Cross My Heart and Hope to Write


Monday, May 27, 2013

Alma Mater: The Significance of Education

I recently graduated from Stony Brook University. Though I may be the minority, I speak candidly when I say that I have sincerely enjoyed nearly every minute of my time there. There have been trials and tribulations, but they are all part of the education I received. As a transfer, commuter, and working-class student, working an average of 30 hours per week, yet still managing to find time to volunteer at research labs and hospitals, I am blessed to feel so connected to the university. How is this possible? It's all about where you put your passion.

I think identifying with your studies is incredibly important for anyone seeking higher education, although the practice should be instilled as early on as possible. And I don't mean simply liking your studies for career purposes. Taking ownership of your studies, learning to instill a sense of connection to the education you are receiving, is important for securing happiness and positivity throughout your college (and school) career. It is also an important life lesson.

It's simple, really: We all take classes we don't want to; we all get stuck with that one course we absolutely dread. However, no matter how pointless and cumbersome the class may seem, you're guaranteed to learn something new and interesting. It is inevitable. And that very fact makes it not a waste of time. If you approach the class actively seeking to learn something you hadn't learned before, you will feel more engaged, more connected, and more interested in the subject. This goes with life, too: If you are stuck at a job you hate or in a situation are obligated to be in, either change it or make the best of it, and that's a matter of attitude. Make it matter. Make it worth it. Take pride in it and put your happiness into it instead of waiting for it to give it to you. In life, you have to make your own happiness. 

I have met hardworking men and women who never finished high school with a larger intellect than some of the kids I've met in college. It's all about where you put your passion. Every experience is a learning experience and if you approach life with curiosity, with a sincere desire to learn, and to own your education, your life will be enriched. It's not about the diploma on the wall - its about the vibrancy you impart onto your life and the life of others. You are your education.        

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Freedom of Truth: Liar's Plea

Truth is a curious phenomena. It is something that can be very powerful and beneficent, but also incredibly spiteful. For those who adhere to truth and honesty, life is pretty kind. The truth will set you free, so they say - free from guilt, free from fear, free from apprehension. I think the greatest danger in falsifying the truth (lying) is the culpability that builds inside us. As time goes on, guiltiness will haunt, while the chances of the truth coming to the surface increases. It is a terrible, beautiful game.

Truth is dangerous and powerful. Hold true to it and it will never spite you. Turn your back on it and truth will stab it. 

Most people avoid the truth because of the pain or consequences that result from its admission. To avoid such inconveniences, we often fabricate a lie to put off the angst of the moment. The problem  with this is that the pain is minimized for a time, but after a while, especially if the lie is maintained, the pain of the truth getting free becomes far worse. The bigger the fiction, the harder it will fall, the sharper the pieces, and the farther they'll scatter. Also, as time passes, the victims of truth will increase exponentially. Truth must be kept in check by ensuring it is spoken of more often than not. Truth enjoys attention.

We all lie, and little white lies aren't so bad sometimes. But there is a huge difference between a petty fib and a massive fabrication. Have you got lies you've been keeping for a long while? Do they eat you up inside, but you're too afraid to tell the truth? Set those who may be hurt by the truth down and tell it to them gently yourself. They will appreciate it, maybe not immediately, but with time they will respect your courage. It is the worst when the truth is admitted by someone or something else. Don't be afraid to befriend the truth. Truth and honesty will sprinkle your life with goodness. It is the essence of karma.

Liar's Plea

If some solitude can be sought between
The rind that segregates me,
Perhaps some air could leak inside 
And nourish this sheltered being
Whose memories confine with sin
The falseness they betray,
While truth stands by
But refuses to decay.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What We Can Learn From The Elderly: Aroysgevorfen

I currently work part time at a nursing home on Long Island. It is sincerely the best job I have ever had (aside from being a writer). I have volunteered at nursing homes before, the most memorable of which was when I spent time at Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island, NY. I spent my time in the dementia and bed-ridden wings of the chronic care facility and realized how such a simple gesture of sitting down and speaking with this someone, visiting them, sharing in their company, can brighten their day and bring a smile to their face. If you have a family member in a nursing, rehabilitation, or long-term care hospital, PLEASE go visit them, go spend time with them and make them feel loved. 

Some of my friends have expressed an inability to work with the elderly. They tell me they couldn't handle it emotionally and it's too sad for them. Similarly, I have read articles lamenting nursing homes, saying their happy exteriors are just a farce. It's a societal problem; we shouldn't shun the elderly, we should incorporate them into our lives, no matter the state of their decline. A nursing home is only as positive as people make it, that includes the visitors and staff. 

The one thing that the elderly have taught me is to appreciate the present. 

No matter their mental or physical state, people can still react to things moment to moment. Though they may not remember you in a few minutes, they appreciate what you're doing for them at that moment. Though they may be trapped in a delusion, a smile no less fills them with joy and a happy gesture can capture their misplaced fascination, if only fleetingly. It is the simple things that count. Pay attention to their mannerisms, listen to what they have to say (no matter how nonsensical), for not even age can snatch away the grandeur of compassion. Give them your respect and your love, and they will sense it. Respect them for who they are and were, and realize that it is the tiny moments of now that matter to them most.        

(Yiddish: "wasted") 

A senile man said to his mirror,
“I’m not Dorian Gray,”
And as he shook his bony finger,
He said, “You too will fade away!”
Stubbornly he stared it down,
His face contained within,
Pacing, naked, stern, his scowl
Refused to let this reflection win.
“You’re not the man I was,
You’re the child I am now!”
He scrutinized the scaly hubs
In which his tired pupils bowed.
He traced the lines that donned this shell,
Like a fractured Faberge egg,
Into the cockles of Time’s vast dell
And succumbed to its vicious phage.
The impudent structures of this cask,
Feeble, adulterated, and gross,
Possessed no tokens of their past,
Which was forthright tarnished when juxtaposed.
The cicatrices, faded, absorbed;
The supremacy mislaid within;
Hair, sallow; allure, usurped; 
Disturbed, he returned to the eyes again.             
They seemed foggy with cataracts,
Their fiery glint snuffed out.
His skin resembled melting wax;
His knees, consumed by gout.
And starring at this ransacked body,
The crusade of life had pillaged it bare,
He could not recognize the shoddy
Chrysalis that met him there.
Where was all the jubilance?
Where had that effervescence gone?
Played out like a game of Risk
Or some old-fashioned song.
“You’re not the man I was,”
He whispered once again,
“You’re the child I’ve become.”
But whatever happened to the man? 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How To Capture Time In A Jar: Stabbed In The Heart

Well, you can't actually capture time in a jar. Sorry. In fact, whether or not time is a physical thing, able to be captured, is a matter of debate. Short of contemplating the nature of quantum phenomena and time's questionable reality, the formula for capturing a moment is as easy as slowing down.

God has given us the gift of memory, however fleeting, so that we may reflect and learn, remember and appreciate, recall and hope. Much of our lives seems to be spent rushing through things, to get to the next thing, in our endless list of things. But learning to slow down, to look around you, and to recognize the beauty of this moment, what is special about what is happening right now, is an art that will help you to solidify your memories and make them more vivid. Savor where you are right now and quell the worry of where you have to be. We must learn to not look on our memories with regret and contempt for the future, but rather to allow them to frame our moving forward and to look on them with happiness that they happened. Everything that has come before has contributed to today. You can use your memories, like nature intended, or you can let them use you. 

Some things are out of our control, but time is not necessarily one of them. If we change our perception of it, if we learn to slow our pace, to see the little miracles that surround us, and to appreciate the now, the then, and the what will be, we can enrich our lives.   
Stabbed in the Heart 
Fate will pine the loss of Time
And let Chance seize the world.
Bitter Luck won't give a fuck,
While Serendipity laughs and whirls.
Irony bays and impatiently waits
For Contradiction to hide the foil
In the chest, but there is no rest
For a Heart's cosmic toil.