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The Truth About Falling Water This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Water falls. No, I did not say “waterfalls,” as in a river rushing over a cliff. I mean water falls – H20 descending from somewhere due to gravity. The first is a sentence, noun and verb, subject and predicate; the other is simply a noun, yet if read aloud, you can't tell the difference. It all depends on your perspective.

You see, if I read this to you and you simply ­listened, you would have assumed I was talking about waterfalls, the kind people take pictures of. However, I'm sorry to inform you that I'm talking about something completely different. It's your turn to look at something from my point of view, my perspective.

“I'm going for a run,” I tell Dad as I adjust my headphones under my headband. He looks at me incredulously.

“Why on earth would you go right now? Have you looked outside?” He pulls up the blinds in an ­effort to prove his point. The sky is a heavy gray, pouring rain pounds the pavement. “It's miserable out there. Much better to stay inside …,” he trails off, distracted by something on the computer.

“I think it's beautiful,” I whisper as I slip out the door.

My feet pound the ground in an unplanned perfection, keeping time with the music in my head. The rhythm is matched by labored breathing and swinging arms. One, two, three, four, breathe. One, two, three, four, breathe. The repetition and relentless rain clear my mind. Just before the road bends to put my house out of view, I turn back for a last look. Our blinds are closed, along with everybody else's. I shake my head in disgust and trudge onward.

I cannot forget the image of all those closed blinds. People cannot deal with a storm. But I think it's all in how you look at it. Life comes at you full-throttle, there's no way to prevent it, but what you decide to do with it is completely up to you.

Rain falls. People look out their window and call it “nasty.” But do they think about what they are seeing? Precipitation is falling to the ground that has passed through the water cycle for millions of years. This water is sustaining life, and they call it nasty? I see the rain, and I sing praises. The world is being cleansed and renewed. I'd say it's quite commendable, after all, April showers bring May flowers.

When I was in seventh grade, I attempted to play basketball. It was a definite failure, but I tried my best. I sprinted everywhere as hard as I could. One day, after an especially hard practice, every middle school girl in that gym reeked twice as bad as usual. We all stood there, panting, with red faces.

Coach Evanow looked at us and flashed a wicked smile. “Look at all of you! You're drenched in sweat.”

He was interrupted by an exasperated squeal: “I do not sweat; I glisten!”

I looked at the girl who had uttered the ridiculous comment. Her shirt clung to her body, and her hair was plastered to her neck. Either she was sweating, or she'd just taken a shower fully clothed. Basically, she looked gross, but I suppose I didn't have much right to talk. However, I did. “You glisten?” I asked, with my eyebrows raised.

Her eyes shot middle-school drama daggers through me, as if her snotty tone wasn't enough to assure me that she didn't approve. “Yeah, I glisten. Sweating is repulsive and for animals. I'm a woman.” At this, she flipped her ponytail and stuck her nose in the air. I snorted and shook my head.

Sweat falls. People look at it, and call it ­“disgusting.” But do they think about what they are seeing? Perspiration is the result of a body performing homeostasis, which, in itself, is incredible. You don't need an air conditioner, fan, or any other man-made appliance; your body automatically cools itself.

But the reasons people sweat are more notable.
If somebody is drenched, think of how hard they must be working. Maybe it's gross, but it's admirable too. Jesse Jackson once said, “Sweat will get you change.”

To me, sweat is a symbol of courage. It shows that somebody is willing to do all that they can for something. They're not afraid. The world has trained them to see – or maybe smell – what's on the outside, and never look for the deeper meaning or explanation.

When I was in elementary school I cried one time, and twice in middle school. I hated crying or watching other people cry. I considered it a sign of weakness. I was convinced I was stronger than that, that I could control what was inside me, if not what was around me. How naive.

I can't count the number of times I have cried in high school, and I'm only a sophomore. But I am not ashamed. In fact, I'm proud that I can feel. Tears mean something to me. I believe they are simply an overflow of emotion – it doesn't matter which one. Emotion is beautiful and honest and raw.

I can't decide how I felt about the first time I really sobbed. My best friend graduated when I was a freshman. I didn't know what I would do without him, so I just ignored the reality. Suddenly the separation was upon us. It was time for him to move to a new stage of life, and I couldn't be part of it. So, I spent a long time and too much energy avoiding good-bye. I couldn't deal with losing him, but I had to. One evening, with my closest girlfriend standing guard on the bed, I slipped into my closet and dialed a familiar number.

In two minutes, my world fell apart. We both knew that we could never be more than friends, even though we both wanted to be. Instead, I choked on the word good-bye. Good-bye to memories. Good-bye to deep conversations. Good-bye to my best friend. I hung up and curled up in a ball on the floor. It's a good thing Kimberly was there to drag me out, or I might have stayed in that closet forever. Instead, she pulled me out and let me weep.

There are still mascara stains on my pillow as a reminder of that terrible night. Or maybe, they're a reminder of all the incredible memories. I lost somebody I loved, but I loved for a reason. He changed my life and made me who I am. It's not fair to focus on the bad, but I would be a hypocrite if I said I never do. It seems easier to remember what hurts, but there were so many more times we laughed than we cried. Maybe those mascara stains are beautiful. Once again, it all depends on your point of view.

Crying doesn't necessarily mean you are weak. I cry when people I love move on. I cry when people I love get sick. I cry when I am frustrated. I cry when there are no words to express my joy. I cry when I don't blink for a long time. I cry when I laugh really hard. I cry when I hurt, physically or emotionally. I cry, and I admit it.

Tears fall. People watch and call it “weak.” But do they think about what they are seeing? Technically, tears are the product of a process that cleans the eye, but maybe, they also clean the soul. They are a symbol of genuine emotion, something so precious and true that it cannot be judged.

It has been said many times that life is not fair. Life is simply life. You take it as it comes, the way it comes, but it does not control you. Life is what you make it. Water falls. Rain falls. Sweat falls. Tears fall.

Water falls, and we assume that the river rages over the edge of a cliff, but maybe we're wrong. Nothing we know is truly correct or truly our own idea. Circles can be spun from any idea, contradictions weaving a mess of confusion and chaos. There is no way to be certain of anything, except this: water falls and we have no way of stopping it. What matters is what you do with it, your reaction. You have a choice to make, not necessarily a right or wrong choice, simply a choice. Water falls, and it is our job to catch it or, at times, to let it fall.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 4 comments. Post your own!

Avalon,, said...
Jun. 5, 2012 at 7:10 pm:
I first read this in the Teen Ink magazine, and I think reading it a second time online has somehow made it better! AMAZING job! DO you have any tips to give out to a desperate writer?
 
MandaLark This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 6, 2012 at 12:55 am :
Hey! Thank you so much! I actually wrote this as a sophomore. So i don't have much experience. Haha. My advice? Write from the heart. Keep it raw and you. This piece of writing is everything I felt inside me, and I really think writing yourself to the page is key. But what do I know? :) I wish you the best of luck! And if you have any advice for me, I'd love to hear it :) Thanks again!
 
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tshering said...
Jun. 5, 2012 at 3:23 am:
the article is beautiful and a really wonderful creation.it just changed a view of mine that tears are a sign of weakness...thank you
 
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AJBiles This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 15, 2012 at 11:33 am:
This is beautiful
 
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