Have you ever had one of those days that just makes you realize how blessed you are? Well today was like that for me. I have friends that are being forced to deal with problems that no teenager should have to face alone. It just made me take a good look at my life and realize how good I have it. Just having two parents who love eachother and me puts me in a minority of the world’s population. Their support has allowed me to go to college, pursue numerous weird hobbies and become someone I hope they are proud of. I’ve realized that my life so far has been pretty easy.
Then I wonder: Why me? Why did God give me this wonderful life and not the girl across town? I am not any more deserving of it than another person. One thing keeps coming to mind as I think about this: To whom much is given, much is expected. In recognizing that I am blessed, it is important to see others have not been so lucky. If I have the opportunity and resources to help them, I should.
I just spoke on the phone with the man that is going to help me go to Africa. Even as I write these words my heart is still pounding from the excitement and I cannot quite believe this is really happening. Through nothing less than divine providence a series of events has fallen into place that will allow me to teach English in Tanzania next summer. Did I mention how excited I am?!?!
About a month ago my grandmother attended a talk given by a professor who leads trips to Zanzibar, Tanzania. Knowing of my obsession with Africa, she made sure to ask him for a business card. Knowing little of this man, other than the fact that he could perhaps help me achieve my dreams, I emailed him and eagerly awaited a response. As soon as he explained that there might be an opportunity to teach English, I was hooked. After a few days of phone tag I have finally spoken to him and know the concrete steps to get me where I want to go.
He asked me the question which has been plagueing me lately. Why Africa? I stumbled over the words to describe the longing I felt and yet again, failed. The writer within me is going to have to drag those words out of my heart and mind though, even if they come kicking and screaming. One of the hoops I must leap through on this journey is to write a letter of intent, of sorts, as to why I want to embark on this endeavor. My motives will be laid bare for the world to see and I hope they are up to the scrutiny of questioning eyes.
Here’s some proof of my theory that spell check is responsible for the detoriation of correct spelling in our society. I found this poem online. Although it doesn’t make much sense and there is incorrect usage galore, spell check said every word was spelled right, making it okay.
Ode to a SpellChecker
I have a spelling checker
I disk covered four my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot see.
Eye ran this poem threw it.
Your sure real glad two no.
Its very polished in its weigh,
My checker tolled me sew.
A checker is a blessing.
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when aye rime.
Each frays comes posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o’er every word
To cheque sum spelling rule.
Bee fore wee rote with checkers
Hour spelling was inn deck line,
Butt now when wee dew have a laps,
Wee are not maid too wine.
And now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
There are know faults in awl this peace,
Of nun eye am a wear.
To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should be proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaws are knot aloud.
That’s why eye brake in two averse
Caws Eye dew want too please.
Sow glad eye yam that aye did bye
This soft wear four pea seas.
Yesterday morning I sat down to enjoy breakfast at the hotel I stayed at for the weekend. When I grabbed the syrup for my waffle the perfect peace was shattered. Behind the regular syrup that I picked up was a container of sugar free syrup that the hotel staff was considerate enough to put out for their residents with health concerns. This well meaning display was destroyed by the atrocious spelling that told me it was sugEr free syrup. I was flabbergasted; absolutely and completely speechless.
After the syrup nearly gave me a heart attack, I decided to risk taking a peek at the other various condiments on the table. I thought there was no way they could mess up salt and pepper. I was very, very wrong. To my horror what I thought to be pepper turned out to be pApper. Declaring that I could no longer stay in the presence of such obvious spelling errors, I abruptly left the room. Only because I am a dedicated blogger did I return to the scene to take a picture of these atrocities.
I couldn’t help but think that this was a frightening sign of where our society is heading. The attention paid to the importance of correct spelling and grammar is going downhill fast. This hotel is only a snapshot of what is happening all over our country. I blame spell check. There is no longer a need to know how to spell. That handy little tool in Word will tell you with a helpful red line that you have made a mistake and help you fix it. With America’s overwhelming use of computers, the few times we do handwrite things we stumble over spellings and commit simple errors.
I suppose the average person really does not care too much about spelling and grammar. I believe it is a comment on a company though, such as this hotel, if there are misspellings in its public signs and labels. For me, it says that the company is sloppy or just too cheap to hire a proofreader.
As I left this motel of misspellings I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of its name: The Quality Inn. The hotel itself was perfectly fine, but the quality of its spelling was, well, not of such high quality.
All I can think about right now is how stupidly expensive it is to get to Africa. I want to go help people, make the world better in some small way. It’s just annoying that money is the one thing that might keep me from going. If I am meant to go though, God will make it happen. For example, my Grandmother met this random person the other day that takes group of College kids to Tanzania. I have yet to find out how much it will cost but if that’s not divine intervention, I don’t know what is.
People ask me why I want to go to Africa and I honestly can’t give them a concrete reason. Perhaps superficially it’s because that’s the continent that is stereotypically associated with poverty. This is not without reason though. Most of the world’s poorest countries are located there. I just did a quick search for some statistics on this and the results were astounding. According to the United Nations the top ten poorest countries in the world are all in Africa (http://www.economywatch.com/economies-in-top/poorest-countries-of-world.html). Maybe the appeal is in the exotic and foreign nature of African culture. Whatever the reason is, I can’t pin it down. I just know that when I think about travelling there or research volunteer programs this bubble of warmth wells up inside me and it just feels…right.
Start your story with, “In retrospect, I wouldn’t say it was my best idea.” And end it with, “And that’s how I attempted to make this world a better place.”
In retrospect, I wouldn’t say it was my best idea. I was one of those kids. My mom would tell me to finish all my food because there are starving children in Africa who would love that broccoli. Wisacre that I was, I’d tell her to send it to them. Well one day I decided that this had gone on long enough and it was time to take matters into my own hands. It started out as a furtive attempt to make good on my suggestion. I couldn’t believe that some kid in Africa would really want my leftover broccoli but mom insisted that they did and she knew everything, right? Well that plan came to a screeching halt when I realized that I had no idea where to send the food. Also, the smell in my room kind of ruined the secret after a few days.
Then the all knowing and all powerful television gave me the perfect solution to my dilemma. This was more exciting than finding out that the Easter Bunny really does exist. And I LOVE bunnies. “Mommy! We have to call now!” “What are you talking about honey?” “We can help the starving kids. The ones I was going to send my broccoli to. It only costs one dollar.” “Oh sweetie, it’s probably just a scam.” “What’s a scam mommy? Will it help those kids?” “No, it means that the money they’re asking for might not really go to those kids you see on tv.” My nine year old face scrunched up in confusion over how weird grownups were sometimes. My hope was rekindled when she reassured me, “there are people you can give money to who will actually give it to the kids who need help.”
Now only one obstacle stood in my way.
“What are you doing?” My father demanded. He had a lovely view of the lower portion of my body because the rest was stuck under the couch. My muffled voice floated out and informed him in a very matter of fact tone, “I read that the average family has ten dollars in their couch. I need money to send to the starving kids in Africa.” He began laughing and then called, “Peg! You’ve got to come see this!”
And that’s how I attempted to make this world a better place.
This came from a Writer’s Digest prompt: Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.” What is writing like? Write a simile that starts with the phrase, “Writing is like … .”
Writing is like doing a puzzle; you have to find the perfect piece to complete it and create something beautiful.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seriously pondered this question but this really is the perfect analogy. I can spend hours trying to find the perfect words to say what I want to. It is just like searching for a puzzle piece. And of course, only one specific piece fits in each space. I honestly believe there is no greater joy than finding the right word to complete a sentence and knowing that you have written something brilliant. Even more amazing is the fact that if you can find that right word and put i exactly in the right place you can say so much in one simple sentence.
Although I don’t particularly enjoy his writing, Mark Twain did say some intelligent things. We seem to agree on this subject at least. “To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.” – Mark Twain
I am emotionally numb; detached from the world. I have to be or all the horrors and injustices I see would scar me personally. Pondering too long creates a feeling of desolate helplessness with all the badness, violence and oppression in the world. How can a person like me possibly make a difference? I’m innocent and ignorant; I’ve never experienced anything like persecution or torture. I’m crying out to God to give me some direction because I can’t save the world by myself. I’m begging him to give me a personal mission. Take my measly life and lead me to that one child whose life I can change. I don’t want to sit in class presentations anymore and hear about the plight of the poor. I get it!! Now let me go do something about it.
I look up and orange highlighter catches my eye. It illuminates a sentence that reminds me: “We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing it.”
Prophets of a Future Not Our Own
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
There is an African philosophy called Ubuntu that has been on my mind lately. It means “I am what I am because of who we all are”.
Desmond Tutu has this to say about it:
“It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”
Essientially, ubuntu means realizing that we are all connected and that our actions really do affect others. One very sad truth that I am coming to realize is that in general, people are apathetic. This seems to be especially true of my generation. We don’t care that a million children in Malawi are orphans or that most of them will go without a meal today. We don’t care because we have never experienced this tragedy first hand and it simply does not affect our everyday life. If everyone was to adopt the philosophy of Ubuntu this attitude would be drastically changed.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the idea of Ubuntu exactly means but it seems infinitely important to me that we understand how connected we are as a human family. “I am what I am because of who we all are”.
Hello! Welcome to my blog and thank you for visiting it. I’m new to this so just bear with me while I learn the ropes.
I suppose for the first blog I can tell you a little bit about myself. You may have gathered from the title that I am a writer. You’re one smart cookie! My mom told me the other day that your passion is whatever keeps you up at night. Well if this is true, then everyone in my household knows what my passion is. For some reason the part of my brain that comes up with ideas for poems and stories is most active at night. God also made me very, very forgetful. Because of this, I cannot go to sleep until all my brilliant ideas are committed to paper(or computer). Anyway, I suppose this means my passion is writing. I had my sneaking suspicions but now I guess it’s proven.
Despite my rambling here there really is a purpose for my writing. Getting down to the bare bones, my cause is the glorification of God through all that I do. I also want to make a difference in the world. I participate in a lot of community service activities and hope to show people the injustices that I experience through my writing. Maybe I can even inspire others to take action.