings, the Boston Red Sox went on to win the World Series after many expected them to be the cellar dwellers in the AL East.

Surely we can’t forget about the Japanese women’s soccer team that won the 2011 World Cup over the U.S. after a magnitude 9 earthquake and a tsunami tore through Japan, taking the lives of more than 18,000 and displacing hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Finally, and in my opinion, without question, the most momentous sporting event to ever occur in the history of sports, the Miracle on Ice lifted a nation. The economy in shambles and the U.S.S.R dominating the world in every facet, all hope in the future seemed lost and irrational for many American families.  That fateful 1980 Olympics showed the world and the U.S. that there is always hope. If you haven’t watched the film Miracle, you really should. I’ve posted a link to my review here. The final monologue of the film, given by Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks, reads: “…Young men willing to sacrifice so much of themselves, all for an unknown. A few years later, the U.S. began using professional athletes at the Games- ‘Dream Teams’. I always found that term ironic because now that we have Dream Teams, we seldom ever get to dream. But on one weekend, as America and the world watched, a group of remarkable young men gave the nation what it needed most- a chance, for one night, not only to dream, but a chance, once again, to believe.”

It’s a moment I wish I could go back and see, but I suppose a recording of the game will have to do.

Keep this in mind the next time you watch a sporting event. Some athletes only play for the paychecks, but many play for something greater, something bigger than they could ever be. And that, my friends, is worth watching.

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The Rules of Life

Spring break is now officially over and if you recall I promised I would start writing a life post weekly and I have declared Sunday to be the day. However, due to a lack of time yesterday, my life post comes today. My sincerest apologizes.

I had a conversation with a friend recently. It began when I heard the story of the Duke porn star on the Philip DeFranco show on YouTube. If you have never watched the Philip DeFranco show, he’s a guy who talks about the news that mattered to him on each day and I find him to be entertaining in his presentation of the news and how he highlights the stories that truly matter. I’d strongly suggest checking him out.

At the end of the video, DeFranco posed a question to his audience: What is your opinion of the Duke porn star and should she be allowed to do porn to pay for school?

I commented that if she was my daughter I would be very upset but at the same time I don’t know what her situation is or what her life is like. However, I did feel there was an easy solution to her problem: don’t attend a $60,000 a year school if you can’t afford it.

I turned to my friend and asked his opinion on the story. His response: I don’t care.

Among the many combinations of words that we are gifted with, the phrase “I don’t care” is probably the one that I hate the most. The phrase “I don’t care” says it doesn’t affect me directly so why should I be concerned with it. It’s not about me, it doesn’t focus on me and therefore it must not be worth my time. It’s a phrase that paints a picture of pure selfishness and arrogance, someone who doesn’t care about anything except himself, and those are the type of people that I can’t stand.

Was my friend trying to paint such a picture? Of course not, it just came out, but to say you don’t care irritates me. There are some things that aren’t worth caring about. I understand that. However, most of the time the phrase is used in regards to something that matters not just to me, but plenty of other people.

So, I pressured my friend, saying that he must have some sort of opinion on the story. He answered, “Well, it’s legal so I guess I’m okay with it.”

I didn’t like his answer, not because his answer was what it was, but the reasoning he gave for it.

“Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. Does that mean you’re okay with the Westboro Baptist Church, too?” I said.

“Freedom of speech, so yeah.”

“What about racism? There’s no law against that. I guess you’re okay with that, too.”

“I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.”

The conversation ended there and afterwards I admit I was quite frustrated. It wasn’t because my friend and I couldn’t see eye to eye. It was because of the reasoning he partook in. His backing for every answer that he gave was what the law says is right and wrong. From his perspective, if the law says it’s wrong, then it must be wrong and if the law doesn’t say anything about it then it must be acceptable.

Is that the way laws are supposed to work? Yes. However, when our congressman and representatives draw up legislation, it is not because they are the highest authority and are far wiser than us. It’s because they got voted in.

Laws are meant to be a visual framework of morality. Morality is subjective and isn’t the same for every person and recognizing this, governments attempt to make a universal morality that a majority can agree is right and good, but as I said, morality is subjective.

There are plenty of examples of history where legal proceedings fought against the moral right. The Civil Rights Movement is a prime example. Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed for protesting racial injustice. Does that mean he was in the wrong? I would hope most would say King was in the right.

On the other side of the fence, we have the Westboro Baptist Church, a group of people who hide behind a religious book that preaches peace and love and twist its meaning so that it benefits their demeaning purpose of breeding hate in people and showing hate to all who are unlike them. Picketing a soldier’s funeral: What is right about that?! What on God’s green Earth says, “this is acceptable” aside from a stupid piece of parchment?! When the freedom of speech was written into the Constitution, this is not what the founding fathers meant by this. Any sensible person can see that.

Some rules are necessary and most are acceptable, but if you’re living your life according to another person’s limitations, then what’s the point of living, or better yet, being a good person, aside from the fact that the men upstairs won’t have to discipline you for your actions? Your conscience, beliefs and experiences are what should be making your decisions and your opinions, not lawmakers. If you’re letting lawmakers make your decisions and opinions, then you’re just a cog in the machine, a pawn in a game of chess, expendable and of little value. And with all due respect, if you’re living life this way, you’re not living it right.

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An 8-year-old hero

On January 24, I was doing my prep work before going on-air for my radio shift. Looking through the top news sites such as NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, CNN, even Google, I found nothing that stood out to me as something worth talking about. I was tired of talking about the ongoing war in Syria that has not made any progress. I was tired of talking about celebrities doing stupid things again and again such as Bieber’s recent arrest.

I was ready to give up altogether until I found this story. A story of an 8-year-old who, on Martin Luther King Day, decided to stay at his grandfather’s trailer in a suburb of Rochester.

According to an article by NBC, “the trailer caught fire about 4:45 a.m., most likely because of an electrical problem. Tyler Doohan went through the trailer and was able to wake six people-including two other kids, ages 4 and 6-who all made it out alive. But then Tyler went back in to try to help his uncle Steven Smith, who used a wheelchair because he’d lost part of his leg.”

Sadly, Tyler never made it out.

“His mother said she’d always made it a point to teach her son to be brave.

‘If anybody ever picked on him, he would come home and cry about it and I would tell him ‘It’s all right-they’re just jealous of you.’ He just wanted friends. He would never fight back.’

By Wednesday evening, almost 1,000 people had contributed to a fund to pay for Tyler’s funeral, many of whom left heartfelt messages.

‘Tyler-you are a hero in every sense,’ one wrote. ‘May your selfless act of true love be inspirational for all, and may it and the wonderful way you lived your way too short life provide some solace to your family at this profound time of sadness.”

It’s a sad story, one that few want to read, just because it’s so tragic. However, at the same time, Tyler’s story gives us life. His sacrifice is one to be admired, honored, and remembered. When I was eight, I know I wasn’t saving people from burning homes. I was playing with action figures or playing Mario Kart.

The truth is that Tyler, an 8-year-old boy, had already discovered what it meant to be a man.  He exhibited more character and more bravery than many will exhibit their entire lives.

While painful, Tyler’s story is one I will remember because it shows there is hope left in humanity, that there is still good left in the world and like Sam says in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, “it’s worth fighting for.”

Something tells me that Tyler was smarter than his years. While we’ll never know for certain, something tells me he believed in something similar to Sam. I wish I could have met Tyler. I wish I could have asked him why he did what he did, what was going through his mind. Most of all, I wish I could have known him, because had I, I would have known a side of Jesus Christ, for what can one do that is more selfless than risking one’s life for another?

Tyler did what no adult there was willing to do and for that he deserves to be remembered. It’s a shame I had to search through the internet for a half hour to find this story, because to me and to all like me, this was the only story that truly mattered. God Bless Tyler Doohan and those like him.

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One of Life’s Obstacles

Life can be kind and life can be cruel. It can reward us and punish us, raise us up and beat us down. As a natural pessimist, I tend to have trouble looking at the positives but have gotten better at doing so over the past few years. Obstacles will constantly get in our way. Some are avoidable and others are not and the one I’d like to talk about today is one that’s not.

In seventh grade, I was in a print design class and we had to make a print, one that we would copy onto a notepad. I didn’t have a lot of time to think of what to put on it, so I decided to put a hockey goalie in front of a net and in front of him put the words “Sports are Life.” As you can probably guess, I love sports and even though the statement is most certainly not true, sports meant and still mean a lot to me. I’m a competitive person who loves to play sports. I played soccer for three and a half years and I played deck hockey for three. While baseball’s not my cup of tea, I’ll still play it if given the opportunity. Football is a lot of fun and basketball is a good workout. I’ll play most sports, except for frisbee, because I’m just horrible at it.

Despite my love of sports, I was always the last pick in recess or in pick-up games during gym. At 5’3″ and 110 pounds, I understood why. However, I had something that a lot of kids that played didn’t have: heart and a will to win. Despite that, all anyone could see was a short scrawny kid with glasses. Everyone assumes that if you wear glasses then you can’t play sports and can’t have any athletic qualities. Eric Dickerson, who has the record for most rushing yards in a single season, wore glasses, as did NBA points leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at one point in his career.

Football was played at recess during elementary school and every time I was the last pick. I was lucky if I got the ball thrown to me one time the entire game and even if I made a good play on defense, that didn’t change anything. I ran a route, the ball went to the other side of the field. That’s just how it went.

A feeling of disappointment usually followed me after every recess, knowing I was never good enough to get thrown to. This reminds me of the movie Rudy. Now I only saw it once and I wasn’t that wild about it. Maybe if I watched it again I would feel differently about it. However, the message of the movie could not have been anymore clear-cut. That message was everyone deserves a chance, and not just a chance, but a fair chance.

I never got one of those today when I played football with a couple of guys on my dorm floor. I was open across the middle on at least five different occasions and the quarterback even made eye contact with me a couple of times. He saw I was open, but decided not to throw it to me, because I’m me. (I’m 6’1″ and 150 pounds now, but I’m still considered the same cornstalk) The ball went to the same three people for most of the game on our team which is why we got crushed 10-5. The other team knew how to spread the ball around, even to those that weren’t as athletic as others. By the end of the game, everyone had gotten the ball except for one person: me. I may be used to the feeling, of what it feels like to be left out, ignored and excluded, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it nor will I. The sting of non-acceptance will always be there, no matter how old you are. Plenty of people will look down on you as the nerdy, scrawny kid with the cornstalk figure, not as the person you really are, not as the person with the heart of a lion, or as the kid who refuses to give up, because that would require looking past the outside and looking into who you really are and if you don’t have cool looks then you can’t be cool right? You must be a lame person if you don’t have the face of a celebrity or the looks of Ryan Reynolds or whoever ladies find attractive, right?

It’s a shame people couldn’t learn from the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” when they were little. I know I had that lesson shoved down my throat by the tv show Thomas the Tank Engine when I was a kid and it wasn’t a lesson that was hard to learn. It just seemed polite and politically correct. Treat others as you would like to be treated, etc. You would think that people would be able to learn from simple lessons like these, but apparently nobody when they were kids listened to anything their parents said to them. I mean I didn’t believe everything my parents told me or followed all the rules that they created, but you can bet that I listened to them. If my parents were talking to me I was listening, one because it’s polite and respectful, two things that the children of this generation don’t seem to have, and two, because I cared what they said to me, as every child should.

Whether it’s because of poor parental guidance or just crappy people, being judged by outward appearance as well as being judged unjustly is not fun nor right. It would be nice if people could just get to know other people as people, get to know them by who they are rather than feel like they already know them based on what they look like.

As for overcoming this obstacle, I don’t think everyone can. I’m 20 years old. I’ve probably lived a fourth of my life already and I’m still getting categorized. All you can do is keep striving, keep battling, and keep fighting because on the off-chance that fair chance that everyone deserves does come by, you’re going to want to be ready for it so you can excel in front of the eyes of all the doubters, to show you’re just as special as everyone else.

 

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My Last Night of Freshman Year at Waynesburg University

So on Thursday night, my friends Austin, Matt, his roommate John, and I were all supposed to get together and play Call of Duty Black Ops 2 zombies for a few hours. I have gotten really good at the game throughout the year. An average score is probably about 50,000 points, 500 kills and to get to round 18. My high score is 172,940 points, 1,444 kills, and round 31. Needless to say, I’m pretty good and was looking forward to it.

Well, I got out of my last final at about 7:30, and found Austin and Matt with the Xbox set up in the main floor lounge watching YouTube videos. I asked what the plan was and Austin said that we were probably going to play around 9. Then John’s car broke down and Austin had to go pick him up. Austin told me to watch the Xbox, as in make sure no one took it. I said okay and asked if the Call of Duty disc was in it, and Austin said no, his roommate Cody had taken it home, only then realizing that Cody had taken the Call of Duty disc, and that therefore we had no disc to play the game. Austin went to get John while I watched Castle on tv, because it was the only thing on. Matt came back and said his roommate, John, had Call of Duty for the ps3, so they were going to try and find two more ps3 controllers so that all four of us could play. He then said he and Austin were going to the woods to burn some stuff and asked if I wanted to come along. Matt had been involved in a long distance relationship for a while that didn’t end up working out, so he wanted to burn the love letters he had received from her, and Austin wanted to burn his calculus notes. John wasn’t going to be able to go because he was worrying about getting his car fixed. I thought about it for a couple of seconds and then decided not to go. Matt left to get Austin and leave. I thought about it for a couple more minutes, thought about all the times Mom and Dad had pressured me to spend time with friends. I also thought about the stereotypical image of a bunch of guys circled around a campfire. Thinking of these two things, I turned off the tv and headed outside to tag along. Man, I wish I hadn’t done so.

So Matt had gone to this one wood clearing before with his roommate and one of his other friends and decided that that would be a good place to build this small campfire. So Austin drove us to the area and we began to climb to this clearing. What my friend Matt failed to mention was that this clearing could be reached only after ascending a hill with a 40 degree slope. Eventually we reached the clearing and burned everything and by the time we were done, it was probably around 8:45, so it was getting dark. Looking down the hill, I said that getting down would not be fun, but Matt said it shouldn’t be too bad. Needless to say, Matt was wrong. Austin and I had worn shorts and our best pair of shoes, and Austin’s were one of those $150 stylish pairs that had zero tread on them. Austin and I did a lot of falling. About half way down, I checked my pockets to make sure that my wallet and phone were still in there, because stuff is coming out of my pockets all the time, so I’ve gotten in the habit of checking them quite often. I was going to tell Matt and Austin to do the same, but for some reason, elected not to. In 15 minutes, I was going to regret that decision as well, for when we were nearly to the bottom, Matt mentioned to Austin to remember that he had Austin’s room key in his zippered back pocket. Austin’s reaction was to check his own pockets for his valuables, only to find his car keys weren’t there, the car keys to his brand new 2013 Subaru Forester.

Luckily, Austin had a spare key, a key which he had wisely chosen to bring with him to school and keep in his room. However, Austin had kept a sentimental object on that keychain from a camp that he had attended, one he was not interested in losing. The keychain was also green, which even if it was daylight, wouldn’t have helped a whole lot since the entire hillside was green. By now, it was 9:15, and I couldn’t see much of anything. Slowly, we made our way back up the hill, the same hill that we had just spent the good part of a half hour falling down. We had our phones out trying to shed some light so we could see something, but as expected, the search produced no results.

We went back to the dorm lobby and Austin said he was going to put on some pants and hiking shoes and go out a second time, and one of our mutual friends, Parker, said he was going with him. Matt and I looked at each other like, “Are you kidding me?” It was at least 10, and we had just barely made our way down the hill. I had been chewed to bits by all the bugs and my white shoes were filthy. Matt and I had said we were willing to pack up tonight and wake up early the next morning and go look for them then before we were required to be out of our dorm rooms at noon. However, Austin was insistent he was going as was Parker.

I can’t recall what metaphor I used to describe the insane unlikeliness of finding those keys, but I basically told him that it wasn’t happening. Parker decided to make a bet, saying that if he found the keys, then I would have to give up Xbox for the fall semester. Now, I’m the type of person who doesn’t take risks or bet on anything, unless I know I’m right or the odds seem entirely in my favor. This seemed to be the example of the latter, so even though I loved playing zombies on Xbox, I elected to take the bet. Parker was a lucky person that had had some ridiculous things in the past semester go his way, but this seemed like the impossible. So while I was taking a shower and cleaning my shoes, Austin, Matt, Parker, and a couple others went searching for the keys. The deal was Parker had to be the one to find the keys, or it didn’t count. So with the unlikelihood that they did find the keys at 10:30 in the dark, the chances of Parker being the one that found them were still one in six. I was watching YouTube videos when at 11:15, in comes the gang and Parker, with the keychain around his neck. Everyone admitted that he was the one that found them. I’m still trying to figure out how he did it. I could only imagine God waving his finger at me saying, “The possibilities are endless; don’t doubt the impossible”.

So no Xbox for me next semester. And no, we never did get to play zombies that night.

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