Thursday, January 19, 2012

Boxes of Chocolates and Coconut Milk: An Essay for a Student from his English Teacher

Today's post is inspired by one of my honor's students.  He wrote a very sorry attempt at an essay.  When I challenged him about it, he challenged me right back.  He said that it is not possible to write a lot about such topics as responsibility or honesty or other good character traits.  I said that I could write about absolutely any topic he gave me.  He said "Okay.  Coconut juice."  Here is my essay.  Enjoy.

Forrest Gump is known for coining the phrase “Life is like a box of chocolates- you never know what you’re gonna get.”  However, life is more than that.  It is not made up of a melted candy shell, easy to tap into.  Instead one must work hard to attain the richness that is at the center of life.  It is instead more like a coconut with its hardened outer shell and rough exterior.  In order to achieve the greater things in life, sincere effort must be put forth because life doesn’t come easily.  You may not “know what you are going to get,” but building good character will give you the tools to access the finer parts of life and prepare you for the bumpy road ahead.
     To continue the analogy further, imagine the durable casing of the coconut shell.  This fruit drops from the tallest of trees and cannot be easily broken.  Attempts to ungracefully bash it in will only prove to be frustrating, even to the strongest of people.  It is not something that can be forced.  It is only through time, patience, and perseverance that one can gain access to the meat inside.  Like life, people learn from the mistakes of their rushed and ill-guided attempts at avoiding responsibility and from the hard work that is the epitome of life.  These things cannot be rushed and mature over time.
     When a person finally does crack open a coconut, the inside is pretty standard.  You do know what you are going to get:  meat and coconut juice- the internal essence of the fruit.  The rich and vibrant purity and the sweetness of the juice make all the effort worth the prized ending.  In life the struggles and hurdles are not a wasted effort.  The ends justify the means in that in order to truly understand, enjoy, and cherish the treasures in life, one must trudge through the time-consuming lessons, harsh criticisms, and otherwise strenuous character-building mechanisms that will eventually mold and define a person’s better nature.
      Chocolate easily melts under the slightest rise in temperature, but troubles are not disintegrated so simply.  One cannot predict the future, but being armed with the lessons of life and good character helps negate the ill-effects of an unpredictable world.  It is also necessary to note that these lessons do not come easily otherwise they would not be worth the trouble put into them, but the rewards earned for obtaining wisdom, responsibility, respect, patience, and all of the other positive character traits in life are well worth the work to obtain them.

I will be turning my essay into him tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Smaller Things in Life

Being short is amazing.  Seriously.  Amazing. (A short intro for a short topic)

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always been small.  When picture time came around, I was usually first or second in line.  I was great at hide-and-go-seek because I could fit into the tiniest of places (even behind a toilet once but let's save that adventure for another time).  And my parents helped me adapt to my height by providing objects around the house for me to stand on to reach cabinets, and all of our light switches had these long handled attachments that I could pull down on to turn the lights off.  When we went to movies, my mother always had to bring her giant purse because the theater seats would try to close me up inside.  I was an excellent climber because, let's face it, all of the cool things in life are up on shelves.  And if I fell down while I was running, I never broke a bone because I didn't have that far to fall.  

Nowadays I don't really feel like a short person.  I teach high school freshmen and most of them are taller than me, but that doesn't feel weird to me because everyone is usually taller than me.  It really dawned on me the other day when, of all things, I was checking the height and weight requirements for Kangaroo Jac's bouncy house warehouse and it said "10 years old or 60 inches."  I'm 61 inches... I am the approximate size of a ten-year-old.  This explains why when we have a new security guard at my school, I get asked for my hall pass and teachers cut me in the lunch line.

But back to why being short is so great.  First, buying pants is easy.  When I try them on at the store, it looks like I'm melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.  But then I get them hemmed.  End of story.  Tall people, as you have probably already realized, your problem with pants is that they are always too short.  You have to always make sure you are wearing matching socks because those puppies are going to be seen by everyone every time you sit down.  I can always make my pants shorter, but what are you going to do about your high waters?  Add fabric?  I think not.  In addition, I can buy normal capri pants at those end-of-summer sales and get them super cheap.  No need to hem those bad boys because normal capris are instant pants for me.

I have also concluded it is easier for me to lose weight.  For one, I have already mentioned my wonderful climbing skills.  The bottom kitchen shelf is as high as I can reach tippy-toed before I have to monkey climb my way up the cabinet facing.  In addition, I have to take two to three steps for your every one step just to keep pace with you.  Now that's what I call power walking.

As one who is vertically challenged according to the politically correct, I am closer to the ground.  Obvious, you say?  Well, this has its benefits.  I find a lot of money on the ground- a hundred bucks one time!  This also means I never have to duck for anything.  While you tall people are up there getting concussions, I'm living the easy life walking with my head held high, as high as your waist.

I've heard all the jokes about being short.  I've had people ask me if I can see their boogers.  They get me to tie their shoes because I'm closer to their feet.  You cloud sniffers like to sit in front of me in theaters.  At hotels, the sizably tall guests always leave their shower heads at such a height that, though perfectly centered on their body, drowns me when I turn on the water (and understand, I am too short to reach up and move it out of my face and there's no climbing in the shower).  They ask me if I can see over the steering wheel and if I can touch the pedals (without the use of a phone book, I might add).  I'm always the last to know when it's raining and the first to smell your farts.  So go ahead with your little quips about my shortness.  I am proud of my 61 inches and life is too "short" to worry about the "little" things.