A Gleaming Window into New Worlds

As the slithering seasons come and go,

As the ceaseless tides ebb and flow,

Time marches on with blatant disregard

To human history and its heavenly bard.

Literature is a gleaming window;

Love, satire, gallant deeds, what a show!

Black symbols, merely ink on a blank page,

Scrawled down by many, an undying sage

Enthrall generations of humanity

With no more than subtle allegory.

I wrote this poem as our second term at Mass Academy neared an end, very much surprised at how fast time seemed to fly as we struggled together. 

My goal then was to compose a sonnet in the Shakespearean style, however, it proved to be quite difficult. I maintained the verse structure of the two quatrains and the rhyming couplet, but I did not use iambic pentameter or the abab cdcd efef gg rhyme scheme. I morphed in the style of the Petrarchan sonnet, but again took many liberties to ease the creative process and simplify the style. For example, this sonnet is not about unrequited love nor does it introduce a problem and end with a solution.

Literature is extremely important because it is, as I mentioned in the above sonnet, “a gleaming window.” I very intentionally chose the word gleaming because of its meaning with regard to a shiny, reflective, quality. We tend to embed ourselves in the stories that we hear. Literature opens a new world in our imaginations; worlds in which we can be heroes or villains. Stories bring back our childhood. We need that.

Finding Meaning in Education

We often don’t recognize, and thus don’t appreciate, the extent of our prosperity in the United States. We take for granted the liberties and privileges that are associated with being in a prosperous nation. However, our forgetfulness does not absolve us the responsibilities of providing a relevant education to the next generation.

When we think of education in the traditional sense, it often involves learning about science, math, social studies, and literature. However, education, in it’s fullest form includes much more. Being “educated” isn’t about having multiple college degrees, or having a wealth of knowledge. Rather it is about having a wealth of experiences that enrich our souls and provide us a sense of understanding and compassion for humanity. This type of education is far more challenging to come by, especially in the U.S.

The American education system has begun to resemble an assembly line. Teachers work quickly to include materials deemed important. Standardized tests are a form of quality control. “In the past decade, the line has been sped up, the workers are asked to add more bells and whistles, and the raw material at the beginning of the line have decreased in quality” (Alan Rosenberg). This system is ineffective and defunct. Modern society demands a passion in building a brighter future with the tools we have. Innovation is not an esoteric art; rather, it’s the simple cooperation of sapience, ingenuity, and imagination.

The term sapience has extreme significance. It represents the philosophy of ideal knowledge and intelligence. And in fact there are three steps in the hierarchy of understanding: first, there are the facts. When we have simple understanding of facts, such as the population of the United States, they have knowledge. But is that really true comprehension? No, it is nothing but memorization. Children consider themselves “smart” when one student can recite many unrelated or random facts, or maybe knows the definition of some complex term. The next step is the ability to connect those facts together to begin gaining more knowledge. This is called intelligence, and it is what we do in high school. This stage is the compounding stage, where more background information allows more understanding. Part of the satisfaction of learning is in noticing the connections between seemingly unrelated aspects.

While being able to relate facts together and having a deeper understanding of the world is important, the final step is the application of knowledge and intelligence to our lives — to improve the lives of others and to create a lasting legacy. This is called Sapience. Sapience is touching the lives around us in many different ways as a granger does to the landscape.

At this stage, I surmise that one can truly be called “educated.”

What is Joy Worth Without Adversity?

Joy is a fleeting emotion. It is the small bubbles bursting at the surface of a boiling cauldron of the sticky soup of pain, of adversity, and of hard work. But without the thick, gurgling broth that the bubbles slowly rise through, joy would be worth absolutely nothing. The difficulty of the journey is what gives true value to every bit of happiness that we relish. At the very end, when we are able to look back and reflect on the progress of our lives, I think that we all hope, whether or not we are considered successful by others or consider ourselves successful, that we can be in peace knowing that every living moment was used to squeeze out hard work and passion. The utmost judgement of life is that we pushed ourselves to our limits and that we worked to our fullest potential.

It is the ephemeral element that, I think, adds value to our lives. The fact that everything is in constant flux allows our limited time to become our most valued asset.

Change is an essential component of nature. Without it, the entire earth would be a homogenous lump floating through the empty void of space, as it is from the ever changing sea of brine that life was born. Without change, the human race would not have evolved and progressed as it did throughout the ages. Revolution after revolution, we things get better and better as we realize the flaw in our old selves. This cycle repeats until the end of time and the Day of Judgement is upon us. All of us have a small desire to impart change in the world; to craft our wondrous legacy and build a better and more harmonious world. However, few get around to actually doing anything. The rest of us wander aimlessly among the large masses, living content and complacently, engulfed by popular society. From watching adults while growing up, they seem to despise change. Wanting to keep the old habits and customs alive so that no effort is needed to go through the world. Their energy is exhausted and their souls depleted. The energy from the soul is what powers human ingenuity and creativity. The passion for curiosity comes not from any external sources, but purely from the search of new ways to express the raw and unkempt emotion that resides within each and every human in existence. Though we do not know what is beyond death, we do know that life is ephemeral and fleeting. As a result, it benefits no one to keep the soul within its indefinite prison; let it escape, let it go free and float away, drifting away on the soft breeze. Why not?

Water

Salty froth ebbs away with the tide
As the water seethes about the jagged rocks.
The sun dims, succumbing to a graceful swoon.
Without a noise, a gentle breeze slowly creeps in
To quiet the insolent water and sooth the hot sand.

Language and the Human Soul

Human beings are bizarre creatures, not only in terms of evolution as in Sapiens, but also in terms of our societal structures and unique linguistic creations. Of all the beasts on Earth, only human beings are capable of sophisticated and abstract language. Yet, of all these beasts, only humans struggle to convey heartfelt messages. We stand silent and reserved when near a person we admire, while inside we are screaming. We are afraid to speak when it really matters, when whatever we say can really change our lives. However, we blabber on incessantly when saying a simple word or two would suffice. Language is one of our greatest creations, nevertheless, it has complicated our discourse to point of maelstrom, to a point where a simple message becomes turbid with convoluted implications. The fear of being spurned hinders our ability to express our hearts’ most profound desires. It is that fear that must be dissolved in order to further our lives most precious aspirations. However, I do not doubt the power of words and the freedom they bring to human cognition. Their cogency does not come from the speaker, but from the listener. The power of words is a direct result of their ability to make the listener indulge in the contemplation of their meaning.

But words are things, and a small drop of ink

Falling, like dew, upon a thought, produces

That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.

Lord Byron

Dossier

“Sapiens,” by Yuval Noah Harari, 2014. This book goes through the history of humankind based on the premise that humans’ ability for fictive language and effective group communication is our only fundamental advantage.

Floating Away

A small boat adrift somewhere in the seven seas,
Lost among the sugary stars and slithering waves.
The night pierces my heart like a black dagger,
Alone with naught to break the inky silence.