We are an environmentally concerned group of seniors from Animas high school (a small charter school in Durango that focuses on project-based learning and community connection). The senior curriculum is based around the idea and principle of justice, encompassing environmental, social, political, and racial justice within today's society. As a class, we spend a few months learning about different philosophies of justice, and how they appear in our society today. We write two monologue speeches thought this project on our perspectives of justice. We also, hold a sumit to determine the most just way to manage current dilemmas. This year we talked about land designations around bears ears. Once students have gained a strong understanding of these different justice philosophies, they break into groups to create a project of their own. This project seeks to bring about awareness and change concerning one of these philosophies. Our group is composed of students who are deeply concerned about environmental justice and climate change. We desire to create something beneficial for the community, that will help bring awareness to the detrimental effects of wildfires on recreational land, and in turn, lowering air quality.
Project defence and reflection
What did you end up doing for your project?
I was a part of the environmental justice group. We decided that we wanted to raise money to plant trees to help reforestation after the high levels of forest fires colorado has been experiencing in recent years. We also wanted to protect our air quality by planting trees. We made a mural to help raise funds to buy the trees, created a GoFundMe to collect donations, and a website to display our research. We will donate any funds that we don’t need for planting trees to Conservation Colorado and NRDS(environmental conservation charities). Originally I was supposed to be in charge of the go fund me but I ended up working on the GoFundMe and being one of two people who painted the 60square foot mural. I got our mural into the Beads and Beyond Christmas window display and I helped create our GoFundMe page. I also advertised our Campaign.
How did your project reflect your personal philosophy of justice?
I have always liked the idea of restorative justice (fixing an injustice through restorative measures instead of punishment). This philosophy doesn’t only apply to criminal justice. In my project, I applied restorative justice to our environment. Humanity plays a huge role in producing air pollution. We also cause wildfires that wouldn’t naturally happen which destroys forests, human and natural habitat, and also contributes to declining air quality. By planting trees we help restore some of the damage done. Also, in donating to other environmental groups, we are promoting the idea of supporting issues you believe in (in our case clean air, and saving the forest) which aligns with the moral ideals of civil disobedience. Our project is a just way to address this issue because our message does not criminalize anyone and purely seeks to help remedy the already existing problems. In raising funds to plant trees we are not hurting anyone and we are making tangible change. The best act of justice is one that does not harm, it is one the entire world can rise behind.
Did you do sufficient research and background work to pull off your project? Did you succeed in your endeavors? Explain!
I think that considering the time constraints we had that we did do enough research but had we had one more week we could have been even more detailed in our research. We did enough research to answer all the basic questions that could be asked, but there are still a lot of potential questions unanswered too. For example, How EXACTLY have wildfires impacted air quality and how will those effects change over time? The difficulty for me is that our group was unable to meet which meant that all to work took much longer. This left less time for in-depth research. I do think that our project was very effective and well-edited despite the challenges. Defense:
In what ways were you successful in meeting the goals you established in your project proposal? What contributed to your successes?
Although our project will not be entirely complete until we plant out trees next spring I think our project was extremely successful. So far we are on time and on track to plant trees! We painted our mural and got it up at Beads and Beyond. We got our GoFundMe up, running, and refined. We have raised $400 so far. Additionally, we made a website which was a nice extra detail. I think we have been so successful because the individuals in our group were all willing to put in the work and work together. We met consistently as a group which really helped communication. Environmental justice is something we are all passionate about so, the work was easy and worth it.
In what way were you unsuccessful in meeting the goals you established in your proposal? What contributed to your failures? What did you do to try to overcome the obstacles? What should you have done differently?
We ran into a challenge when the people in our group who were originally assigned to do the painting of the mural buth had to quarantine. This posed the issue of who would paint it now and what would they do now that they couldnt. We overcame this obstacle by rearranging tasks and finding another avenue of publication to explore (website).
To what extent did you SHOW UP for this project? How engaged/committed/involved were you in the work? How much did you strive to create beautiful work worth doing? To what extent were you accountable to yourself and others if relevant?
Because we had to socially distance, every member of the group had to be very accountable in order to meet our deadlines. We did meet our deadlines so it all worked out. I think I definitely showed up for this project especially because I ended up painting the mural (which I was happy to do) and doing the tasks I was originally assigned.
What TWO key lessons did you learn from this project that you can apply to the senior project?
This project was definitely a good reminder of how to effectively manage time in order to meet deadlines. This project reinforced the importance of background research in order to create a well-informed product.
Environmental Justice and the Fashion Industry Justice Monologue #2
Transcript: What is the most just way to balance economic needs and environmental health? Look at the clothes you are wearing. Did they come from a fast-fashion store like HandM or Hollister? Some of mine did. I bought them before I knew that, “25 billion pounds of textiles are generated in the United States [each] year”. When I bought them I didn’t know that “every year the average American throughs away roughly 70 pounds of textile waste” and of those 70 pounds each American produces only 15% is recycled or reused. In the year 2017 Landfills received 11.2 million tons of textile Municipal Solid Waste. That year, textiles represented 8 percent of all MSW in landfills. Having learned that I think we can agree that the textile industries particularly the fashion industry Is way too wistful. Terry Tempest Williams sais, “There is only our love and grief to hold us in the terror of all we are seeing, sensing, denying. We can’t touch the source of our despair because we can’t touch each other.” not only does this statement apply to the wildfire crisis we are experiencing at the moment it also applies to this silent crisis hiding behind convenience and corporation interest. We all like to show style through clothes. Clothes allow us to fit in or stand out. They help us make a statement, they protect us from the sun the cold the rain, and in some cases being arrested for violating Public indecency laws. As a species, we love to decorate ourselves and our homes with fabric but we deny or don’t see the harm it is doing to the environment. And when we learn the facts about how detrimental the textile industry is what can we do on a large scale? We can’t touch the source of the problem because we have caused it and in doing so we have set ourselves in a spiral. Sustainable clothes are expensive which means they are inaccessible to low-income people forcing them to shop fast fashion. It is accessible, affordable, and convenient. Living in a convenience-based society it is hard to resist, everyone wants to stay on-trend. Big companies supply and profit greatly from the trendy mas produced poor quality clothing that two years later will contribute to the 11.2 million tons of textile waste in landfills. As stated by Delegates to the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, “Environmental Justice opposes the destructive operations of multinational corporations.” this means that the fast fashion industry directly opposes environmental justice. Luckily there is already a solution to this problem. All we have to do is buy second-hand textiles. The higher the demand for second-hand textiles the lower the demand for fast fashion the less profitable fast fashion will b the less waste will be produced. Secon7d-hand shopping is accessible affordable and environmentally friendly!
What is Your Philosophy of Justice? Justice Monologue #1
What is justice? Fake Justice is real in the same way that money or time are real. Only if enough people believe in them do they exist? The problem with that is everyone believes in different things! Take Kant for example, he made up deontology just to oppose utilitarianism. Seems kind of petty to me, but who am I to judge, not an old ass white guy. This brings me to my next point. Most theories of justice: philosophical, legal, and moral, were MADE UP!!! By old white guys, no offense Dalai Lama (I respect your Asian representation). Zinn states that “the constitution was a paper written by rich white guys in order to gain political equality but not economic equality”. The principal that he presents in this, that equality is written to suit the writers, holds true throughout history and many situations. The film we watched, True justice, is a prime example. Black men are disproportionately and inaccurately incarcerated and executed because the judges, juries, lawyers, and law writers of their cases are all white. 1 in 10 black people on death row are wrongly accused. The question is, is justice really justice if it doesn’t suit everyone. Does it even matter? The fact of the matter is that whether you believe that your actions should be dictated by duty, or that societal actions should be based on what will suit the greatest number of people, or even that civil disobedience is the way to true justice like Zinn suggests, It doesn’t matter because not enough people will agree with you to turn theory to reality. Justice is much more interesting as a philosophy than as a factor of reality. Old white guys can spend lifetimes thinking up rules and morals of justice but it’s not going to make everyone be born with the same natural opportunities and its not going to stop people from feeling wronged. Breonna Taylor, the black woman legally shot in her home during a raid for example. In conclusion, justice is just a figment of society's cumulitave imagination. Everyone should follow their own moral compass and abide by the laws that they cant get away with breaking.
“Eating is an Agricultural Act?” The Ethics of Food and Eating
During this project we learned about the industry of agriculture. We started by reading The Omnivore's Dilemma which outlines various aspects of the food system including the industrial organic system, the industrial non organic system and localized agriculture. This project was interdisciplinary. Alongside learning about the industry of food in humanities we learned about the chemistry of food in chemistry. The interdisciplinary nature of his project allowed a deeper understanding and connection to the topic. It was cool to learn about food on a large scale very academically and use that knowledge hands on in chemistry to cook. Now when I think about food I am far more aware of its origin! Also, I try to be involved in gardening with my family more now.
Personal essay- Food as Connection
The first thing I learned to cook was pancakes. I love pancakes. I love knowing that because I can make pancakes I can feed myself and others. Pancakes are food that nourishes the soul because when you eat pancakes it means that someone is taking care of you. This applies to a lot of foods, like turkey. Turkey is holiday food, a food over which gratitude and love are shared, A food over witch conflicts are put aside in the interest of full bellies and peace. My absolute favorite food memory occurred on August 17th of last year. Friendsgiving, I made so much food the leftovers lasted for a week and a half (which is always nice). All of the people I love gathered to eat homemade food, to fortify friendship, and to connect as a chosen family before school started. There is something so special about being able to take care of the people that care about you. Food allows you to create an environment of complete safety, support, and comfort; what better honor is there than that? When it comes to food my modo is very similar to that which I follow in life, do the best you can with what you’ve got in order to create the optimal outcome. Not everyone can afford a farm-raised organic turkey and gluten-free flour. This is an unfortunate truth and a sign of a broken greedy system so, sometimes in order to achieve the fullest potential of food you’ve got to opt for the industrial turkey. My food morals compass points less towards the origin of food and more towards food’s power for healing and connection. It is my personal belief that the fresher the food the more meaning it has the potential for. This belief stems from having been a part of a garden since I was 8 weeks old. I can remove being teeny tiny and picking tomatoes the size of my face off the vine and eating them fresh. Being in a garden since I was little instilled in me a great appreciation of soil and with it a sense of responsibility to keep it healthy. I value the importance of crop rotation and sustainable fertilizers and integrated pest management in food production. I love the work that goes into a fresh salad. I like knowing that the meat I’m eating had a good life. I like believing that the food on my plate didn’t hurt the environment to get to me. Not everyone has access to fresh food that I have been blessed with. You’ve got to do the best you can with what you have got. Participate in the local economy by shopping at farmers’ markets or join a community-sponsored CSA (community sponsored agriculture. Grow a garden in mason jars on your windowsill. By obtaining food locally through food deserts will start to decrease and local economies will thrive. To me, food is more than just industrial numbers and mass nutrition. Food is a form of connection. There are few better feelings than being taken care of with food or feeding someone. Food gives you the energy to play, it comforts you, it nourishes your brain and body so you can grow. Everyone needs food. In my ideal world, everyone would only eat organic small scale fruits and vegetables and farm-raised grass-fed meats but this world isn’t perfect. All you can do is your best. Grow a garden. Plant some basil. Eat organic when you can. I believe that if everyone puts a little effort into eating every so slightly more locally/ethically/organically we can start to fix the broken machine that is our food system and make it more accessible to more people.
Philosophy - Your Life on Earth
This project was about philosophy, we learned about Aristotelian philosophy, transcendentalism, existentialism, but I have to admit, I don't agree with any of them exactly. While each philosophy has strong points, I think life is simpler and more individual than these large scale beliefs. The painting above is a turkey vulture perched in the cycle of life. The painting represents balance and finding beauty in discomfort. I have found recently that the turkey vulture is the greatest metaphor for my philosophical aspirations in life. On the first investigation of the turkey vulture it is a disgusting, disease-ridden, bald thing, undesirable when you see it fly though it is the most majestic elegant effortless creature and in this way it is the perfect symbol of balance. Turkey vultures fly purposefully even in the strongest winds showing grit and persistence. They pray in packs and eat as communities. Turkey vultures are a vital cycle of life like the modern-day phoenix they transform death into energy. This painting sums up my phylosophy well but does not include everything.
Personal Philosophy Statement
I don't know why we all exist and honestly it doesn't concern me all that much at the moment. We do exist and I think the best thing we can do with that knowledge is be happy, find meaning, and keep learning. Meaning and happiness are funny things because they are both individual and intertwined with everyone else. To me connection is the greatest source of both meaning and happiness. Connection with nature, connection with a cause, connection with another individual, these things let me know that I am not alone. They make me feel that there is purpose to existence that the entire universe is not just chaos. And feeling connected often brings me joy because It makes me feel love. Connection means Helping others, it means uniting in the face of a problem and being a part of a solution. Connection is external and internal; it is important not to lose connection with yourself. Do things that bring you joy, eat good food, laugh, sleep, expose yourself to challenges, BE CREATIVE! It is important not to become stagnant. Always keep learning! Try new things, travel new places, push yourself to exceed your comforts and limits.
Rhetoric and Ideology
Academic Identity in a Meritocracy speech script
Introduction Standardized testing, is not good for anyone but it's disproportionately bad for low and average performing students. As soon as kids are put into the institution of education they are tested to find out if they are smart. If you are a kindergartener and you can’t read the word would or does you are labeled as under average. If you are a kindergartener and you can add 17 and 6 you are “advanced”. The labels put on people as young kids start an academic path that follows students throughout their educations and sparks the development of individual academic identity. Real quick FYI when I say academic identity I am referring to the way an individual views themself as a learner. In very simple terms, if a person believes they are good at school or bad at school. My Experience When I was in kindergarten I very distinctly remember taking the DIBEL reading and fluency test. In this test, you are given one minute to read as many words as you can. Just a little background on me, I am not good at reading, I read about as fast as a snail moves so, as you can imagine I never did very well on these tests. I remember taking spelling tests and utterly and completely failing. Because of that, I had sessions with the reading specialist, at one point a teacher even had me get my eyes tested because I was so bad at reading, and I was put into stupid kid reading and writing groups. Now you may be thinking, “Lindsay, that language, it’s so crude and you just announced to a room full of people that you are stupid.” let me explain. My choice in using the words “stupid” is not a diss I definitely don’t believe I am stupid it is, in fact, intentional and multi-purposeful. First, I use this to explain to you how I felt as a little kid, singled out from the rest of my class, bad at reading and writing, not smart enough to be treated normally, angry at myself because I wasn’t smart enough or like the other kids. Second, I used the word stupid because it embodies one of two basic academic identity categories, the, I’m good at school “smart kid” and the, I suck at school “stupid kid”. Being Good at School Being “good” at school takes a combination of two things, a natural academic inclination, and motivation. I think we can all agree that these are good things but, the result of being a high performing student can come with some negative implications. A high test score can box a student into an academic track that leads in a direction that isn’t right for that individual. Regardless of someone’s inherent talent in one area, that person should have the opportunity to nurture and explore every aspect of their personality. While high test scores undeniably look good on college applications they can also create a standard for an individual that is lofty and simply stressful to maintain. Every student is unique just like a fingerprint and while some students thrive under the pressure of rigor others need a lighter approach to education. A desirable test score, when used to define a student’s entire academic identity, is detrimental in that it does not allow the student room to fail and it sets them in a position of required merit. Positive Mindset vs Meritocracy It is important at this point that we acknowledge the fact that if someone has a positive mindset towards something they are vastly more likely to succeed than someone who does not. To put it like every coach and motivational speaker ever, “If you say you can’t you can’t, if you say you can you can.” In the context of education, this means students with drive and motivation are more likely to succeed. While talking with math teacher Kyle Edmonson he told me a story about a pair of brothers that he taught. One was ambitious and had initiative, he took advanced math and passed top of the class. The other brother didn’t care as much was shiftless, he took standard math and nearly failed. This begs the question, does meritocracy apply in education? In other words, Is hard work really what it takes to succeed? It is unfair to assume that the first brother was not more naturally gifted in math than the second brother. This goes for all students. Someone can work as hard as someone who is more naturally inclined doesn’t always get better results. It is important to remember though that, “comparison brand discontent”. In school, in order for students to maintain a healthy academic identity, it is imperative that they don’t compare themselves. Taking control of your education I bet you’re wondering, “now Lindsay you just told us you had a negative academic identity and you weren’t as smart as the other kids but, then you said you believe you are smart, what’s the deal with that?” Here’s the deal. As an elementary schooler, I had built an academic identity that I was bad at reading and writing. My test scores from standardized and classroom tests told me I was bad at reading and writing. The comparison I had made between myself and other students told me I was but, as I said I am not stupid. I am a motivated learner and I always have been and my test scores didn’t match that. Luckily because I have such wonderful supportive parents I was able to look at that discrepancy and get some answers. Turns out I am mildly dyslexic. I used this information to take control of my education and gain the drive to work hard to get better at and even enjoy reading and writing. It took a lot of work though. During my freshman year, I took honors English at DHS and I did poorly. It’s ok. To quote every motivational speaker ever, again, “failure is a necessary part of learning that leads to success”. That class taught me that a standardized style of education was not for me. The moment that I truly took control of my own education was when I transferred to Animas. And no I didn’t just say that to suck up to all the teachers in the room but, and I am finally going to stop talking about myself now, for now. Let’s talk about Animas. Animas is good because One of the many reasons Animas is such a wonderful school is their lack of tracking and excessive standardized testing. Perhaps some of you are thinking “But wait! I agree with our student teacher Anyd Lloid “If you look at every country that’s top in education in the world they [use] standardized tests”. You are right! All of the top-ranking countries in education in the world (Finland,Japan, Canada, Germany) do each have at least one standardized test. Standardized and placement tests can be useful and definitely have their places but, the results should be used to help students engage more deeply in their learning. AHS College Counselor Jessica Morison said in an interview conducted for this project, “Test scores and testing, in general, are usually not used as a way to ask more questions [they are] utilized as a punishment or a barrier”. The implications of scoring poorly are numerous. On a general scale having bad scores closes a lot of doors to students from summer programs to internships to getting into the college you want to. It can block kids from the opportunity to be in specialized classes and even the opportunity to have a positive academic identity unless the scores are used as a jumping-off point for growth from which students can set personal goals. This brings me back to Aniams and another reason it is a good school. The small size affords students the individual attention required for bad scores to be a learning opportunity and good scores to be a personal standard. The reason that I am telling you all about how fantastic Animas is, is I think students everywhere should have the opportunity to take control of their education and the individual attention and personalization they need to do that like we do at Animas. Conclusion I am proud to stand before you today and say I am a success story because I was able to figure out that My test scores don’t define my academic identity. I am very lucky to have had the support I needed to do that. What I want to do is rearrange the way we in America use testing. To create more success stories like mine, by empowering students’ academic identities at young ages in order to create driven students with high potential for success. The way I see it meritocracy can be instrumental in improving our society as a whole but in order for this to be successful, we need to improve the mindsets of young people so they can believe they have the potential to succeed. The success of the individual is the success of the group but every member must be supported!
Describe the project that you did and your experience at the exhibition.
My project Is called "Academic Identity in a Meritocracy". It is a commentary on standardized testing and its affect on students. My deliverables for this project were a mask that showed two different types of academic identities (see above) and a speech. The exhibition was an interesting experience because my speech is kind of personal ind I was surprised by how embarrassing it was to present it live to so many people.
Now that you have looked at both sides of our political division more deeply, how and why has your perspective shifted?
My perspective on my topic specifically has not really changed it has just became more educated. In general though having been through this project and the process of researching both sides of an issue I am much more adept at hearing things I don't agree with and deciding if ideas are worth listening to in depth or dismissing.
What do you now understand about your own values that you didn’t before?
I understand that a lot of my core values are similar to people with whom I disagree, with the presentation of those values is vastly different though. I tend towards liberal ideologies and I align on the vast majority if issues with a traditionally liberal agenda but, that stems from values of love, acceptance, kindness, humanitarianism. I also value environment though and that definitely differs from a more traditionally conservative value system.
What do you understand about the “other side’s” values that you didn’t before?
I understand the entire idea of conservative values better now. I understand and find really interesting how people with a more traditionally conservative value system generally react to rhetoric. I understand better how they traditionally feel about relevant political issues. the knowledge I had before this project about people who align differently politically than me is dwarfed by my understanding now. It's important to remember that we are all just people though.
What have you learned about democracy after completing this project?
I learned that it, like most things is imperfect and everyone will ever agree on one thing and that sucks but that is a necessary part of democracy. I learned that a true democracy is harder than ever and easier than ever to achieve in present times because the amount of information(true or unreliable) available to us through the internet
How have your political views changed as a result of this project?
Like I said above, My political views haven't really changed all that much. They have become vastly more well informed and educated and I have become more aware of my intake of politically related content.
What role could Rogerian rhetoric and/or a “willingness to be disturbed” play in a democratic society?
I thinks in all walks of life having a willingness to be disturbed is beneficial because it allows for the resolution of conflict with out confrontation or violence. Rogerian rhetoric is a way to get people to listen to you and to convince them of something so it is useful in a democracy in that it is effective communication that gets people to agree with you.
Since the beginning of time, people have stared into the night sky and asked themselves, “Where among all those stars do I fit". In the coming collection of words, we will take our first step into the ocean of questions of the universe. How was this reality created? Is there a god? Does science know the truth? If only to wet our toes with thought, to spark the kindling of a knowledge fire, let us chat about reality. As we explore together the creation of the universe and how we fit into it, I invite you to wonder about your own purpose. In the beginning, God created the entirety of everything in seven days. He created the earth, the sea, the trees, and the animals. And it was good. In his image, he made a man and called him Adam. From one of Adam's ribs, he made Eve. He put them in the garden of Eden and told them to eat and live and be happy but to never eat the fruit from the tree of wisdom lest she will die. Alas, she was tricked by a serpent and took a bite. Then she convinced Adam to take a bite as well, and so they got free will and knowledge. Then they hid from God because they were naked and ashamed and God asked them if they had disobeyed him and they said yes. Adam said it was Eve’s fault. God cast them out of the garden of Eden. He told Eve that she was to serve at the heels of her husband and that for the sin of disobeying him her descendants forevermore would feel excruciating pain when delivering children. The influence of this story goes far beyond the walls of the church. Its roots have infiltrated the very heart of western society spreading its misogyny into relationships, politics, education, and media. The portrayal of women has always been the weaker, more submissive, surviving gender. Women have been told to stay in the kitchen, to second guess themselves, to listen to their husbands. They have been held back from positions of power and education. Now with modern ideologies changing and diversifying culture is to. It is more accepting of women. The story itself begs the question, could one single divine being have created everything? A pink butterfly in a gray landscape, escaped from imagination alone. A cosmic knowledge capable of illuminating endless black with the entirety of the universe could possibly be the greatest feat of imagination ever. I never believed in god as a humanesque figure, all-powerful, ruling over the universe like a dictator. I never really believed in god at all but, perhaps a genderless, formless wisdom, a higher power that guides the flow of time like canyon walls to a river. Kind of like a universal destiny that plays a larger game; one that an individual could not see, fourth-dimensional chess if you will. Sometimes when I am completely by myself, surrounded by only the trees, rocks, water, earth and air, when I should feel utterly alone, I can feel a presence. Like the world around me is chattering amongst itself the way excited school children would. Like the world is in a conversation and I get to witness it. In this way, I believe that there is a greater spiritual flow to the universe. Do things happen for a reason? Or is history just a blip? They say that the world started in an abrupt burst of hydrogen atoms. Simply the interaction of random elements equally as unlikely to meet as we are to meet each other. I like to imagine complete black emptiness, and all of a sudden there is sound and light and gas, like an invisible switch triggered incomprehensibly by some random energy. People call this the big bang. Science is always proving itself wrong. Maybe as soon as tomorrow the exact theory of the origin of the universe from a scientific standpoint will again evolve. Some new secret will be discovered bringing us closer to understanding the true scientific origin story. The truth is like an ancient fossil hiding under many layers of dirt, knowledge is the brush that dusts away grime from the truth. Science tells us that we exist because of the coming together of prehistoric proteins that created a single-celled organism miraculously capable of self-replication. Over time its offspring evolved into multi-celled organisms and from there into plants and animals, insects, and eventually into the modern human. Science will never tell us the purpose of our existence. Today about 395,072 babies will be born. 395,072 pieces of reconfigured matter attached to a soul will be introduced to this existence that we like to call reality. Every day approximately 151,600 of those people die. The question is, what happens next? Does the soul continue? Does it exist on a different plane that we can't see? Does the life energy recycle into the universe the same way our bodies do? Maybe there is a place, a heaven of sorts that we go to after death. Maybe we stay on the planet that we know of as home and watch over what we’ve left behind. Maybe we exist afterlife only in the memory of those still alive, only there when they need us. Living on in a sense, through their eyes. Why do things feel as if every moment is fate, life or death? In the vast infinity that is everything, we are equally as significant as both an ant and the sun. In reality, one day everything will return to black stillness and there will be no memory to keep humanity alive. I think that even if there is no grander meaning, no universal calling and if eventually everything we know and love will be gone evaporated to gas and nothing, life has meaning. The challenge is finding it. So how in all this uncertainty do we find purpose? The thing is, while all this may be true, the world we live in day to day is very small. It consists of planet earth and its inhabitants. Nothing else. In order to be productive, It can be useful to focus on this world and this time; helping the world now. I don't know if humans can ever truly come to a conclusion as to what sparked time and the universe. I do know that in my life I strive to play my part in adding to the quality f this reality. I know that every life has a purpose and it only takes a question to start down the path to discovering it. At this point, I have presented you with many questions, I have asked you to wonder about your very existence and I have no answers for you. Curiosity keeps humanity moving forward, so I hope that you take these questions and bring them with you on your path. Maybe you will find some clarity on the way. I intend to.
A tsunami has come and pushed all the buildings around And now the streets are all curvy fallen trees in the path I walk over one, it points to the schoolhouse up in a tree high above the lowest branch, beyond my reach On another block I can see, someone trapped He got caught in this tsunami, Like me “Betrayal” he whispers I long to run To tell him that I’m sorry, “I didn't mean to hurt you it’s all going to be ok, wounds will heal” But the word betrayal builds up around me, “This disaster is my fault” my own opaque prison So I sit, drowning in the tone of that cry for help “betrayal” “How did this happen?”
“Betrayal” the word seeps through my brain a prison that isn’t there I am stuck in this place paralyzed guilt sticks my shoes to the ground like chewed chewing gum Wreckage drifts on the brisk winter breast It seems an eternity since the warm hand of summer swept away this old air
Fog lingers around a fallen statue A warrior no longer tall and strong lies on its side a cracked though strong & young He lies under it Burdened by its weight I wish I could lift that encumbrance Away from this world But the guilt on my shoes keeps me hard in place
My experiences in southern Utah have all been fantastic! One of my favorite places to boulder is Big Bend, it’s right outside of Moab. Once we went camping as a team out in the middle of the desert by big bend after a comp. We set up hammocks between two cars to sleep in. We ate dinner as a group of free passionate individuals with a common love of the rocky landscape and the adventures it had and would bring us. The sun went down bringing with the dark crisp air a new feeling of possibility. There were no butterflies in the stomachs of the explorative teem waiting for a free minute to break free; there was lightning in our veins. As the light grew dimmer and dimer we grabbed our headlamps, tied our sneakers, and headed out. We raced across a field full of short sharp grass to the base of a long ridge covered in boulders and crevices that called to our eager souls. I remember being so inspired by the people I was with, my teammates. They had all been climbing for so long and at that moment the confidence that oozed from our group was intoxicating. We ran at superhuman speeds leaping gaps that on any other night would be impossible, fueled by each other's excitement and passion. The air felt like it eas part of my lungs, there was no resistance as we flew over the rugged terrain. And when we were all truly satisfied and breathing harder than we realized we went back to camp. It was freezing the temp must have been 30 and because our sleeping bags were compressed they didn't keep us warm and none of us slept at all but the stars were incredible without any light poisoning. Billions of light stories high beyond my reach and understanding. Few things have the capacity to make me feel insignificant and small a mesmerized and grateful all at the same time. That night looking up from my ice-cube the grandeur that sprawled above me like a labyrinth did that and more. I could hear the peaceful sound of my friend's mentors and teammates breathing the cold night air around me. The adrenaline from the day dissipating with every exhale. I was exhausted and freezing and to be honest a little bit miserable, but, I am infinitely grateful that I did not fall asleep that night. It seems now that the experience I had peeping out of the crack at the top of my hammock that cold night broadened my perspective and caring to the with of that crack.
Sometimes I have words in my head that I don't hate; one line of a poem, a title, an idea, a feeling unattached to any comprehensible words. Sometimes I write them down: Happy little sparkles Unremarkable, Did I rattle your cage? At least you know it's there now, An empty room has so much potential Uncluttered, If highways were like hallways And classmates were cars and every brush was one with death I wouldn’t drive, Peel back the unimportant to find the unique, And then I'm stuck. Like standing on the edge of a very wide river that spans for miles. I can see idea fish swimming, flashing their illusive silvery scales as they pass through the water. I can see them darting about in the cool blue water but, I have no net with which to see them more closely and no boat with which to reach the other side. Words feel like delicate puzzle pieces that have faded in their box. Putting them together is a fragile art if you miss placing one the whole picture is skewed. Words have the power to alter reality, to create movement, to light up a dark room, to bring a thunderstorm on a sunny day, to build empires, and to tear down cities with the force of thousands of firey beating hearts. Writing words that stir, provoke, nurture these reactions from little sparks in someones head to wildfires in their soles, in their beings, is a task as big as the cosmos with untold ripples. Words can make you feel an ardent passion like the world is made of material potential, words can make you feel rage like your chest is going to erupt and plunging the world into a hurricane. Words can make you feel despair like you've been buried under all of humanities baggage and you will never see the sun again. Words can make you feel love, which has no comparison. Or words can be read and let go like a fish that's too small to eat. Words spin around me like elegant ballet dancers and thunder towards me like powerful wise elephants. Words are uncaged elusive and equivocal. They sometimes, if I am lucky, let me write them, or speak them to share them like a feast. Mostly though, words write me.
Fear is a silver shadow that morphs to reflect the inner pools of your being. I am afraid of the future, of being a disappointment, of not being good enough. I am afraid of loss, uncertainty, of pain. I want to live in the moment because if I weren't afraid of the future I could be engaged in the now. I want to be a professional climber and climb big walls all around the world and not worry about stability. I want to be an artist and live a life of expression un-burdened by judgment. I want to follow my dreams. The ultimate goal is to be happy whatever that may mean. With the courage to be ok with uncertainty, I could be a professional climber. I could own a gym and compete in pro-comps if I wasn't afraid of being not good enough. I'm afraid that if I weren't a good enough climber I couldn't get sponsored and own a gym which could lead to my not being able to make a sustainable life for myself and any hypothetical future family. I guess I'm also afraid of committing so much of my time to one thing when there is no guarantee of solidity. Investing so much time in one thing leaves so little time for the rest of life. The concept of time is such a slippery idea. On one hand there is a whole lifeful of time just there waiting to be used, but on the other hand, there are only so many hours in a day. I am afraid to have too many goals or spend to much time on one thing. I don't want to get older and realize that I'm not enjoying what I'm doing or that I haven't done what I want to. I'm Afraid Of Being Stuck. With the courage to face the unknown and not worry about the consequences, I could be an artist. I could express the world through my eyes. I'm afraid that the world is an ugly thing to express though. And I'm afraid that the world wouldn't like my expression or that it wouldn't be seen. A big part of my personal happiness is related to being a good friend. I am afraid of letting my friends down. I think in the process of coming to terms with fear understanding the origin is crucial. There is a difference between being involved and accomplished. I for example am involved: Friday show, student council, math club ice climbing, rock climbing. I participate in each of these activities, but, when I really look at everything I'm doing, I've got to admit I question whether or not all that matters. I am afraid of missing out, sometimes I wonder though, if I focused on less, if I would get more done? In the end, I don't strive to be fearless and I don't think that being fearless would help me accomplish my goals at all. Fear keeps me safe. It keeps me interested. I have more fun when I'm a little afraid, without fear life would be monochromatic. Fear helped me know my boundaries and it helped me push them. Fear is evolutionary, originally fear kept us running from predators and harm, like us it has adapted to modern life and it still keeps us safe. The key is to know when to listen to fear and how to use what it is telling you in a productive way.