The Stress of Accomplishment

May 20, 2010
By , Mesa, AZ
Long ago in an Alaskan forest, there was a small grove where almost all animal life met. It was filled with many widely spaced trees that had a series of streams and large ponds woven into them. This grove was inhabited by a complex society in which the only way for a young animal to gain a respectable place in society was to push themselves to advance through years of rigorous schooling. However, if, at any time an animal were to allow the stress of schooling to overtake them and fail the positioning trials at the end of each year, then he would be condemned to a class in society and an occupation that best matched the level of education he had been able to acquire.

In the grove, there was a young penguin named Maurice who was still climbing up the educational system. He had already seen many of his peers fail their positioning trials and end up stuck in low class positions. That began to scare him.

As Maurice made his way to the wide field that served as a school house he met up with his best friend Cori the gazelle. “So are you nervous for the positioning trials next week?” asked Maurice.

“Yeah, I’m really scared and I feel like I won’t pass.” moaned Cori.

“Me too, but I am almost positive that we will.” Maurice replied. ”Well I have to get to Instructor Bear’s class before I’m late. Bye Cori!”

“Bye Maurice!” she replied.

Instructor Bear was a tall, brown grizzly bear, and taught the origin of bears and the scientific origin of all animals. Maurice had to work extremely hard in his class because of his bad teaching habits and was also required to study excessively to be able to pass his tests. “Instructor Bear--? Is the scientific name for a grizzly bear spelled U-r-s-u-s A-r-c-t-o-s H-o-r-r-i-b-i-l-i-s, or U-r-s-u-s A-r-c-t-o-s H-o-r-i-b-i-l-u-s?” asked Maurice.

“The first one.” replied Instructor Bear. “Make sure you know that name and the name for black bears because they will both be on my next test.”

Maurice waddled away from Instructor Bears desk and went to his next class with Instructor Wolf. Instructor Wolf taught the history of the animal society and was much favored by his students. Maurice loved his class but when he sat down Instructor Wolf Announced some shocking news.”I’m sorry class, but I have just been informed that instead of the positioning trials being next week, they will be held tomorrow. So you better study hard tonight.”

When the announcement had been made the whole class groaned. Maurice was shocked. And through the rest of Instructor Wolf’s class he could not focus on his work because he was so scared. As he walked to his next class he thought,”Oh no. What am I going to do?” The question stuck in his mind all throughout Instructors Giraffe, Tiger, Chihuahua, Fish (Who taught the religious origin of all animals, thus contradicting all of Instructor Bear’s teachings), and Flamingo’s classes.

When Maurice got home from school all of the homework that he had been given had accumulated to the size of a mountain. So he started to work at the pile until he was about half finished. At that moment he began to fall apart. The overwhelming stress of school had gotten to him and he collapsed on his bed in uncontrollable sobbing. Still he knew he had to pull himself together and finish his work so he could study. If he didn’t, he was sure that he would fail the positioning final and would be registered as a fourth class citizen. Maurice did not want to be a fourth class. The only occupation available for fourth classes was pond worker, and the pond workers always smelled moss, mold, and animal droppings.

Instead, Maurice wanted to be a Chief Ambassador, one of the most respected and important occupations an animal could obtain. They were allowed to travel out of the grove to neighboring single-animal societies to try to convince them to join the grove’s multi-animal society. Maurice knew that the only way that he had a chance of achieving this goal was to complete all of schooling and to become a first class citizen. So after thought about his goal he got up and got back to work.

The next day as he walked to the school field he once again met Cori along the way. When he looked her in the eyes he could tell that she stayed up all night to study because they were so blood shot.”Are you ok?” Maurice asked worriedly.

“NO! I feel horrible and I know I’m not going to pass! I just know it!” she screeched.

Her voice seemed to be very hoarse and scratchy when she spoke.”It’s ok Cori you will do fine. Just go to your class and try to stay calm.” said Maurice still showing worry in his tone. He watched his best friend walk away and turned to go to his own class.

When Instructor Bear gave him the first half of the positioning trials Maurice’s heart was pounding. Every time he used his writing utensil his flipper seemed to sweat more. By the time he finished he felt like he did pretty good and waddled to his next testing class. This time the testing instructor was Instructor Tiger, and in her class, Maurice was given the writing half of the positioning trials. Writing was his specialty so he was able to finish quickly with no trouble at all.

One week later the results from the trials were in. Maurice sat next to Cori when Instructor Flamingo passed them out and they decided to open theirs at the same time. Cori was able to open her results first and a grim look came over her face. But when Maurice opened his results and without seeing Cori, excitedly yelled “Yes! Only three more years! Only three years left.”

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