"Explosive Nature" by JP Collins '19
I pulled on more layers before I stepped through the threshold. I looked up at a branch clinging hopelessly about two-thirds of the way up a tree, remembering the storm that had disturbed its grip. A tempest wind had rolled up, spitting in disgust-- then deceived and swayed the limb to tear from the sturdy, wise oak-- and the pounding rain brought chaos. Now, only a fork in the tree held onto the branch’s entangled fingers and it hung limp, unsure of how to continue. As a young child, my mother told me not to stare at weakness; why, then, did the struggling limb absorb my eyes?
My father and I pulled the limb down with a well-thrown line. The terrified branch came crashing down thirty feet, and appeared much larger than I first thought. It lay motionless as we leaned over its broken frame. My father suggested we cut up the large heap of wood, and we quickly got to work. Later, when the night assumed its watch, my sister and I dragged the branches and carried the logs over to the pit, where we piled them in preparation for the fire. Starting with small twigs, we nurtured a flame and then threw in a few branches from the fallen limb. As the bark began to peel and the flames licked the fresh wood, we sat around enjoying the warmth. The sap, which remained trapped within the fibers and strands of life, warmed. We were transfixed as the tree’s blood began to boil. The sap screamed and exploded from within the embers of the fire, releasing steam and an ear-splitting pop.
Each shout interrupted our warm conversation and we stood amazed by the brutality of it all, unaware when the fire would next react. That small limb, dropped from the crown of his safe tree-branch was out of harmony and now susceptible to harm. We had unknowingly taken advantage to the highest extreme from the moment we saw it stranded in the tree. When I first saw the wavering limb, I thought we were fixing the situation, rescuing the limb from danger. But perhaps she would have attained peace if we had left and never looked up.
I think back to the streets of Boston, a hub of rushing, busy, hardened people; we join those crowds from time to time. A homeless person crouches on the street and we dart our eyes to avoid contact and never look down. We know our mistakes, but not enough to stop them. When should we look up? When should we not? We must look through their eyes to understand their need and not work to fulfill our own ego. The branches and logs are exhausted of moisture and life. The man’s arms reach out for a dollar, then drop as we sweep past. The final, weak cries diffuse and are lost in the night sky. Only the ashes remain.
"The Definition of Wellness" by Steve Rosario '21
What is wellness? Wellness is a part of our intricate, intertwined life that should be one of our most important things to achieve. Wellness is being centered in body, mind, and spirit. These three qualities are the basis of how we live life: body, our physical state, mind, our mental wellbeing, and spirit, our connection with those around us and with God. It is important to be balanced in all these aspects in order to live a healthy and fruitful life.
Being centered in the body means that you are physically balanced. Most people who see the Wellness Center can identify this aspect clearly. When they look at the swimming pool, the gym, the basketball court, the running tracks and the new turf field, they would instantly think “these boys sure know how to stay fit”. However, being centered in body goes further than being athletically fit, it is having the will to take on any challenges, whether it be as thrilling as white water rafting or as tedious as writing a test. No matter what the task, you will do it, and, more often than not, the goodness can come forth so you and others can enjoy it.
The ability to cope with mental challenges is being centered in mind. It means that we will not succumb to forces that pull and nag at our thoughts every day and try to divert us from what we are doing. These forces seem to come from all directions: things our friends and family say, what we hear from the media, etc. It can all affect our thoughts in both positive and negative ways. However, the result is the same: we do not give our full attention to what we are doing. Someone who is centered in mind can overcome these forces and focus on the now. That person can shut out the distractions, the opinions, the busyness of it all and appreciate the beauty of what is right in front of them. Even if it is as small as a strawberry amid all the hustle and bustle of life, that person can still extract the wonder in it and enjoy it.
Being centered in the spirit creates your connection with what you believe. This implies the relationship to God. It shows to others what you believe and why you believe it. Others who look at you can say “he has an enthusiastic spirit”. If you have a positive spirit, then it will radiate to surrounding people, making their day better. If someone is having a bad day, you do not need to always offer them emotional help, just keep a positive attitude, give them a pat on the back, give them warm handshake, and the other person will naturally feel better.
Having a life centered in body, mind, and spirit is crucial to achieve wellness along with a nutritious diet and good physical activity or sport. We must try to live a balanced life with a strong body, willing to take on challenges and to try something new, a focused mind that is based on the present, not the past or the future, and a spirit, devoted to God. This is what I believe is the true definition of Wellness.
"The Memory of Music" by Bill Wang '18
I can’t say I’m the craziest enthusiast for music in the world. I do listen to music all the time, but I have to admit that I know little about it, and I even don’t think I’m qualified to state that I have a distinct taste for music. But what I have just said does not indicate that music is not important for me. On the contrary, music, in my opinion, has great significance. Life is full of beautiful memories; however, even the most unforgettable ones can fade. Fortunately, there is music, a bridge that connects me and my past memories. And some songs in particular are reminders that are able to make the images of the “good (or bad) old days” vivid again every time they are played.
In China, students don’t switch rooms for each class; a completely same group of people sit together and live together every single day for the entire three years of middle school. So it was fairly natural that we were all friends, or even families some may say, considering the fact that we probably spent more time with each other than with our parents. And there is that song, Na Xie Nian, the theme song of a movie that tells a story of love, and a movie that we all resonate with. Just as the title literally means “those years” in Chinese, whenever I hear it, the picture of that old white building mixed with all sorts of happiness, sadness, excitement, and disappointment emerges in my mind. I can’t help myself but see those beautiful moments living through: playing a 1-on-1 basketball game with my best friend, utilizing the only ten minutes break that we got between two classes; telling a joke that brought laughs to everyone except the teacher; worrying about being ashamed to perform a short English skit in front of my classmates -- it was “a barrier that can not be crossed” back then, but now it’s just a precious memory to laugh about. It’s hard for me to not fall in sentiment when I hear the song, thinking about how beautiful the past was, and sometimes question myself: did I make the right decision to study abroad in the U.S. at such a young age? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to this question. Surely, attending an American high school gave me a much better chance to go to a good college, but no matter how similar American culture is to Chinese culture, there are still huge differences that can not be overlooked. As much as I have gained academically, I feel like I have lost the same amount emotionally. To me, Na Xie Nian is not only the theme song of a movie, it is the theme song of my middle school class, the theme song of my youth.
If I were to name the most memorable event of my middle school career, the school-hosted basketball game would easily be the one. I didn’t start playing basketball until I was in middle school, so although I was already a solid player thanks to practice by the time the competition took place, I did not have much confidence. I was really nervous about the game. On game days, I couldn’t even concentrate on classes, all I was thinking about was the game. Luckily, there was a song that I could listen to before every game, it was called Ji Ke Chu Fa; my English translation of the title would be “start fighting right now”. The song was truly passionate and powerful, its intense rhythm, combined with the excitement-provoking lyrics was the best medicine that not only release my stress, but also gave me the courage to play the game with full of confidence. Today, though, when I hear this song, it can still bring me the same level of excitement, but more importantly, it makes me recall the battles that I fought along with my brothers. I see that mottled court, those colorful sneakers; I cheer for our amazing victories and sigh for our lamentable defeats. Scenes of the past rose before my eyes, as if they were just there yesterday.
Music helps people go through heartbreak, I used to not believe in that, until it actually worked on me. There was a girl in my middle school, she sat right behind me for almost one year. We were best friends. We played basketball together occasionally and we joked around all the time. Although our friendship was special and sometimes even slightly “ambiguous”. I never seriously considered furthering our relationship. First, I was afraid of losing our precious friendship, and more importantly, she was very popular among my class and I really didn’t want to get involved in any drama. Naturally, we spent the last semester together as best friends. Things, however, began to change in the summer after our graduation from middle school. As I was packing my bags and ready to go on a new adventure in the U.S., I started to think what or who I would miss the most. The answer, surprisingly, turned out to be that girl. I was left in shock then quickly realized that I had loved her all along. Some inexplicable feeling crowded in on my mind, I was happy that eventually I was able to discover my true feeling, but at the same time, what could I do? I was about to leave the country, and 7000 miles is an insurmountable obstacle for some 15-year-old teenager. After a period of hesitation, I finally decided to tell her what was in my mind because I didn’t want to regret, ten years later, thinking why I didn’t say it out loud. What she told me was heartbreaking. She said that she loved me as well, and she was waiting for me to say something, but it took me too long. As I was hearing these words, a strong sense of regret flooded my heart, I felt like I missed the most valuable treasure in the world. I was sad for days, until I accidentally heard Hao Jiu Bu Jian, a song that I found extremely resonant. The song has a deep, sullen melody that tells a story of regrettable love. When I was listening to it, the world slowed down. What we had experienced together was like a movie, flashing through the softest space of my heart, and ultimately granted me relief. Years past, today, the song is no longer a symbol of sadness, rather, it is a mark of the beautiful time that we had.
Writing this essay is a very different experience. Unlike composing other “literary pieces,” I don’t have to find the most accurate vocabulary, or the most well-constructed sentence, it’s like writing a journal, the only thing I need to do is to express my true feelings. As I was writing the essay, I was surprised by how much music means to me, it’s like bookmarks that label my memories in an incredibly beautiful fashion that nothing else is able to compare to.