Sans a Boat

September 9, 2008
By mary scott hardaway, Hayes, VA

She did not want it to be “okay”- she wanted it be wonderful. A few words to clarify the round: want- to desire something more than anything else in the world; electrifying- to send electrical currents through one’s body- to tremble with ineffable pride; champion- made or created, an untouchable plateau of greatness. She wanted the electrifying feeling of becoming a champion.
            First of all, she loved, accidentally and without condition. She loved every broken wing of every fallen bird-every sad person, oblivious to her uncontrolled outpouring. It was effortless, the love, and complete in every sense. She attempted to love others; she created the most romantic images from stark effigies. Her eyes sought what her heart ignored. And all the time she wanted.
            [The sin of pride]- There was never a human more susceptible to the sin of pride. 
Value: Success. People must blow their own trumpets, write their own scripts. If one is to be successful, common themes such as utilitarianism, equality, and the fallacious theory of “justice” must be dropped.  I urge you to vote for the value of success. Success dictates the welfare of individuals and society as a whole. 
            She wanted them to look at her. All of them; to gaze at her fine form, to fantasize about her pleasant company and clever chatter. Sometimes they did, sometimes they did not. She became attached to the gazers, loathed the oblivious, the obviously unworthy. But worthy enough to mock her. She only wished she were better, so that all would be mesmerized, all would be obsessed.
            The vice of virtue. Moral excellence will let you down. Every time- there are no loopholes. None. She knew this, and yet she had no idea. She did not know how to be good and to be right. To have fun and to be correct. Did everyone fall into depravity? Would anyone ever care?
            Criterion: To ignore the “virtues” of a fellow race in order to attain success. She may drown in pity or cry for days but morality would still be doomed. Don’t dwell-this spells defeat. She forged sideways, avoiding all questions of humanity.
            Only five people would stand in the way. Only five people barricading the path to elation. They were intelligent, cunning, perfunctory orators.  Start-finish. Where was the brain, the heart? The uninhibited volition of a young and desperate girl-this would win her the round.
            Reasoning is formulated in the heart, although “ the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” She thought she knew herself, at times volatile, always veracious. She knew her case better.
            Contentions. Contention 1: Ignorance is fatal. One must be knowledgeable, if not intelligent. Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is but the stepping stone, linking an infantile project to a fantastic journey. The journey of development. To be successful, one must be fully developed. Take the butterfly, for instance. A butterfly only serves a purpose in its final stage- an aesthetically pleasing winged creature. My opponent may urge that ignorance is bliss. Ignorance is apathy-laziness! Are the unemployed blissful? Are the naïve who venture into the dark and never return happier because of their lack of knowledge? Ignorance is never bliss.
            She wasn’t afraid to be extreme. She looked the straw man in the face- and blew him away. She would win because of her ethics, her arguments; her finely honed tactics. Fallacies did not frighten her. Death frightened her, being alone frightened her, failure frightened her. Fallacies were the wooden guns of her sport. Mere dummies.
            She watched for change. Change would cripple her and subsequently her chances for success. She would quarantine change, never let it touch her. People don’t like to remain static-they want new, invigorating. She feared the possibilities of being dynamic, the endless possibilities. Her mind refused to fathom such things. So the daring left, and the curious left, and the bored left. She remained, not quite content, but safe. No one would ever be successful in a grave.
            Contention 2: Lies will set you free. Ostensibly, the truth is valued in all societies. Apparently what is valued and what is practiced are two entirely different things. People don’t want to tell the truth. The truth is so rare these days that one may seek it, just to feel that terrifying jolt. “I don’t matter, you don’t matter.” No one wants to hear this, but they have to. They must know deep down what the convictions and ideas are of another human. Lying will never cease, it is too simple, too fun, too amusing. Everyone wants to procure that modicum of information that no one else has, wants to dangle it silently in front of unsuspecting faces. Lies will set you ahead of those still wallowing in the truth.
            She took everything too seriously. She clung to every event, person, thought in her life.  Everyone else surged through the rapids and waterfalls, never looking back- she hadn’t even rented a boat. Did she know that this would be her downfall? Possibly- she was a very bright girl. But for this time, this moment, she clung only to her work. She was her case, a translucent mirror image. No one would decipher a difference, and she didn’t want them to.
            Contention 3: Ignore the competition. No one sane is clairvoyant- it takes more than intuition to discern a solution. Sweat. Every day, for at least five minutes. Sweat over physical exertion, extensive research, something that matters. Shun the grappling vines of doubt or you will fumble. Draw from your own desire for success and perfection, or failure is ineluctable.
            I again urge you to note the relevance of my contentions in relation to my core value and value-criterion.  The contemplative rests.
            Her intentions were ever so clear- to become a champion, the champion.
            The prospect of adhering to one cut and dry resolution seemed more than daunting. The intrepid turned on their heels, the cowards balked in the corner. She’d done it! Her case was perfect- simple, smart, a winner. She need only convince a few men and women, topple some boys and girls then claim the goblet as her own.
            -If only others would look, feel, act as she did. She tried to read people, to understand and appreciate their seemingly capricious motives. Strangers to the conscience, they appeared catatonic.  She had to know their thoughts- would she question them, value them, loathe them? Would no one confess? She became lost within herself as giggling strangers spun around her, around and around and around.-
            She wasn’t nervous- she was an almost-champion! Her opponents were nervous. She knew they were. She would rein them in, control them for a good 30 minutes, and then banish them forever into eternity! Do not fear what you dearth, take comfort in what you know. She knew her case, she was her case; she was ready.
            It worked flawlessly. Her opponents could not even touch her contentions- she’d conquered the moral high ground.  Indecision dropped the value and value-criterion ultimately submitting to his own defeat. Fear and Doubt faltered tremendously when attacking Contention 3- they were too paranoid to even grasp the concept. Naïveté commenced sobbing after learning of her own ignorance, forfeiting before she became too cynical. Trivial Worries was her most formidable opponent- especially in cross examination. He brutally attacked each of her contentions and questioned the validity of her value. Unfortunately he was not prepared for her surefire explanations and was forced to capitulate under the pressure.
            Unlike all of her opponents, she believed her case, and she wanted to believe it, more than anything else in the world.  More than attaining success, more than experiencing that electrifying rush. She wanted to be right and she wanted her opponents to be wrong. She had finally cornered each of them, convinced the judges that they were merely illusions, not what is, but what could be.
            Success, victory, champion. She could never fail again, once a champion, always a champion. Once pensive, always pensive. Once serious, always serious. And her arguments would never cease, down the river, over a waterfall, sans a boat, barely afloat.

The author's comments:
My daily mental instability inspired this piece! But really,I am just a normal teenager, a normal teenager with a few too many rambling thoughts.I hope readers will be able to relate to this form of adolescent angst. I set up my piece like a debate because I feel like I am truly battling my thoughts. I won the battle, but the outcome of the war is yet to be decided.

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