The World is Quiet Here

March 3, 2010
19th of November 2008 A.D.

Today is – or rather, was – my first day of abstaining from the multifaceted world of technology and spending “20 minutes [being] unplugged from entertainment sources that require a battery or an electrical outlet.” No big deal, I thought when I first heard about this assignment. After all, I don’t use that much technology as other children in my age do. I don’t play video games, I don’t spend time on the computer unless it is for school related issues, and most of all, I don’t listen to an iPod because I don’t even have one! So, amidst the groans and whines of my more hampered classmates (due to the nature of the assignment), I thought to myself, I am good. Until I read the fine print at home: rule #6, which made me very, very haggard. How ever can books be considered technology? The only battery they consumed was the battery of the mind and really, all those “curmudgeons” will not mind if today’s “young’uns” consume a book or two. Thus, the first five minutes of my fast were spent ranting. After I finished my rant and after I quieted down, I just sat...and thought about life in general. Now my life consisted of school and all school related activities. But then my mind gradually drifted to the past, when I lived in Texas and there wasn’t any global warming. Things were much happier then. I went to the library every other day. I still remember the smell of the Las Colinas library. It was not at all like the new car smell, but a smell of fresh hope, fresh potential, if such a thing exists and the fact that I could do anything I wanted to, like be a poet or a philosopher or a famous playwright or an actor and not worry about paying the bills because I was immortal and immortal people don’t have to worry about anything. Then life happened to me. I was told (by whom I could not remember) that I could not be any of these things because they weren’t rigid jobs, they weren’t secure. Alright, said my ever optimistic mind, I will be a gardener so I could beautify the world and fill it with reds, yellows and greens. Of course not, I was told by the same person, you will get your nails dirty. So, said my mind again, immortal people don’t care if their nails are dirty. You are not immortal. In that way, the cheerful attitude that held me in her firm grip in my childhood times slowly weakened throughout the years and was soon replaced by the grim, sadistic face of reality. As I was thinking about this momentous change of events, I noticed things I never noticed before, that a stray cat was meowing quietly and that Mrs. Next-Door’s dog was asleep. Perhaps I was too focused on complaining about the pratfalls of life that I didn’t notice when I had stopped falling on the behind, like the rest of society, which consisted of everyone but me. People nowadays complain so much on issues like global warming or the fact that many teens were dropping out of school, yet doing nothing about it. And yet when somehow those problems were solved then those people, those gadflys would not notice that accomplish but complain about another issue. Don’t misunderstand me, sometimes being a gadfly and calling others’ attention on contentious issues can be a good thing. But it is those complainers, those people who stand around and do nothing but deride the ones that do, they are the ones I detest. Perhaps people should take a break, I thought, and maybe they should…..Ding Ding. Twenty minutes were up and so was today’s fast. Wow. It wasn’t that difficult, even though I thought it would be incredibly hard without books to quench my insatiable quest for knowledge, which somehow survived the ups and downs of my life of fourteen years. Sighing, I went out of my cave, like a despondent hermit failing in his life’s quest, and joined the modern society with all their magnificent achievements. Yes, I confess, life and mine especially is like a candle which burns “at both ends – [it] will not last the night – [but] ah, my foes, and oh, my friends – [it] gives a lovely light.” (Edna Millay)

20th of November 2008 A.D.

Today was my second day of technological fasting. It was much like yesterday’s ranting albeit the difference in topics and the five-minute ranting. Plopping on the bed, I, being a person who does not want to waste her time, was thinking about what I would want to think about today during the fast. Ironic, I know. Anyway, for today’s fast, I decided to think about Shakespeare, narrowing it down to a specific verse from Hamlet which was “This above all: to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” To be yourself and not act superficially….how poignant in this world where cliques abound. I might have written many things about this in my writing career, but this topic is one thing that constantly infuriates me: to act superficially, to be fake, and show your own unique self. This is especially prevalent in high school, not much at Lynbrook, but in those movies that show high school teenagers join a clique that ultimately goes against loved ones and the ideals they value.

To impress others, people generally do or say things that goes against what they believe so they could just get the other person’s “affection.” In fact, people care so much what other people think that many of their actions are based on that criterion. But sometimes that is not wrong. Presidents or any other officials have to think about the public and that’s ok. Affluent people sometimes have to think what they say so as not to make a contentious statement. Sometimes I believe that if I were a very rich person, I would make my own way onto the world and not care about what others think, unless it hurts them greatly. Ironically, the first book I chose for my book project, Atlas Shrugged, influenced the way I thought about this topic and many other topics as well. My thoughts next meandered through the mottled plot of the book and how it affected my personal philosophy. Lots of people my age don’t think about topics like philosophy or engineering or the nature of things, but I believe that any and all knowledge is useful. I truly think of a concept of a Renaissance man. According to the infamous Wikipedia, a Renaissance man or a polymath is person who very knowledgeable. All of the Renaissance man were obviously…men. Not a single women amoung them. For the next one minute, my future ambition consisted of being the first Renaissance woman. Wow! However, Reality punched Hope in the face and gave me a wedgie. Today’s collection of knowledge was so, so complex that it would take many many years to get even a brief understanding of all the major subject areas. That ostensibly led to the topic of prolonging life. What if humans could become immortal, like my childhood dream? What if they could live forever and have infinite potential? Would our lives become so measly and boring because everything is so perfect? Would we all become very depraved since, having achieved anything we wanted to, the most depraved person in the world is one without a purpose? Nay, I told myself, it is far more better for only a small number of people to remain immortal, like the characters in Twilight. It would be enough for me, I thought, to attend all the Ivys, MIT, and Stanford only a few dozen times. At the end of the twenty minutes (Ding Ding!), I was very tired. I never noticed how soft my bed was….but I quickly woke myself up on the fact that I had to write my journal entry for the day which considering from the depth of my thoughts to be about five pages. But I must remain realistic since a “pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; and the realist adjusts the sails.” (William Ward).

21st of November, 2008 A.D.

Today is my third day of technological fasting. Time passes by so fast; first semester is already here and me more the wiser. That’s the same with debate. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, I, being the quiet mild mannered person I am, am in Lynbrook Speech and Debate, the supposedly largest club on campus. To many, to debate means to have just another silver lining on their collage applications. However, to me, debating is an art in its own way. I long to be a public speaker so when I stop talking, thousands of people will stand up and clap and clap and clap and be motivated to do something with their lives. However, because I did not have time with my schedule what with fencing and all that, I foolishly signed up for only debate, not speech and debate. As I said before, debating is an art. Even though, I thought, I had miserably failed in my first tournament(3-1), debateing LD had a sort of charm, a sort of eloquence, a sort of aspect that gave me more adrenaline than running a mile. Weird, I know. That got me thinking to the first tournament I went to, last Saturday. I was wearing a suit and underneath that, a gown that doubled as a skirt, although many girls wore pants. I still remember our first novice tournament (at Milpitas High) together: me, and nine other people and how we had a Lynbrook hub below some trees. Some of us were ranting against our opponents and judges, others were giving pep talks, while still others were working on cases, flows, and new arguments. We were one big happy family, no matter what the outcome of the debates were. Now that the nostalgia of going to our first debate tournament is gone, I ponder on how our attitudes will be on our second tournament, next next Friday. Will we be still one close-knit group in the midst of opponent schools? Will we continue to debate, despite our many disappointments? Will we all attend the same college? Okay, I think I am getting too far ahead of myself. I think this tournament was one of the best things that happened to me in this 9th grade year. That adrenaline, that quest for beautiful eloquence in all that you do, that moment at Milpitas where the leaves were falling gently, and our papers flew away, and everyone, even people from rival schools helped us retrieve them and when we were talking to other students from schools like Bellarmine, Monta Vista, and Presentation whom we saw faced the same challenges as us. How friendly everyone was! No mean grouch amoungst them! How hard it is to describe the camaraderie that we felt as we ate together and talked together amongst ourselves and with other schools. America, I thought to myself, from my solitary perch on my counterpane, this is the next generation, the best and the brightest . The people who will annihilate global warming, eradicate the parasites of our parent’s generation, thwart the system of social evils and above all build a world of common sense. It is said that the year 2012 will be the end of the world, inscribed on hallowed tablets by wizened Mayan astronomers. Whether that signifies an asteroid impact or an invasion by aliens from Saturn I cannot tell. But I do know that the interpretation of this prediction is drastically disparaged by today’s society. For 2012 is when we freshman graduate and that would be the end of the world as we know it. However, for now, as I was thinking about this for both my fast and my tournament, we were students, thinking about what we had to do in the immediate future, that is, to debate with such passion that no one living or to be born could do any better. Debating is an art and for every art, there must be artists to fill it with youthful joy and exultation that the world we be talking about us, about me, the future Go-Getters, those who value common sense and above all, were once freshmen in a vapid world.

22nd of November, 2008 A.D.

Today is my fourth day of technological fasting and today I thought about what I like, specifically those things when I have no adequate reasons to like them, but I just do because sometimes you don’t need a reason for liking something, only the fact that you do. I like overcast days. I like to sit lay on the grass, with a cup of coffee, some books, and a quill and ink and look at the overcast sky overhead and write and write and write the old-fashioned way. I like to go to England because fifty percent of the year, the day is overcast with clouds with occasional tinges of rain and spider webs of snow. I like to read maps of the United Kingdom and France and taste the words on my foreign tongue. In fact, I like to live at England or France or Scotland or Ireland and have friends, true friends, who’d wear nice warm clothes at winter and have snowball fights with me. We would have so much fun. I would like to meet royalty, actual royalty, and observe them and stay a night at their houses . I would like to buy a mansion, a jovial mansion in a place where it is always overcast and raining and I could have a big garden and see the rain tamping gently on them. I would like to sit at cafés and observe everything and concoct a wonderful story. I would drink hot coffee there in the cold weather and be glad I am a human. I would like to go to a boarding school and try my hand at an accent. I would like to not be obsessed about anything. I like to lucid dream and be anything I want and be happy all the time. I like to command my environment and go everywhere by myself. I like to ride a bike and feel the wind not through my hair, but hear it through the trees. I like alternate universes and like to believe in them. Imagine! Harry Potter, Twilight in one world, coinciding with each other. I like fanfiction. I would like to grow my hair and make it wavy. I like to be tall or better yet, be the right size. I like cottages. I like to go to Oxford and wander through its sacrosanct halls. I like Clarisse. I like to sing and dance. I like potential more than achievement. I like plays with lots of drama. I like Shakespeare too, especially when he uses big words that nobody really understands but they use them anyway because they sound so beautiful. All of these things that I love reminded me of how fragile the world is and how one catastrophe can wipe them all out. I think that nowadays people don’t take themselves seriously as much as the people of yestercentury. Some people treat their body as they do to a rotten carcass. Kick it and throw it aside. I mean, long time ago, people thought that not taking baths is good because it led to the prevention of disease. Of course, that led to many, many plaques and overall misery, but it is the intent that counts, not the actual action. Today, not many people think about intent, about why something is happening instead of how. Take, for example, that disgusting deviant Hurricane Katrina. She nearly sunk a major American city of fun and festivity. Why? “Weak breeches,” a newspaper cried! I am just appalled that with all the technology that we have, we still have not managed to nullify natural events like hurricanes and tornados. In fact, sometimes I am mad at humankind for all its…boorishness but I know that I am one of them too. Yes, that is my life, summed up in two words, “Contradictory Peace”, like the way today’s fast felt. Extremely contradictory (I mean, what I like, and what I totally detest!), but satisfying all the same.

23rd of November 2008 A.D.

Today is my last day of technological fasting. The last few days were like the rest of my life, a tedious never changing sea, except for the fact that in the midst of the sea, there was an island filled with the fauna and flora of thinking and rest. No technology without twenty minutes seems like a good thing to do everyday. There is time to collect your thoughts and be still in an unstill world. This brief respite from the…pratfalls of everyday life is like an oasis in the desert, a lighthouse on a stormy night, a sweet cottage beckoning to warm rest and food. Sometimes I think that people are becoming so busy that they don’t have any time for themselves all. They don’t have the time to spend 20 minutes… 1/36th of a 12 hour day to contemplate and discover things about the world they could not have possibly have known. Our society is dangerously becoming closer to the society Bradbury depicts in his novel Fahrenheit 451. We are becoming too materialistic, too selfish, too squandering of the earth’s resources. Yet there are some of us who have the potential to change all that. Like the Mission High kids I talked with in my debate tournament. They have so many ideas about how to change the world and they seem effective too. Personally, I think there is a spark in all of us, a Clarisse spark, I call it, to change the world and the social system as we know it so that we can finally, finally have time to gaze at the stars and read books and write poems or be an artist, or a playwright or a philosopher or a gardener or anything else we want to be, things that I wanted to be when I was young…things that I want to be now…So to add some closing thoughts and since it is going to be Thanksgiving soon, here is my Thanksgiving gift to you, Ms.G: the gratefulness of a lonely child for giving her this assignment. Thank you for giving me a 20 minutes brief respite from the world. Thank you for giving me an excuse to reevaluate my own life and see what I was incapable of seeing . Most of all, thank you for giving me time to think, the only weapon we can effectively bolster to fight against the plagues of this modern world. Sadly to say, I might revert to my old habits after this. I might watch TV a little bit, look forward to listen to music, watch some videos and normal stuff like that…but I would never, ever forget one week in my life where for a quick 20 minutes, sitting on my bed, I had the ability to finally say to myself… “The world is quiet here.”

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

sc0ttysk3latal said...
Apr. 1, 2010 at 10:06 pm
Very well written, with great vocabulary and style. The elevated language helps cancel out the seemingly mundane subject matter. Great job. And is the title and picture a reference to the Series of Unfortunate Events?
Petrichor1994 replied...
Apr. 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm
Great catch. Although I intended the title and the quote from A Series of Unfortunete Events from Lemony Snicket, the eye picture was totally random on my part. Hmm...was my subconscious trying to tell me something? That is a story for another day....
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