BIG BANG EXPLAINED
Isabella Brisco Schofield--
From the beginning of time, people have been wondering, theorizing, and contemplating about how our existence began. Most cultures have told tales of powerful deities that sculpted us and cared for us, but over the years scientists have created new theories about how our universe started. This topic first caught my eye because I’m very interested in science, and I wanted to write a scientific essay on this topic, but after doing some research I’ve come to a new perspective. At this time, I believe that the universe began with the Big Bang because of cosmic microwave background radiation and the expansion of the universe, but I also believe that we know so little about our universe that we can never come to a definitive conclusion, and there will always be nuances to our creation that we will never fully pinpoint.
The first piece of evidence to support the Big Bang theory is the existence of cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR). All around the entire universe, there are always low-frequency waves of radiation. Once these waves were discovered, scientists began to wonder why they exist. Then, the two scientists who discovered this radiation read Edwin Hubble’s Big Bang theory. If the universe did begin in a big bang, then there would have been lots of radiation at the beginning that would eventually lessen to a very small amount, but the radiation would still be present. CMBR is essentially the leftovers of the big bang, and its existence helps to prove the theory. After analyzing CMBR, NASA also determined that, “We now know (as of 2013) that the universe is flat with only a 0.4% margin of error.” The fact that the universe is flat does not have much to do with the big bang theory itself, but it goes to show how little our brains can comprehend about the universe and how little we, the general public, know about the universe.
The second piece of evidence of the Big Bang is that the universe is expanding. Edwin Hubble discovered this fact in 1929 when observing distant galaxies moving away from us. Using logic, Hubble figured that if we reverse time, then the universe had to have started from one point and expanded to the size that it is today. Einstein’s calculations showed this fact, but he refused to believe in universal expansion for a while because he couldn’t wrap his head around that fact. The idea that our world is constantly expanding was so out of this world to him that he thought his calculations and formulas were incorrect. Modern scientists were eventually able to calculate the age of the universe to be 13.8 billion years old by mathematically turning back the clock. Today, more and more research proves that the universe is growing larger day by day, so our universe logically must have begun from one point.
Even though these two pieces of evidence point towards the big bang as the origin of our universe, humans still have such little idea of how our universe works that I don’t think we can ever know exactly how our world began. A huge example of this is the existence of dark energy and dark matter. Recent research has shown that the rate of expansion of the universe is speeding up instead of slowing down. It’s speeding up so much that scientists may have to invent new laws of physics to explain it. Since the expansion of the universe is doing the opposite of what it should do, there must be some kind of force pushing the universe to expand faster and faster. This force has been named dark energy. What is dark energy? Nobody has a clue. According to NASA, the leading organization in space research, dark energy and dark matter are, “a complete mystery.” What’s wilder is that 68% of our universe is made up of dark energy, and about 27% is dark matter; therefore, everything we know, all the atoms, photons, galaxies, planets, stars, and everything we have ever observed, make up just 5% of the entire universe. If we don’t even know what 95% of the universe is, how can we say that we know how the universe began? We just simply don’t have the knowledge to declare for a fact how our existence began.
In conclusion, while CMBR and the expansion of the universe prove the Big Bang Theory to be correct at this time, it is difficult to pinpoint with certainty how our universe began. Scientific theories have evolved as we learn new things, and it is certain that the big bang theory will also be improved upon. I don’t think it will be proven wrong, rather that it will be added to and changed to accommodate new findings. The mystery of what started the big bang remains, and no one has a concrete answer. Some think that a deity caused the big bang, while others think that it just spontaneously happened. Whatever the answer to that is, we’ll have to do years and years and years of research to even near a conclusion on most matters concerning how this all started.
MUSIC INSPIRED ME
I recently was exposed to a lot of inspiration, which has made me 100% more creative than I was just a couple of months ago.
I think that this experience is very important for everyone, because everyone is creative. For me it was listening to new music that changed my whole perspective on life. Once I heard a song that I liked, I listened to the artist more. I soon became obsessed with aspiring to be as talented and creative as that artist, leading me to better myself in anyway possible. Now I pay attention to: what I eat, how I can make myself more diverse, and how I am feeling mentally and physically. You may not think that you are creative, but you just haven't found any inspiration. My recent spike in creativity has made everything much more interesting than it was before. For example, when I'm sitting on the bus coming home from sailing practice, I used to just sit and look at my phone. Since my creativity surge, I now sit and draw in my notebook or I write down new ideas for music that I can play. Being more creative has impacted my life massively, and it has made everything much better. I think that to truly become more creative, you have to try new things and see how you feel about them. For me it was listening to new music that changed my whole perspective on life.
In the future I would recommend trying to do as many different things as you can; be diverse and different. The music that really inspired me, was music that I had listened to my whole childhood, but when I revisited it, I appreciate the music and my parents much more. Once you are exposed to something you like, things will be much better than they were before; I promise.
BE WITH OTHERS
There is one question that will forever be in the back of my mind: what is the purpose of life? I don’t believe there is one definite answer to this question. However, I do believe any answer to this question is valid. This question stands out to me as opposed to the others because it makes me question everything I know, from birth until now.
I believe the purpose of life is to be with others. The feeling of happiness is what I will always be determined to have. It’s that desirable feeling that keeps me motivated and gives me a reason to live. I find that happiness through others. Being accepted by another human, and to smile just by looking at that person, is all I need. Being alone in this world is a punishment I wouldn't put upon my worst enemy. People that you can trust and call a friend are essential to a life worth living.
Happiness can come in many forms, but true happiness is a connection so strong with someone that you consider that person an extension of yourself. In fifth grade, I went to a summer camp with my friend Shayne in Santa Cruz. This was my first time being away from my family for a long period of time, and I learned a few things from it. The camp had everything: a large field for playing frisbee, a water slide, dirt bikes, a zip line and many people I had never met. I felt uncomfortable because all these people I didn’t know surrounded me like a swarm of bees. I felt alone, but not when I was with Shayne. He was always there with me and made me feel like I was at home even though I was not. He was good at making friends, so quickly the swarm of bees became a feeling of warmness and clarity. However, on the second to last day of camp, Shayne woke up and couldn’t breathe. He had an allergic reaction to an advil he took the night before, and had to leave camp immediately to go to the hospital. When I woke up that morning and didn’t see Shayne in the bed next to me, I felt like a piece of my soul had been stripped away. I was quiet during breakfast, and as we were leaving to go do an activity, I cried. Tears were flowing out of my eyes because I no longer felt like I was at home. The people again were bees that buzzed in my ears and filled my mind with confusion and loneliness. Even though the connection with me and Shayne was only severed temporarily, the pain felt permanent. Life is filled with connections to people and things, and when those connections break, a piece of you breaks off with it.
The purpose of life is to create bonds through pure happiness. As long as you have someone to share with this beautiful life we’ve been given, you’ll realize you have a purpose. Loss can be a devastating thing, but it’s in our nature to nourish and care for eachother. This means that someone, even someone you may never expect, cares about you and would never want to feel the bond they have with you be shattered. Life is a gift, and we’re meant to share this gift with others.
IF NOTHING MATTERS, EVERYTHING DOES
For much of human existence, people have pondered one question: why are we here? What is the meaning of all this? All other questions, all other reflection and analyses, pale in comparison to this seemingly unanswerable query. If we are to truly achieve happiness, then we must first discover what it means to be happy. In order to truly live, we must first discover what it means to live.
There have been countless attempts to understand and answer this question, of these solutions; two rise above the rabble. The first exemplary answer is that life is to be enjoyed without limits, and it is meant to be lived to its fullest. The other contradictory proposal is that life is lived for others; your life is insignificant and only exists to further the ambitions and progress of the collective. Those who follow the first school of thought are “free spirits,” people who are not bound by societal constraints; people who roam freely and spread their message. These people seek fun in every situation; they travel the Earth to experience new things, see new sights, and meet new people. These people don't achieve anything. Their global galivants are soon forgotten if ever remembered by those few who are close to them. They may have had fun in their youth, but in old age, they are left with nothing; these people are trees with no roots, mansions with no foundations. In the end, they accomplished nothing and make no mark on history or those around them. They will die alone and cold; they have not a roof over their head, or a blazing fire in the hearth. The followers of the second school of thought believe that in order to fi.nd meaning and achieve happiness they must contribute to the greater whole. They work countless hours with the dream of satisfaction through helping others just out of reach. They get promotions, commendations, and praise. They spend their entire lives building something greater. They purchase houses, cars, and hoards of meaningless commodities to stimulate the economy; in truth, it is only a desperate attempt to fill the emptiness within them. Very few of the legions of these people will be remembered. Their lives are an endless search for happiness and satisfaction through service, yet few if any will achieve this dream. In the end, what is recognition worth? How do little words that represent you, in a dusty and misused stack of tree fiber bound by dead cow matter?
The universe is vast and terrifying; its endless bounds are ever-growing. Our galaxy is but a speck of dust in the universe; our solar system is not even a pinprick in the unfathomable darkness of our galaxy; our planet is all but a grain of rice in the vastness of our solar system; we are not even a speck of dust on our planet. We are nothing, our every action is inconsequential. If we vanished from existence nothing would notice, nothing would care.
In the end nothing we do matters, and so everything we do matters. We cannot influence what is greater than us, so why should we try? If one's life is devoted to nothing but fun then they will die with nothing, but they will live with everything. If one's life is devoted to work and advancement, they will die having improved the lives of many to come. No one life is greater than another; all are equally meaningless. It is the right of the individual to pursue happiness. Happiness takes many forms: from the satisfaction and glee found in small things like gentle sunshine on your skin to the overwhelming joy found in improving the lives of those to come, even if you will not live to see the effects or revel in the glory of your achievement. In conclusion, there is no meaning to life; there is no one universal answer that will bring fulfillment. Every answer, every lifestyle can bring happiness and fulfillment. The real question is: which answer is yours?
SURVIVE AND REPRODUCE
I often find myself pondering the question, why are we here? Do I have a purpose on this earth and in this life? I think that getting too deep into the response can cause one to lose touch with reality. Thoughts about how insignificant human life is in the scope of the universe can be fun, but also dangerous. I believe that there is a simple, scientific answer; humans, as well as every other living creature, are on this earth with only a simple set of goals. Those goals are to survive, reproduce, and guarantee a future for our species.
In my opinion, humans, despite many years of evolution, have the same natural instincts as our early ancestors. These instincts, such as survival and reproduction, are hardwired into our brains. This is a lasting trait from early humans when it was crucial that they continue to repopulate. It seems to me that thousands of years ago, humans did not have time to contemplate the meaning of their existence. At the time, people were worried about keeping themselves alive. However, humans nowadays do not often have to fear for their lives, leaving much more time to think philosophically.
I have noticed that in my own life I tend to avoid questioning my reason for living. For me personally, it would almost be easier to go through life never having time to ask myself these deeper questions. Although I don’t agree with many parts of religion in general, these thoughts lead me to better understand why humans turn to belief in a higher power. It is much simpler to trust that one's life is in the control of a divine being, rather than to live alone, only for oneself.
Modern humans seem to need reassurance that their life has meaning and that they are here on earth for a reason. However, religion is not the only route through which humans find significance. People in my life have told me that they live for their family, friends, loved ones, or even careers. I’m not sure I have found my moral purpose in life now that my instincts to survive simply are not prevalent. Survival has hardly been a concern for me, and I have never thought that the human race depends on my life. I don’t think I live for my family, friends, or school. Maybe I live my life for love, but I am content with knowing that I haven’t yet figured it out.
CREATE INDIVIDUAL MEANING
I often think about how rare our lives are. The chance of our existence is so small that it is almost impossible to grasp. The path that our lives have taken is in most ways completely out of our control. There is so much to think about when it comes to the absolute meaning of life, and I spend a lot of time trying to work it all out in my head. So when it came up in class, it caught my attention right away.
What we do with our lives is so meaningful, but at the same time, it seems almost completely pointless. We live and die and are eventually forgotten. Humanity itself consists of a whopping 7 billion people, and each one of us is just one in a crowd of 7 billion. We all have our own complex lives tied to those of others. All of us live under completely different circumstances, some much more fortunate than others. I live in a sheltered area, and my life so far has been pretty carefree, especially compared to millions of others. I have access to things, material and not, that many don’t have. So I’m not going to say that the meaning of life is something like seeing the world or being successful or even to be happy, although these things look different for everyone. Because for many on this planet, how is it possible to be generally happy if you’re suffering? If you don’t have access to things like running water, food, or medicine, how is it possible to be content? I don’t think that it’s fair to give one underlying meaning of life if it doesn’t apply to everyone.
I believe that people cannot function without believing that their lives have a purpose or some sort of meaning. It doesn’t matter what gods, if any, we choose to believe in, or what conditions we live under. Without believing in purpose, we would shut down. We just simply cannot function if we are completely convinced that our lives don’t matter in some way or another. Because we all live extremely different lives, we need to create our own purpose that fulfills us in the ways that we need.
In conclusion, I think that the purpose of life is to create our own individual meaning for our lives. I believe this because we all live in extremely different circumstances, which makes it impossible to create an underlying meaning to life that applies to everyone on this planet. We all need to find a meaning and value to our lives that completes us, and that’s something that applies to the entirety of humanity.
ROLLERCOASTER RIDE WE CALL LIFE
The question “What is the purpose of life?” is an open ended question, and a question that has no correct answer. The answer to this question is complete and utter opinions, and these opinions can all be extremely different. Some people think the meaning of life is just to enjoy it, others say the meaning of life is to be with loved ones, and others say that the meaning of life is to work hard. There are some people who believe in all of these, and this is what fascinates me: the variety of answers, just to one question.
In the book The Glass Castle, a girl named Jeanette Walls is born into a family whose parents are excitement junkies. When Jeannette, who recalls these events through her book (which is a true story) as a little girl, her parents cart her, her brother and sister, all over the place on the dream of striking it rich off of gold, hidden under the dirt of the Nevada deserts. They are constantly moving, as her parents always seem to run into trouble with local police in the towns they live in for a short while. Even though they are constantly on the move, the three kids seem to enjoy themselves, and picture themselves traveling all over the world on some grand adventure. Throughout the book, it becomes apparent that this family’s meaning of life is very much outside the box. I am personally having a hard time pinpointing exactly what the purpose of life is to this family, but what it seems like is that they thrive on the excitement. This doesn’t matter if it comes in the form of the excitement of not knowing where they are going, or dodging local cops, or just the excitement of being on the road: they are like hitchhikers, always looking for a new place to go, and enjoy a road that isn’t exactly as straight as the status quo.
In my experience, I definitely know people who seem like they work all the time. An example of this is a family friend whom my parents met in college. Actually, he isn’t just a family friend, he is a part of my family. He comes down from San Jose almost every weekend to spend time with my parents, myself, and my brother. He is a principal at an elementary school, and he seems to love it. But even when he comes down every weekend, I often wake up to find him on his computer, at the dining room table or on the couch, communicating with his teachers. I believe that this is partially due to the fact that he lives alone, and he doesn’t have a specific group of friends to spend time with up where he lives. Sadly, I believe another factor that contributes to this is his father's passing. All these factors added up, I think he sometimes works to keep his mind occupied because of his grief for his dad, sometimes because he has nothing else to do, but I think these reasons add up to the bigger picture of his character: to him, the purpose of life is to work hard. After knowing him for as long as I have, I believe that he takes satisfaction in accomplishing something, and accomplishing it well. He is like a beaver. He is constantly working, always pushing himself, to make sure his students are happy to be at school.
My purpose of life is something a little different than both of these views. Every Saturday morning, I go to the Drake tennis courts at around 8:30 to practice with my tennis coach. Since the courts are right next to Drake Boulevard, you can constantly hear the cars and motorcycles zooming by, which I don’t mind that much. Occasionally though, there are short, beautiful periods of time where everything is quiet. Where everything is just still, like the ocean when there is no wind. At that moment, I listen to birds singing, trees rustling, and see beautiful leaves glide to the ground. And in these short moments, I appreciate the beauty of nature more than I ever have. It’s just beautiful, just to enjoy those still, peaceful moments. That is exactly what life means to me. To enjoy the little breaks in the ever-stressful cycle we call life.
The purpose of life is a complicated concept, and this concept comes to everyone differently, as it did to the people I mentioned. Though all ideas of the meaning of life are different, I believe the overall meaning of life comes down to happiness. To the Walls family in The Glass Castle, they were extremely happy just to travel, never knowing where. To my friend who lives in San Jose, who obviously finds happiness in the company of loved ones, but who also finds happiness working hard, and working well. Me, I just find breaks in my busy day to find and enjoy happiness. Even though all these people’s opinions are different, these ideas do apply in my life. As soon as my little break is over, for instance a weekend, my mindset immediately changes. My “weekend” mindset immediately switches back to “school” mindset, where I always strive to work hard and do my best. And when I walk out my front door to school, on every new day, I never know what my day will be like, on the ever bumpy and curvy rollercoaster ride we call life.
MAKE IT MATTER
The purpose of life is hard to define because really there is no purpose. We may have personal goals or ideas we want fulfilled, but in the grand scheme, what we want and think doesn’t matter. The answer to what our purpose is doesn't lie in religion or the universe, but in ourselves. This is your life and you control where it goes. There is no real overall meaning of life, but we can make our own purpose.
You could live out your days as a hermit or the most famous person on earth and still the world would forget you. Some people fear being forgotten, but it’s inevitable for everybody. In ten thousand years or two thousand the universe will go on, wether you were here or not. I think because of this you should live your life for yourself and no other. It doesn’t matter what you do, so just do what you want. Whatever you want to do and whatever makes you happy is the purpose of your life. There is no overall scheme or purpose; only the individual can find their own meaning. Nobody is fulfilling anything but their own personal ideas and goals, some of which the world will never even know. If you make your short life on this planet worthwhile and you enjoy it, you’ve filled it with meaning, and that's all that really matters.
If there's no meaning in life, then why are we conscious? Even our planet's best scientists can’t find the source of human consciousness. Every individual is called such for a reason. We truly are individual-- nobody has the same conscious. This reason furthers my belief that one has to find their own purpose in life. We’re all here for a different reason, no matter how or why we are. Every human consciousness craves the same basic things, but has a different idea of how to achieve happiness and success. Everyone finds fulfillment in their own way, and finding that fulfillment is your purpose. By fulfilling yourself, you help humanity and the world move forward.
Fulfillment is the feeling that the things you’ve done and seen is adequate or enough. Who wouldn’t want that feeling? Janis Joplin once said, “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow, it’s all the same day.” This statement could not be more true. Memories and feelings don’t have time or dates. We remember things as events in our life, an overall point of time. If life is one day, why not make it one worth living again? If you look back on your life and would change it, your purpose hasn’t been found. Purpose is to live how you want and not regret it tomorrow.
At the end of your life you won’t remember what embarrassing thing happened thirty years ago, but instead the things and people you’ve met and loved and liked. You’ll remember feeling happy or empty and only on your deathbed can you truly reflect. Was your life a beautifully written book or a movie with a hack job director? Which do you want it to be? The purpose of life is to make these small decisions, and to make them confidently and accept the consequences. The purpose is to bathe in the consequence of life and live in the moment. Squeeze every second out of every minute and make it matter. Then and only then have you found your purpose.
STRUGGLE GIVES US PURPOSE
People have wrestled with the question of “what is the purpose of life” for a really long time, which is why it’s so important that it gets something resembling an answer because this is a question that will come up again and again as a person's goal in life shifts. While many default to the answer: “the purpose of life is to be happy,” it is a superficial answer. Happiness is so fleeting and so nondescript that having it as the ultimate goal in life is very lazy. However, humans think way too much to just stay alive and not look for a definite purpose. A key part of that search is the struggle. The struggle, in turn, is what gives us purpose.
The reason “happiness” is a terrible ultimate life goal is not because wallowing in misery is an excellent use of time, but because life requires moderation in order to be purposeful. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle illustrates this point when the protagonists travel to a small town where everyone is in a perfect little family, all very happy, and all so very, very dull. The families have no purpose, other than to be happy. They’re aimless, doing nothing but living their scheduled lives and being happy. Perfect, happy, little towns where there is nothing but happiness are often seen in science fiction novels. They are a warning to do more than just be happy, because there’s nothing worse than a lump that feels too much and does too little.
This isn’t to say that there should be no joy in life. Frankly, life with no joy doesn’t seem all that worth living, but a modicum of struggle is necessary. There is a difference between pain and struggle. Pain just sucks. Struggle is the process we go through that makes whatever we are working towards worthwhile. Purpose is derived from struggle because struggle stands for the assertion of your willingness to undertake your task, and if joy is still found while you struggle, you have found what you want to commit a lifetime to. You have found a purpose.
Oscar Wilde said, “There are two tragedies in this world. One is not getting what you want. The other is getting it.” This quote perfectly encapsulates the idea of necessary struggle. If you aren’t getting what you want, you still have work to do, and constant work will always be a tragedy because constant work is tiring, and not achieving your goals is frustrating. Getting what you want means your work is finished, there’s nothing left to do and your purpose is over. However, the space in between frustration and the nostalgia of a finished project is purpose. So in order to find satisfaction, which is ultimately more important than happiness, we require a moderation of struggle and happiness. The balance between is where we find our purpose.
The question of our purpose is one that will never fully have an answer because people will always have different opinions. What I said in this essay could go against everything another person believes about their purpose. However, one answer that I refuse to accept is that there is no purpose. Perhaps the reason for that is because I’m afraid that everything and anything we do, no matter how important it seems to us now, might mean nothing. That’s probably why I need there to be a purpose. I’m not religious, I don't believe in God or a god or gods, but I would really like there to be some purpose that is in everyone. It would be lovely if everyone had a reason for living, an unrealized passion that would blow their mind and sweep them off their feet, carrying them towards a fulfilling life. Even if you won’t admit that a purpose, individual or overarching, exists, there is no way, absolutely no way, that a human can do nothing. People will always commit to something, some idea that drives them through life, and that, that means that they have a purpose. “It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one’s everyday life as if this were so.” (Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir)
FRIENDSHIP BONDS, WOVEN TOGETHER
What makes a friend a friend? This is a question that many people ponder, and it has a complex answer. Friendships shape communities that connect with other communities around the world. Relationships between friends are present in every aspect of life, and that is why friendship is important to many people.
A literal definition of a friend is: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. Friends are so much more than just two people bonded by affection. They are people whom you can go to for advice, help and support. Even though there are times when a friendship is rocky, true friends always sail past the storm into calm waters. The essence of a connection between two friends can be described by cheesy cliches.
A true friend never tears you down and is always there for you. Alice Walker wisely put it, “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” Friendship is an affiliation between two people who help lift each other up. Someone who doesn't listen to you, doesn’t let you speak your mind and who tears you down, isn’t a friend. Friends are people with whom you share your life so you aren’t alone in your own world.
As Rabindranath Tagore once said, “Depth of friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance.” This defines a friendship that I’ve had in my life. When I was in second grade, there was a new girl in my class who had joined the school in the middle of the year. I can still remember the first time she came in and the teacher called her up to the front to introduce her. She stood up there, nervously wringing her hands and glancing around the classroom. Her eyes met mine and I could see the worry in them. During lunch that day, I saw her alone under the big maple tree outside of class. She sat there quietly, watching how the wind rushed through the leaves above. The sun filtered through the tree, casting a waving figure on the ground. I approached her and as I got closer to the dancing maple, she looked up at me.
“Hi, I’m Ariana,” I smiled reassuringly as I walked up to her.
She responded to me, “I’m Alessandra.”
I stood there for a moment, as a gust of warm air blew my hair into my face.
“Do you want to sit?”
She moved to the side, as I sat down next to her. I asked her where she was from. We started talking and I got to know her. We had found out that we had the same initials: AGP.
I asked her, “Do you want to be friends?”
She nodded and said, “Yes,” a smile on her face.
Soon after that we were the best of friends.
To understand the concept of a friend, you must look deeply into the roots of socialization. Friends are part of the human civilization that makes a society. Without human connections, we are all just specks of stardust in the universe. Every bright friendship is a colorful thread that connects one person to another. Bonds between friends are woven together into the night sky, with all of its constellations.
NO MATTER HOW FAR
Friends are important. They are there for you. You know can trust them. They are also fun to hang out with. Best friends are a little different. They can feel like a brother or sister, but without the annoying qualities. You share the same ideas, thoughts, and you would have no problem telling them about any secrets or problems you're facing. The hard part is, trying to tell which friend you can promote up to the best friend standard, and which friend is not fully there yet. Sometimes it just happens, but sometimes someone has to get the ball rolling first. In my experience, it doesn’t matter on the time of knowing someone. It's the events leading up to the time of meeting that count.
The closest friend I have lives in Canada. Her name is Lianne. Over the summer every year, my family travels to Canada to see our grandparents. While we are over in Canada, it can get boring. Nothing screams fun when you are forced to listen to your grandma talk about her gossip TV shows. Because of this, and many other reasons, my mom decided we kids (my sisters and I) go to a sleep away summer camp that she used to visit when she was our age. That was back when I was 7. I have been going to that summer camp named Onondaga for about 8 years now. Onondaga is where I met Lianne. During every year except the last one, I thought of Lianne just as a friend whom I kind of knew, but who I would never really get close to. We used to hang out in the same groups and sort of talk to each other. We were in the “friend” group.
At the start of last year of camp, our section head of the “The Super Senior Boys” would decide to play a game called Trouble in the Henhouse. Basically, its full body contact rugby where there are no fouls, no rules, or a ref to protect us kids from the viscous counsellors trying to score on our net. So, as a pretty small guy, I was scared. The game lasted until too many of the campers got hurt, including me. A lot of kids had it worse than I. I only had a concussion. My friend Chucky broke his wrist and another friend Pato broke his leg. The girls section also played this game, Lianne included. All the campers who had injuries were forced to go to the health center (surprisingly atop an annoyingly steep climb, poor Pato). Lianne had broken her wrist and needed some painkillers. I needed medication for my head injury. We hung out at the health center for hours at a time, because of the long wait, and really got to know each other. After one would be sent out, they would wait, rain or shine for the other one, and that became a routine. After a while, I found myself really enjoying going to the health center. Nevermind how boring it would be. We became very close. Soon enough, we knew just about everything about each other and became best friends. She was so funny and we both had the same maturity level (of a 5th grader) so we got along really well. We would spend hours and hours talking and neither of us would get bored. When I had to leave, it was very sad. I knew that my best friend would stay in Canada while I would have to go back to California. Even though Lianne lives 2,000 miles away, I still talk to her everyday. Lianne and I are still best friends, and I can't wait to see her in a few months!
Although Lianne and I have known each other for 7 or 8 years, I never truly knew her until last year. When I started talking to her at the health center, I don’t know what happened but something clicked and we became so close. Before that year at camp, I was having a hard time adjusting to all the changes happening in my life. Lianne really helped me cope and accept most of the changes. I had never had a friend do anything like this for me before, so it really meant a lot. So, what makes a friend a friend? The empathy between the friends that creates a strong bond which can last forever, no matter how far, even over 2,000 miles away.
What makes a friend a friend? The unfortunate passing of Shayne, and our class circle discussion, has really brought this topic to my attention. Not only has the topic itself been brought to my attention, but the fact that I really have some extraordinary friends (this essay is also a thank-you note to them). My friends are probably the most important thing to me. They’re my small circle of people who I would consider family, but why? I could write you a list of traits that make a friend a friend, but I am going to tell you stories instead.
At some point last year, I was in an emotional hole. I felt sad all the time, and it was as if all the happiness in my brain had taken a vacation to a sunny beach. I really isolated myself from my friends, which isn’t like me at all. One of my closest friends, Ronan, decided to pull me out of that hole. He forced me to go walk around Lake Laginitus with him. He had his mom drop us off with nothing but a speaker and a box of Cheez-its. We walked in silence for a bit, but it wasn’t really silent. I automatically felt better just by having him there. We finally decided to step off of the path, and walk to the top of a hill that overlooked the lake. We sat there, eating Cheez-its and listening to music, for the three hours. He started playing this artist I had never heard before, but I instantly fell in love. He then began to bring up the most random questions and topics I have ever heard of. He started saying things like, “If soap falls on the floor, is the soap dirty or is the floor clean?” and, “Why do you think humans cry?” I don’t know if he was purposely trying to redirect my mind, or if he was just deep in his thoughts, but it worked. The next day I was back to normal, energetic Lauren. Ronan really didn’t do anything for me physically, but mentally he put me together again. Not long ago, I forced him out of his hole by having him help me paint my garage. Our bond is stronger than obsidian, and our understanding of each other is impossible to comprehend.
In 6th grade, I met this girl named Grace Hong. She hated me at first, but now I would consider her my sister. She had just joined my volleyball team, and didn’t really know anybody. Grace was intimidated by me because we played the same position, and at that point, I was better at it than she was. Once we started working together, we instantly connected like THAT. Unfortunately, she moved away last year to Los Angeles, but that didn’t stop us. We talked, and still do, almost everyday. I know everything that is going on in her life, and she knows everything that is going on in mine. This past Thanksgiving, I flew down to LA and spent the week with her and her family. I can not express to you the amount of love we have for each other; from the moment I stepped off of the plane, our friendship just resumed as if she had never moved (it still doesn’t even feel like she moved). On Thanksgiving day, Grace and I helped her mom cook. The three of us laughed and smiled that whole day. Fun is the only word I can describe that day with. I can’t even remember cooking with my own family like that. It was undoubtedly, one of the best weeks of my life.
There are some people that you are just meant to be friends with, even if it happens by accident; Grace and Ronan are just two examples of that. I have only known both of them for less than five years, but as Rabindranath Tagore said, “Depth of friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance.” So the answer to your question, what makes a friend a friend, is love. It is a special kind of love--a love where the word love isn’t strong enough.
REFLECT ON HOW OTHERS LIVE
This question caught my interest because everyone has a different interpretation of what life means. Some people might believe that life has no purpose while others continually search for spiritual meaning. I like the complexity of the topic, because I don't believe there’s one right answer. People since the beginning of humanity have been searching for answers, and we’ll probably keep searching forever.
I don’t know what the purpose of life is, but I think that people ask this question to find meaning for their lives. How they find that meaning depends on their belief systems. Humans seem to need direct answers to complicated topics more than any other creatures.
I have noticed that humans appear to wonder about topics like life more than other creatures. Although we have no way of knowing for sure, animals seem to focus on day to day life and survival. A possible explanation for why people might seek more intricate answers for these kinds of topics could be boredom and fear. Technology has made physical survival less difficult, for fortunate people, than it was in the past. For that reason, the average person doesn’t have to work as hard to stay alive and obtain basic necessities. For humans who do indeed struggle for their lives, religion can be a great comfort and provide explanations. For many, the reassurance that there may be some greater power could guide them through suffering. Unlucky people are not, however, the only ones who believe in a greater power.
Modern technology has allowed people to experience diverse parts of the world with its many cultures. Although some people do remain isolated from other belief systems, perhaps associating with different cultures can provide people with alternative perspectives. Before advanced technology and travel, humans lived in their separate communities, often with little connection or knowledge of the outside world. For instance, people in Alaska today can have a much better understanding of how people in Africa live than they would have had a hundred years ago. The ability to experience different places allows people to reflect on how others live. Some people may find meaning in other people’s beliefs.
My opinion about the purpose of life doesn’t necessarily need to be shared by other people. Everyone has their own interpretation of what life means to them: success, relationships, gaining knowledge, and so forth. There is no correct answer to this question, although it’s a prominent and significant one.
There were a lot of things I didn't understand when I was younger, like--what is the point of a mirror? Or why is it required by law to take some sort of martial arts class when you’re a child and only a child? I would ask my parents these questions, and they just frowned at me and said I’m too young to understand. I finally got an answer to my questions in 6th grade. In our social studies class we learned about the mirror and our reflections. The mirror is an alternate world that is the exact same as ours except for one thing: the people there have a different eye color. We have deep blue eyes that mimic a clear sky, and the reflections have crimson eyes that taunt flames. Every person has a reflection in the mirror that is no different from themselves other than their eye color. The most shocking thing in that class was finding out what a mirror is for. Everyone froze and touched their face they could imagine what they looked like because they have never seen themselves before. The teacher said, “Randomly you or your reflection will phase to the other world for a short time. When that happens you have a chance to kill your reflection and claim yourself.” Reality sunk in consuming the room under a blanket of misery and dread. Children were realizing why they were trained to kill from such a young age. Many snapped like dry twigs being thrown into a fire and started crying fearing that their lives were endangered. I just froze; I was terrified out of my mind. I would describe myself as a gopher quivering in my hole trying to hide from a ravenous dog that was digging up the ground. My mind was racing and it couldn't stop, I was thinking of every way to kill a person and how to do it.
That was six years ago, and my mind has calmed down since then. I am now 17-years-old and a junior in high school. In these six years many people from my class have gotten their reflection, and many have died to theirs. I still hadn’t seen mine yet and it makes me like a possum ready to flop down dead. I also learned you can’t get a job until you get a reflection, which angered me because I got my drivers license but couldn’t buy a car. My sister teased me a lot because she killed her reflection at age 13 and is now 14 years old. I remember when that happened. I was in my room and I heard a loud crack of a gun was fired; we had those around the house because my dad manufactured them for work. After that I heard her cheering and laughing like a group of kids gossiping. I found her in the bathroom staring at her face and smiling with a body right outside the door. That body was her reflection; it looked exactly like my sister. Looking at it made me feel icicles stabbing into my body, chilling me to the bone. How could my sister be happy after just killing someone but not any someone, her reflection? I was disgusted, and my fear of killing the reflection only grew.
Then one perfectly normal day, I was in my room doing homework and had an impulse to go grab a snack. As I stood up and turned around, my heart started to pound and my palms sweat. It was as if my body was being scorched by the sun and my heart berated by snow. A lone figure stood in the doorway, standing tall and thin. It had short brown hair that wasn’t combed and fingernails that had been chewed on many times. This male figure wore clothes that didn’t quite match and had lips scared from being bitten through. The slight tan of his mostly pale skin didn’t shine in the light, but simply outlined the skinniness of his features. But those eyes, they held the fire of glass smiths’ ovens and the glow of a ruby’s core. These eyes were piercing into me, burning into me and as if he was trying to brand me with his gaze. At the same time we took in ragged breaths, both trying to keep ourselves on our feet. We both quietly prepared ourselves and got in to our fighting stances, hands raised in front of our heads and knees bent. We tensed our thighs and knees, but loosening our ankles. This was it; all the training through my life has lead to this one moment. At the time I didn't realize it, but neither one of us wanted to fight. Something just drove us too; it could have been that we were told to kill our reflection, or we simply wanted to look at a mirror and see ourselves. We exchanged several blows, accumulating many bruises, but neither one were able to land anything serious. I felt so sick that I thought I was going to vomit. We kept at it for a couple of minutes until he spoke.
“Could we not do this please” his voice was quivering so much it was just barely understandable. This caught me off guard because that was exactly what I was thinking at the time. Lowering our hands, but still on edge, we looked at each other trying to think of what to say. He forced a smile and croaked “So...how are you doing,” obviously uncomfortable. I told him I was doing horrible. Somehow we managed to find our sense of humor and let out a loud laugh, but we laughed too loud. A few seconds later my sister walked in, wondering what was so funny. She looked around, then she realized what was going on. Fear spread across her face and she darted out of the room like a rabbit running from two hungry foxes. It then dawned on us what she was doing and we burst out of my room. But it was too late.
We panicked. I ran over to my sister, wrestled her down and choked her until she fell unconscious. My reflection was running around the house looking for all the guns. We both ended back up in my room panting like dogs. Our fear of one another had been replaced by fear of what the police would do to us. It’s against the law to interact with your reflection in any other way than a fight. My hand was shaking uncontrollably as I picked up one of the many guns my reflection had brought into the room. The air turned into maple syrup as I raised the gun. I could see every detail of his anxious face, the point of his chin, curve of the cheek bones, and the little bits of stubble that weren’t shaved off. I wondered if this was what it was like to look in a mirror. The feeling was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. But at the same time it was haunting and beautiful. How could you kill that--how could you kill something so amazing? I dropped the gun and fell to my knees. Tears drenched my eyes and soaked my face with grief. I looked up and my reflection was sniffling and crying along with me. For a split second, the only thing that existed was us, nothing else. In that moment they formed a bond suppressing their fears and relieving them from reality.
As fast as this bond formed, it disappeared. The police arrived, pouring in and grabbing a hold of us--two hyenas in a herd of buffalo, trampling on all the hope we had left. They pinned us down and flipped us on our backs. They do this so they can check our eye color and find out who the reflection is. I heard my reflection whispering, “Please stop, please stop” in time with the beat of my heart. An officer got up and told me he was going to do me a favor. I was confused about how they could help me. I broke the law and I was pinned down by them. The truth struck me when the officer drew his gun from its holster. The silvery gray shine of the weapon was one my father manufactured. Its short barrel looked upon my reflection in disgust and decided it had enough. The roar of the weapon was so loud it left a ringing in my ear that resonated into my brain.
The cops didn’t let me up until they removed the body. So when I got up, I looked to where my reflection had been lying. All that was left was a stain of blood so red it burned its way into my floor. The grief I felt was unbearable; it was a wound that would not close. But I remembered back when my sister killed her reflection how she was so intrigued by how she looked. She just sat in front of the mirror looking at herself. My curiosity took over, and I struggled to the bathroom. I felt weak so I had to take each step slowly. When I reached it, I looked at the mirror and saw the same rough face and unkempt hair. I saw my reflection right in front of me as if nothing had changed. But the one thing that was different were the two blue eyes staring back at me--blue eyes as deep as the ocean floor and as icy as the frost in Antarctica. These eyes were piercing into me like daggers daring me to look away. I couldn’t help myself--I smiled and laughed as if I was about to say a funny joke. Then I got a hold of myself and looked into those eyes and said, “Hi, nice to meet you Sage.”
“Lucy, hey, follow me. The thing I was talking to you about is right over here.” Lucy followed her to the far corner of the library. A square vent big enough for Lucy to fit in stood against the wall. It looked ordinary enough, but Gemma had quite the imagination.
Lucy studied the vent and said hesitantly, “It looks like a regular vent--there’s nothing scary about it, right?” Lucy knew Gemma liked making things up. Getting Lucy to believe silly things was a hobby of hers. She also knew that if she didn’t play along, Gemma would leave. Then she would be alone. Having a bossy friend was better than being alone.
“I told you. It’s in there. It lives in the vents. If you don’t believe me, I can just leave you here and you can find out yourself,” Gemma insisted.
“No, please don’t. I believe you. Let’s go somewhere else now. C’mon Gemma, I wanna do something else.”
Even though she knew it was foolish, she wanted to believe Gemma and her tales. It was fun, thinking of imaginary things, so she decided to play along.
The vent was at the very end of the public library building, in a dark corner surrounded by bookshelves. It was the perfect place to go and think up scary stories, or create imaginary monsters.
As the weeks of summer went by, Gemma filled Lucy with her superstitions of the creature in the vent. Lucy knew better--she was twelve, practically grown up, yet somehow Gemma’s stories had gotten to her. She started to believe, believe in the horrible creature that her friend told her of. How it took things away to nowhere, how big and mysterious it was. What once was Gemma’s monster soon became her own.
They visited the vent frequently. Each time, Lucy felt more afraid to go back. She was afraid of the monster; she was afraid that she would provoke it. But most of all, she was afraid she would understand it.
“Have you found a name for the monster yet?” Asked Lucy.
“No, I don’t have a good name yet. You should name it.” Gemma said.
“Really? I don’t think it should have a name. I think it will get mad.”
“It’s not going to get mad Lucy, Whatever, you don’t have to name it. But let’s go see it again.” Gemma then added in an excited whisper, “Maybe it can talk or something.” Come tomorrow evening, before the library closes so we can see it.”
“Ok sure, I’ll see you tomorrow,” Lucy said.
That evening Lucy went to sleep thinking of the monster. She woke up in the middle of the night with thoughts of it still in her head. It was as if the creature was calling to her.
All throughout the day, Lucy debated whether to see the monster or not, but it was too late to back down. Gemma being angry at her was not something she wanted. As evening fell and Lucy reluctantly made her way to the library, she felt the sudden urge to run. It felt as if the monster was taking over her mind.
“Hey Lucy, come on, I’ve been waiting.” Gemma said as she tugged her toward the back of the library.
“I don’t want to visit it Gemma--we should just leave it alone. Come on, I don’t like it here anymore.” Lucy could feel its power as she neared the vent. It was sickening, and horrible.
“Quit being so scared. If you don’t come I’ll leave you in the library with it overnight. Let’s learn more about it--it’s just a stupid monster, you shouldn’t be scared.”
“Stupid? That thing in the vent could take you away! You could get it mad. You’re the one being stupid.”
Gemma brought her to the vent. She could hear the monster stirring, waiting for her.
“Lucy, it’s just some pretend monster. You expect me to believe it's actually real? Stop being so dumb. It’s just a joke.”
Gemma sat and leaned against the vent, unworried about the creature inside of it. Lucy was shocked. Gemma didn’t even believe her! Gemma was the one who made her believe in the first place.
“A joke? What do you mean? It’s real! I thought you could feel it too.” How could Gemma not feel the monster? It was there; it was real.
“Feel it? I don’t know what you’re talking about Lucy, you’re being weird.”
“You said it was real. How can you not believe? You’re just a liar--it’s real and you know it!”
“No, it’s not! Come on--let’s stop fighting about this, you’re scaring me. I’m leaving Lucy.” Gemma started getting up, but before she could, the grate to the vent disappeared. A small hissing sound, and then she was pulled through the vent by a dark mist. She had vanished. Lucy stood frozen, staring at the place where Gemma had been just a moment ago.
“Try to be nice to each other.” Those are the words Chuck and Eddie constantly heard from their dad growing up. They’d usually ignore him, and as most siblings do, continue to argue over meaningless things. Their dad was out of the house the majority of the time, either on business trips or going out with friends and such. Their mom was absent for most of their lives, too. This is because one day when the two were young, she up and left. It was completely random, but they were able to let it go, partly because they were too young to understand what had happened.
Chuck is the older sibling, a junior in high school, while Eddie is just starting his high school career as a freshman. Chuck is a six-foot-three, blonde, pretty boy. Eddie is five-foot-eight, black-haired and scrawny. The two are nothing alike and Chuck is always picking on his little brother. In the mornings, Chuck will get up and turn on the water in the shower, but not get in. He’ll then stumble around the house like a bull in a china shop, trying very hard to be loud. Nine times out of ten, Eddie will be woken up by the bull and is never happy about it. Since he does it every morning, Eddie thinks it’s to spite him. On one of these mornings, he gets particularly enraged by Chuck.
When Chuck woke up this day, he decided to blast Kid Cudi by Playboi Carti on his speaker. Not only did this shock Eddie into waking up, but he also hated that song. He stormed out of his room and yelled, “Turn that off! It’s garbage!” Chuck doesn’t respond and Eddie doesn’t know if it’s because he’s pretending to not hear him or if the music is deafening him. Eddie repeats, “Turn that off!” Chuck still doesn’t respond. Now Eddie knows Chuck is ignoring him, so he takes Chuck’s speaker and throws it out the window.
Chuck says, “What are you doing? That costs money, bro!”
“And does my sleep and well being mean nothing to you?” asks Eddie.
Chuck replies, “I just wanted to listen to some music. You always sleep in too late anyways.”
“Why don’t you care?” says Eddie.
Chuck is silent and Eddie walks back into his room, giving his older brother a look of despair. He doesn’t try to go back to sleep, instead, he lies down and thinks. He can’t stop thinking about if Chuck cares about him or not. If he does care, is he just too clueless to realize how disruptive he is? What if he doesn’t care about me? He thought. This troubles Eddie’s clouded morning mind until Chuck opens the door to his room.
“Hey,” says Chuck.
“What’s up,” says Eddie, shakily.
“Quit moping around. If you want a ride to school you gotta go now,” says Chuck, slamming Eddie’s door as he leaves.
They both get in Chuck’s car and not a word is said by either sibling. The drive to school is the same. Only the quiet sound of Kid Cudi can be heard from the car’s speakers, and it was awful. Eddie believed Chuck was playing that song to annoy him even more, but he chose not to say anything. He thinks saying something would only make the situation worse. The song seemed to be playing over and over in Eddie’s mind, and it made the car ride brutal.
As Chuck is parking, he asks Eddie, “Hey, can you get out to make sure I’m not in the red?” Eddie is hesitant, but obeys and steps out of the car. As he goes to open the door to go back in the car and tell Chuck the car is parked fine, he hears a click. Eddie pulls on the car door handle but it won’t open. Chuck stares at Eddie with a grin on his face. It’s thirty degrees outside and Eddie doesn’t even have his bag for school.
Eddie yells, “Let me back in, Chuck! This isn’t funny!” Chuck continues to stare Eddie down with a terrible grin. Eddie decides to walk onto campus despite not having anything he needs for class because he knows Chuck isn’t going to unlock the doors.
The school day is rough for Eddie. He doesn’t have his homework, binders, notebooks, money or any food. He chose not to go to seventh-period because he would’ve gotten ridiculed by his teacher anyway. Instead, he came up with the idea to trash his brother's car to send a message. He wanted to go buy spray paint, but he didn’t have his wallet. His alternative was taking some paint from one of the art classes. He went to Mr. Beebe’s class because he knew he was chill, and was allowed to take a whole bucket of red paint and a brush. No questions were asked. Eddie approached Chuck’s car and realized he didn’t know what to put on it. He wanted to send a message, but what would that be? He thought for a while, almost too long for it was nearing the end of the school day, but Eddie figured out what to paint.
Once the bell rang, Chuck left his seventh-period class. Obscured by plants, Eddie watched him. Chuck said bye to his friends and walked to his parking spot. As he neared, he noticed his car looked a little different and he became concerned. His car was now in full view and Chuck was in shock. On the back window was written, “GO TO H*LL,” and across the hood, “DRIVE INTO THE RIVER.” Eddie couldn’t see Chuck’s face, but he hoped he was angry. He wanted Chuck to look weak and powerless. Finally, he had gotten revenge for this terrible day and all the years of torment along with it. When Chuck got in the car and drove away, Eddie got a glimpse of his face. However, Chuck’s expression was not what he was expecting. Chuck was crying. They weren’t tears of anger or shame, but of sorrow. Eddie could see the pain in his watery eyes, and it only confused him more.
Eddie’s heart slowly filled with regret. He couldn’t help but feel like what he did was wrong, despite all the things Chuck had done to him. He wanted to get in his brother's head, but seeing Chuck break down over it was too much. He ran home to tell his brother what he had done and to see if he was okay. We are brothers, after all, thought Eddie. As he was running, he couldn’t stop thinking about why Chuck was crying. The things I wrote were hurtful, but how did they get through Chuck’s rough exterior and cause him to shed tears? Eddie’s mind was not clear; it was once more filled with questions about Chuck that he craved answers for.
Eddie made it home after a solid four-minute run, and luckily Chuck’s car was parked in the driveway. He walked up the two steps leading to the house, opened the front door, and paced through the hallway until he reached Chuck’s room. He stared at the door for a few seconds before knocking three times. Chuck didn’t answer. Eddie was confused for a second, but he heard a familiar noise. It was running water from the shower. Eddie made his way over to the bathroom and said, “Chuck I’m sorry. I’ll clean your car later.”
“What you did was messed up. You’re gonna pay for it,” said Chuck.
His brother's words were menacing, but Eddie was determined to get his answers. “I saw you crying,” said Eddie, “why Chuck? Do you care about your car that much?”
Chuck could’ve said yes to that question, but he’d be lying. Chuck knew his brother would know he’s lying, so he decided to tell the truth. “It was the thing about the river. It brought back a memory I’ve been trying to put past me my whole life.”
“What happened with you and a river?” asked Eddie.
“It was so long ago,” said Chuck, “but it is more clear than glass in my mind. It happened nine years ago, almost to the day. It was very stormy and mom and I were walking home along the river back from elementary school. I don’t know if you remember, you were so young, but we had a dog named Buddy. I’d known him my whole life; he was my best friend. He was walking with us too, off-leash because he was a good boy, and I had his ball. Buddy loved that ball and would go after it no matter what. I loved to play with Buddy, so I threw his ball in hopes that he’d go and fetch it. But the ball hit an indent in the pavement and bounced into the river beside us. Buddy plunged himself into the water. He wanted to get his ball. Mom freaked and jumped in after him. The currents were strong, too strong. I just watched. I was frozen. Useless. I just watched it happen. I’ve never forgiven myself. I’m sorry you were never told what happened to her. Dad said it would be easier for you if you didn’t know. But now you do.”
It took Eddie a while to process what he’d just been told, but he had something to say to Chuck, “I can’t forgive you.”
The next morning Eddie woke up without commotion. He walked out of his room and looked at the driveway. Chuck’s car was gone. Eddie wondered where he could’ve gone. A sound could be heard from inside the house that drew Eddie’s attention. It was running water from the shower.
“AHHHH!” the lady jumped back as I turned the corner. Even with coats of makeup on, it was still apparent that I was a zombie. There goes nothing I guess. The lady looked to be in her mid 40’s with blonde, curly hair tied back. Her purse was falling off her shoulder as she ran from me shrieking. This was my sixth attempt of trying to look human and leave my zombie prison town. Okay, well I know it’s not a prison, but things there are rather bleak with all the dead people around and such. If only humans would just get over their stereotypes about us zombies, I wouldn’t have to live isolated with a bunch of ankle biters.
Before I was born, we had tried to live among humans, but as you can guess that was fairly difficult. Some of us didn’t have the greatest self control especially when a little hangry. So after years of humans trying to kill us and make us leave, we got the message and left on our own. We went to a secluded area of farmland in the middle of nowhere, away from any temptations. This was down in a remote corner of Southern California near the county of Corcoran. After migrating there, we decided to adopt new ways in hopes we could return eventually. We were forced to adapt to vegetarianism without a source of human flesh. Sometimes we would experiment with a squirrel or the unlucky field mouse, but mostly we had to stick with things we grew. You could say I was living here, but I felt dead inside. No pun intended. More than anything I dreamed of performing. Life without the thrill of being in front of an audience, and breathing the air of a new person, wasn’t worth living. I know, I know, it’s your typical pipe dream. But let a guy dream. If only this dream was a little more practical.
I sighed dramatically, and threw my hood back over my head. I should be getting back now. I turned back the way I came. As I turned, a flashing sign caught my eye. “IMPROV ACTING - FIRST CLASS FREE!” It was either play it safe and return to my monotonous world of the deceased, or take a chance. I opened the big, wooden door below the sign and stepped into a crowded, old theater. A man was standing on the stage applauding the group that had just exited.
“What a performance!” His voice boomed. I could tell by his presence on stage that he was comfortable. He was no amateur.
“Now for our next scene, I’m going to pick a few unfamiliar faces.” His eyes scanned the room until they landed on me. “Why you’re already in stage makeup--get on up here,” he gestured to me. “And you, and you.” He picked a few others. “Come on up--don’t be shy now,” he said reassuringly. I found my legs carrying me to the stage. Oh no, I thought, this could end very badly, but at the same time I felt more alive than ever.
“Annndddd, action!” the man called. Wow this is happening now. And to think this morning I chose to wear my old jeans, uhg.
“Ahhh!! Help!” one of the improv ladies screamed. This feels all too familiar I thought. At least I’m prepared for situations like this. The actors around me went with it and began yelping for help. Instantly I was in character, but my character was strangely close to the character I was forced to play off of a stage. I dragged my foot and put my hands up in front of me. Bleh this is so basic. Zombies aren’t like this! I wanted to scream at them, ‘this isn’t real, get over yourselves. We don’t want to eat your flesh that much!’ I’ve heard it tastes like squirrel actually.
“Brainsss, brainss,” I slurred. The actors stared at me with genuine fear. Maybe I was going a little far with this. I guess they hadn’t expected me to look this realistic. As I looked into their eyes, I could see the terror. This was too much; it wasn’t fun anymore. I broke the first rule of improv: I broke character.
“I have to make a confession. Us theater people, always being dramatic I know, but I assure you this is something you’ll want to hear. This isn’t stage makeup and this part isn’t just a character to me. Well kind of. You see, I’m a zombie. But wait, wait, don’t freak out. I’m a vegetarian.” Their faces showed a range of emotions: terrified, confused, amused. Some probably thought I was still in character.
“This is no longer my character. I assure you this is real, but you are in no danger. I’ve lived with my family and families like us, the dead kind, segregated from the real world, not too far from here, but far enough to stay hidden. I just can’t handle it anymore. I need to perform, and I need to talk to people, actual people!” The weight of a hundred lifeless zombies had been lifted off my back. It was replaced with an eerie sense of calm. Someone started to clap, and then others joined until the sound of applause filled the theater. They were clapping for me!
“You sure that wasn’t acting,” the man with the booming voice laughed, “because if it was you, just earned yourself a role in my next movie.”
“Afraid not, sir,” I forced a smile. I hope that didn’t look creepy. Zombies tend not to have the most attractive smiles. He looked as though he was wrapping his mind around the whole situation.
“Take your time,” I laughed. “It’s not every day a vegetarian zombie actor takes over your improv class. You’re actually handling it much better than I would have expected.”
“I guess as long as you’re not eating any of my paying customers, I have no problem with you...uh, what is your name anyway?” the man asked.
“Mac Anderson. And you don’t have to worry about the eating of humans, I’ve never even tried it. I’m a pure-bred vegetarian.” I replied.
“I’m Bruce Hudson. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He shook my hand.
The cold water numbs my bare feet as I float underneath the moon. Waves crash over my head; my long hair falling over my face. I resurface to the water and see them sitting around the burning fire. They are laughing. The wave to me and say something that I can’t quite hear. I barely raise my hand and try to laugh as well, but my mouth slowly fills with salty water.
I had many hopes for leaving Michigan and coming to California, but that night was not one of them. That night I threw away the morals my parents had taught me, and succumbed to my fate. It was mostly my fault, but part of it was theirs too. They were such nice people the day I came to my new school, Seaside High. They smiled at me as I walked through the halls and invited me to sit with them at lunch. They weren’t like the kids from Michigan at all where everyone laughed at me in gym class when I would trip, like I was a dog that had failed to catch a ball. I could hear them whispering about me in the halls when I couldn’t pass the swimming unit too, but I didn’t dare to stand up for myself because I would be ridiculed even more. I became sad--sad like my dog or my parents had died, but it was solely because of them, the ones I had once called my friends. The next thing I knew, I was out of that hell and on a plane to California. I was flying high above the earth, where none of them could reach me. I found myself as a whole new person as I made conversations with various people on my first day at Seaside. For the first time in a while, I had a group to sit with at lunch. They were so bright and happy. They threw their heads back and laughed at everything I said. For a second, I finally felt like that was where I belonged.
“So, what do you guys do for fun around here?” I asked. They looked around at each other in unison.
“Nothing much. There’s really not a whole lot of stuff to do except going to the beach. It’s the best at night.” One of them said. She was a very nice girl. Her long blonde hair and tan skin made her look like a stereotypical Californian. Suddenly, her eyes lit up with happiness and her voice gasped with surprise.
“I have a great idea,” she said boldly. “We are going to hang afterschool and then go to the beach tonight!” The others looked around at each other in awe with smiles on their faces.
“I’m in,” I said.
“Great, then it’s a plan,” she said. That lunch we walked out of the cafeteria like we didn’t have a care in the world, laughing and leaning on each others’ shoulders. I felt like I was on top of the world and nobody could bring me down.
Soon I was walking with the group down the middle of the street. We neared a house that belonged to one of the boys. The house was the color of hot sand on a beach and there were several colourful surfboards resting on a shed. As the door swung open, I was overwhelmed by his somewhat messy home, but a very cozy feeling as well. A tall, brown cabinet full of liquor caught my eye as I passed through the living room.
“We’ll get to that later,” he said motioning to it. Everyone laughed, so I laughed too. I figured he was just joking.
The record player was cranked up so loud that I felt like I was bouncing on a trampoline instead of just dancing on the floor of his room. The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Monkees echoed throughout the house. Each song made me so alive and happy. It was like the feeling of when the sun comes out after many days of clouds and rain. We were in our bare feet dancing wildly and bumping into each other, laughing at every collision. Our hands were in the air and our feet were jumping side to side, just six teenagers having a dance party. Soon everyone was tired and thirsty so the boy willingly went downstairs to get refreshments for everyone.
What he arrived with was not what I was expecting. The glass of three bottles of liquor clicked against each other as he arrived in the room. He tossed them to various people who immediately unscrewed the caps. They took a few sips and then passed them around the circle. When a bottle of vodka was passed to me, I hesitated.
“C’mon, have some. Live a little,” they all said to me. I smiled and brought the bottle to my lips to take a couple sips. I didn’t regret it then. Everyone’s doing it, so I should too, I thought to myself.
Time passed and I began to feel different. I was laughing harder than usual, and I couldn’t quite see what was in front of me. We found our way to the beach late at night after hours of lying on the floor and laughing hysterically.
The sand was cold. My toes felt like they were in a refrigerator as I walked down the beach with everyone. They tossed pieces of wood into a circle and lit it aflame. We all sat around the fire, and the heat it gave off warmed my feet. I stared into the center of the flames as we all huddled next to each other. The fire’s core was orange, then red with a tint of yellow and specks of blue could be seen. It’s color was changing like a chameleon. I was so focused on that fire until it occurred to me that one of the boys was trying to get my attention.
“Meghan,” he said from across the fire. “You should hop in the water-- the waves aren’t too big.”
“I’m kinda cold,” I said.
“It’s warm silly--this is California!” he said. His voice stretched across the beach as he yelled and laughed.
“C’mon Meg! You only live once! If you chicken out, you’re a wimp, ha ha ha ha!” he said. I started to stand up.
“Oh sure!” I said. I ran slowly to the ocean, laughing to myself. Once I reached the deep, blue sea, a small wave slowly crept to my toes and tickled them with somewhat warm water. In this moment I didn’t remember that I had never really been able to swim. I had never swam in an ocean in my life, just the pool at school where I never passed the swimming unit. My memory was blinded by the alcohol and the pressure from my new friends.
“Just dive in!” they all yelled at me. That's what I did. With my hands first I shot myself through the water; it instantly soaked through my clothes. I resurfaced and saw them on the beach. I could feel the sandy ocean floor on the tips of my toes. A wave crashed against my back and it was almost as if something was pulling me through the water, a current that I couldn’t resist. My hands were uselessly stroking through the water and my eyes were slightly stinging. But I kept laughing. They were laughing on the beach too. They were waving to me with both hands in the air, so I tried to do the same. My arms were weak and my legs barely moved through the water. I tried to float, but my muscles relaxed and I sank in further. I felt as if I was fighting the water at this point and I wanted to give up. Distracting my mind from staying afloat, they said something to me from the shore that I couldn’t quite make out. I wanted to know what they said so I opened my mouth to speak. A quiet voice, if anything, came out and water slowly filled my mouth. I needed to give up. I let my whole body relax and a feeling of relief and warmth came over me. The ocean had won our fight. My head was not above the water anymore and I couldn’t see a thing. It felt as if I had had a long day and was just going to sleep. Everything was black. I was floating lifeless through the water.
Soon I was being taken up into the air, leaving my body, my new friends, my family, and my life behind. Friends they were. They didn’t find me until the next day, but I don’t think I ever really found myself.
December 12, 2018
As I walk down the halls, I feel like I have a million eyes on me, everyone thinks of me as the girl whose sister killed herself. When I get towards my class, I hear two girls say,
“That's Emily’s sister. Apparently she was the one who found her dead in their bathroom.”
I then feel a pit inside my stomach and have no idea how to react. I walk into my science class and sit in the back. The teacher starts class and then over the loudspeaker I hear, “Students this is Principal Johnson speaking. I would like to give this time to take a moment of silence for Emily Willson”
Then I feel 30 faces turn towards me and I just look down while a tear falls down on my paper. My mom told me to stay strong even though I know she has the same feeling of pain as I do. I know she feels the grief and sadness of Emily’s death. My sister killed herself and none of us thought she was feeling so sad inside. I sometimes even think its my fault she did. Maybe I hadn't been there to help her. I've been off hanging out with friends while she was feeling alone and hopeless. How I wish that I could just go back in time and prevent this from happening.
As far as I could remember, Emily was the rock of our family. She was the one who always had a smile on her face and put others before herself. When our Dad left the family, Emily would always look at the positive side of life. She would make me feel happy even when things were going bad for the family. Emily was very studious, cared about her grades, and she was passionate about soccer. She applied for many colleges such as Penn State, USC, and Stanford. Her dream school has always been Penn State and when she found out she got accepted, she was the happiest I have ever seen her. Emily was the brightest person I knew and no one saw this tragedy coming.
February 2, 2018
As Emily and I come back from soccer practice, we pull in seeing a bunch of our Dad’s belongings spread out on our lawn. We get inside and hear my mom screaming,
“I can't believe you would ever do this to me and the family!”
Emily goes up to our mom and asks what happened with dad? And why is all of his stuff outside?” My mom than gets up and says,”Your father had an affair with his coworker.”
I then just dropped all of my things on the floor and ran up to my room sobbing. I get a knock on my door and then my dad walks in.
“How could you do this to Mom? What's wrong with you!” I say while sobbing.
“I can't explain how this happened, but I have decided that it's best for me to go and leave your mother.”
When he finishes saying that, he walks out and that was the last time I saw him since. Our family was now broken into pieces. That night, Emily and I slept in with our mom and did not speak anything of it.
The next morning in true Emily style, she wakes up early and makes a full breakfast for me and my mom. That's what I loved about Emily. She always went out of her way to make others happy.
The next few weeks were rough at the house. My mom would always go straight to her room right after work. Emily and I would always make dinner every night because my mom would never have the energy to get out of bed. I would always look forward to that everyday because I would get to spend quality time with my sister and she was the one person who would help me get my mind off the situation. As time went on, my mom would become more and more happy and Emily was always the one who would make that happen.
Life seemed like it was getting back to normal, even though we missed our dad more than anything. Emily met this guy named Troy and then started dating him. We would play soccer all the time. I was on JV and Emily was the captain of the varsity soccer team at our high school.
Soon it was summer and I finally turned 16 and started to become more independent. I got my first car and I felt like I could have some freedom. I would spend my weekends with my friends, driving while listening to music, going to the beach, and going to parties. It was just overall a great summer.
One night, I was getting ready to go out with some friends, I walked by Emily’s room and it sounded like she was crying. I then just walked away, not even checking in on her. I will always regret this night. Emily would never have left me if she knew I was alone crying. I soon found out that her boyfriend had cheated on her. Then things started to go downhill for Emily. Before Troy cheated on her, the only thing she would talk about is how she was so excited to start Penn State. But then I rarely heard anything about it anymore. Then one night, my mom came in and told me that Emily will not be going to Penn State anymore because she thinks it would be better if she is home with us. I was so shocked, but never said anything about it to Emily.
The next week Emily started going to the local Junior College. She knew a few kids from our school and seemed to be settling in to her new life. I was starting my junior year of high school and was starting to look at colleges myself. Things seemed good in our home, but not perfect or how they used to be when my Dad lived with us.
November 30th, 2018
My alarm went off at 7:00 a.m. and I started getting ready for school. I went downstairs to join my Mom and Emily for breakfast, like we did every morning. This was one time every day that we could all be together and catch up. Normally, Emily was filled with stories and happiness, but this particular morning, she seemed...not herself. I thought perhaps she was just stressed out about mid-terms and school in general. She was so quiet that morning that it felt like she wasn’t even there. When we all went our separate ways that morning, I felt that something was really off with Emily. I should have checked in on her throughout the day, but I was so preoccupied with school and my friends that I selfishly forgot about her.
December 1st, 2018
I woke up late and didn’t have time to have breakfast with my family. I gave my Mom and Emily a quick kiss and ran out the door to make the bus. School was fun that day. I found out that I made captain of the varsity soccer team. I couldn’t wait to tell Emily. She was going to be so excited and proud of me. I made the early bus and ran to the front door. It is usually unlocked because Emily gets home before I do, but today it was locked. I get my key out and unlock the front door. I burst through the door yelling, “Emily, Emily, where are you? I have the most exciting news ever!” I run upstairs and see the bathroom door slightly cracked open. I knock on the bathroom door and it opens and I see Emily lying on the floor unconscious. I scream hysterically and start shaking Emily. I feel a rush of emotions hit me all at once. I then start sobbing and shaking.
“This can’t be happening-- Emily please wake up.” But she doesn’t move at all.
I grab my phone and dial 911. I tell the operator that my sister isn’t breathing and that she may be dead. I turn to the right and see an empty bottle of sleeping pills. I am now crying hysterically on top of Emily. Ten minutes later the ambulance and police arrive and run up the stairs. They move me out of the bathroom and told me to phone my Mom. I am shaking and freaking out.
My Mom answers the phone and has no idea why I am crying and screaming.
“Mom, something terrible has happened to Emily and you need to come home right away.”
I hang up the phone, and she keeps calling back. I don’t know how to tell her, so I don’t pick up her call. My Mom arrives moments later to find an ambulance and the police at our home, carrying out my sister in a body bag. A police officer pulls my Mom aside and tells her that her daughter has committed suicide. I will never forget the look on my Mom’s face as her paralized body falls into the police officer’s arms. I run to her and we hold each tightly for what feels like forever.
December 15th, 2018
I wake up knowing that today is the final day I can say my goodbyes to my sister Emily. She was my best friend and I don’t know if I am ready to say goodbye. My Mom and I drive alone to the funeral home. The entire school is there. We walk in and approach the open casket. I haven’t seen my sister’s face since the day she died. She looks different, pale and lifeless. I sit next to my Mom in the front row and notice an open seat next to me. The service is about to start and I hear a set of footsteps walking down the aisle. I turn around and see my Dad. He is so pale that he looks like a ghost. He sits next to me and all I can do is cry into his arms. My Dad reaches out to hold my Mom’s hand, and she grabs his hand back. We are all sobbing as the service begins. My Mom had put together a slideshow of Emily’s life that really showed what a special person she was. So full of life and joy. How could she have taken her life? What could have happened over those last few days? This is something I will never get, nor have closure on.
My sister would always say you will get through anything no matter what. However, I will never be able to get through this without her by my side. But I know she would want me to live my life with the same joy and happiness that she had and shared with everyone that she encountered.
December 1st, 2019
It has been a year since Emily died, and my Mom and I are still trying to cope with our loss. We go and visit Emily’s grave site every Sunday and tell her about how our week has been. Emily will always be a part of our lives no matter what, and her legacy will live on forever.
My Mom and I have recently started working with the suicide prevention hotline program to try and help people who have suicidal thoughts and may suffer from depression. I have decided that when I go to college I want to study psychology and become a youth therapist. I miss my sister so much every day and I know that if she was here with us she would be so proud of me.
Thank you Emily for making me who I am today, and I miss you every waking minute.
I will never take anyone for granted again.
Throughout the history of humanity we have segregated and divided ourselves based on minute differences and similarities. These factors can take the form of race, culture, gender, family name, and countless other traits. These divisions inevitably lead to hatred, persecution, and violence. In Romeo and Juliet the lovers were forced apart by the feud between their families, a feud maintained only out of hatred of the opposition’s name. I chose this topic because not only is it critically important to Romeo and Juliet but also it is a defining factor of how human society functions.
Even in the beginning of the play we are informed that there is a bloody feud between the Montagues, the family in which Romeo was born, and the Capulets, Juliet's family. This feud has claimed many lives, although there is no apparent reason for the feud asides from the differences in name, and the hatred that has developed for that dreaded name in the opposing family. In the play Romeo and Juliet fall in love even though they are from the opposing families. As a result the lovers are forced to act only in secrecy as detection would likely mean death. Throughout the play the lovers voice their discontent and hatred of the feud and speak of its stupidity. For example Juliet says in act 3: “Tis but thy name that is my enemy. Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet. So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called, Retain that dear perfection which he owes Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, And for that name, which is no part of thee Take all myself.” In this she explains that the only thing keeping them apart is the abstract notion of a name, something that has no mark on their character yet defines how they live and eventually how they will die. Yet even though the two lovers may have abandoned the confines of their name, the rest of the world has not. As a result of their love they are forced to take drastic action which leads to their tragic deaths, all because of the names they bore.
Just as a name defined the protagonists of Romeo and Juliet, differences define the lives of millions of people across the world. In Rwanda Hutu and Tutsi, largely manufactured ethnic groups with little to no physical differences, have long oppresed each other solely because of the named they were branded with at birth. For centuries the Tutsi oppressed the Hutu and treated them like slaves, this practice only strengthened by European colonists attempts to strengthen their position while weakening that of the natives. Then when the Hutu seized power, a great retribution took place where over a million Tutsi were murdered by the Hutu. Very few of these Tutsi were responsible for the wrongs to the Hutu, but they were still killed purely because of their name, manufactured and artificial label. This hatred of those in an opposing group, of those with another name race or trait, has fueled some of the greatest horrors in history. From the Holocaust to Romeo and Juliet, people are defined and persicuted purely for abstract charesterics.
Humanity has made great strides in inclusion and the breaking down of group barriers over the last century; however total victory is impossible. All of society is structured around different and distinct groups working in tandem to achieve a goal. Most of the time this can lead to great good, but it also has the possibility of great evil. From the racial based discrimination of supremacy organizations, to financial based discrimination of people of all classes by the others, there will always be division and segregation. It is like a hydra, when one group is blended into others two more will take its place. Although there will always be divisiveness, we can work to make our society better and decrease the rampant hatred and division we experience today. The best way to do this is to connect and meet with people of other groups; this allows them to see that you are a human and not just a label or a name.This can also provide the same service for you in turn, greatly widening your world view. In the end people are for the most part good and honest, they just want the best for the people they love. However, they are often led astray by those who have been hurt and are unloved.
The essential question asking are we controlled by fate or free will grabbed my attention because I think about this kind of thing a lot. I believe that there are many different unseen and seen forces that play into our everyday lives.
In Romeo and Juliet, there were many things that played into the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet. I believe that it wasn't fate or misfortune, but simply a series of deeply unfortunate events (mostly poor communication) that killed them. If even one of the servants knew how to read or if Juliet felt comfortable speaking honestly to her parents, the whole story would change drastically. Romeo and Juliet died because of free will, not fate. While free will is a truly amazing thing, power does corrupt as C.S. Lewis said “evil comes from the abuse of free will.”
I believe that people are controlled by actions and reactions. We are controlled by our own reactions and actions in addition to those of others. This is the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle states that for a good majority of events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the cause. In other words, everything is 80% reaction and 20% action. 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. While you can't always control your circumstances, you can always control your reactions. I believe that this proves that you make of life what you will and we control our destinies. Our reactions shape our identities and who we are as people.
Of course, human beings aren’t all powerful and there are many things we can’t control, like natural disasters. The question is, are these outside forces fated or are they just another series of actions performed by objects or elements? Does everything happen a certain way for a reason and that’s just the way it is or is fate malleable like clay and everything slowly takes form after a series of unpredictable events? This brings into question reality. Are there billions of realities in which the smallest of actions could have been performed differently or neglected entirely and the whole world is changed forever or is everything set in stone and this is the only reality?
As it is such a flexible and controversial topic, many different philosophers and intellectuals have differing opinions on the subject of free will. For example, Stephen Hawking said, “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” While Scott Adams said, “Free will is an illusion. People always choose the perceived path of greatest pleasure.” These people mean that even your beliefs on the subject are corrupted by our need to live up to our preconceived notions of greatness and our animalistic survival instinct.
Free will controls our lives. Our actions and reactions affect ourselves just as much as the ones around us. The butterfly effect is quite real and people are all connected in a complicated web of actions and reactions. Our choices and reactions shape who we are as people just as much as they become us. As R.A. Delmonico said “free will is factual.”
Names and labels can be used as identifying factors in one’s life, even if the placed identity isn’t true to who they are. I chose the essential question, What’s in a Name? because it reoccurs throughout the novel, Romeo and Juliet, and it is often recognized in the world today.
In Romeo and Juliet, the essential question, What’s in a Name?, is often brought up. A main factor of the story is that there are two families, Capulet and Montague, who have been in a feud for many years. This feud has disrupted their town multiple times, and everyone knows about the division created between the families. The feud created this unspoken rule where anyone with the name Capulet, is forbidden to have any type of positive relationship with anyone named Montague. This “rule” is also applied for anyone born into each family. When Romeo and Juliet meet, some might say they experienced love at first sight. Juliet fell in love with Romeo without knowing that his name, and they fell in love with the other’s organic self. When they discovered each other’s names, their love suddenly became forbidden. One small factor of their identity ruled over what choices they could make, and created a huge division in their love. When Romeo and Juliet were born into those certain families, they already had expectations set on them that they couldn’t change, or didn’t have a say in. It was like they were born into a category that they couldn’t break out of. A name is such a small piece of one's identity, but in the novel, those two names controlled and affected the lives of many.
In the world today, many people are identified or put into groups, based off of small factors of their identity. Whether it be the way they look, or even who they’re friends with, people are constantly divided up into categories. This has created many separations and divisions in society. There are so many stereotypes floating around that it's unlikely to see someone who doesn’t fit into a stereotype, and many people subconsciously place others into these stereotypes. The groups and stereotypes that people are categorized into can set certain expectations on how they should act, but most of these groups are created based on the outermost layer of someone, not who they truly are. This can result in people getting categorized into groups might express a different identity than how they truly feel.
In Romeo and Juliet, Romeo and Juliet were separated by their two families that were in a fued. This created certain divisions and expectations in the families that we can similarly see in society today, with stereotypes and categories. I wonder if everyone in the world looked through certain lenses where differences couldn’t be categorized, would these set “rules” in society be different?
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