Friday, August 22, 2014

5 Tips as You Head Back to School

   Chances are, if you are a student, you are starting school next week. If not, then you probably already have started or you will be starting soon. Therefore, as your eyes are already gazing ahead to that daunting time (or desperately trying to enjoy the last moments of summer) here are 5 things for you to think about:

1. Learn
   The basis of school is learning. If you are not learning, then you are missing the point. The entire purpose of school is to educate you. Therefore, with this knowledge, head into school seeking for learning opportunities (you are going to find them). As for me, it took me my entire run of school until I realized that the important part of school was not the grade I got or the popularity status I achieved. Rather, it was how much I could learn.

2. Grades Aren't Everything
   Here's another important thing: Grades aren't everything. You aren't going to die if you get a C in English class. Of course, that's not an excuse for you to slack off and say, "I can still pass even if I only look at the book twice, so who needs to study!" That's not the right mindset. Look as school as an opportunity to learn (as stated above), but remember that grades are not the basis of your humanity. You are important as a human being, even if you fail maths class.

3. Everyone Else is Important too
   Now that you know that you are important regardless of grades, remember that other people too. If a person is completely awful at English and you are amazing, that person is still a beautiful human being. If someone in Maths class is acing every test, remember she is an important human being. Don't ridicule someone for being good or bad at school. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Love your neighbor as yourself. This is a valuable lesson for those outside of school as well as inside.

4. Use Your Time Wisely
   This may be shocking, but sometimes school isn't the funnest thing to do. Sometimes I just want to watch movies on Netflix rather than writing my English essay or reading my History textbook. However, this is important to remember: school does not affect only you. Teachers are spending time trying to teach you, parents are paying taxes for you to go to school, and you are spending hours every day having knowledge thrown into your lap. Is it respectful to just let that knowledge fall to the floor? Sure, the system may not be perfectly suited to your learning skills, but how much of it is your brain and how much of it is your attitude? At the very least, this is knowledge that people spent centuries accumulating, at least be respectful enough to try and learn it. This is hard for me, because frankly school can sometimes be plain boring. However, I must remind myself continually that I have a choice: I am not forced to watch movies or play video games. I have the ability to say no to my unhealthy desires and buckle down to do the homework. This is an especially useful skill as a college student, since I am paying far too much money to just watch movies all day.

5. Enjoy the Moment
   Last year I was a senior in High School and I had a taste of this strange disease called 'senioritis'. Apparently, it is the feeling that all I need to do is wait until I am out of school, and then I can do important things with my life. Once I am free of High School, I can actually get around to changing the world. Of course, this is partly true and partly false. It is true because the majority of people do change the world once they are out of school (since one spends more time in school than out of school). Also, the school years are the time I spend discovering who I am and what I want to do with my life. However, assuming that the only time I can change the world is once I am out of school is foolishness. I can do great things when I am young, but more importantly I can do small things. I can love my neighbor, I can encourage my friends, I can bless my enemies, all this I can do in High School (or Jr. High or middle school or college). The point is to make the most of the time you are in, rather than always looking ahead to the future before action is taken. So make the most of the time you have been given.

   What do you think of these tips? Any others you can come up with? Comment below and tell me!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ideas in Stories

   Whenever I fail to think of ideas for blog posts, I grab Rambo and have us sit down to have a transcribed conversation.
   "Hello, Rambo," I said.
   "What's up?" he asked.
   "Not much. What's up with you?"
   "Not much. Just eating and pooping like normal."
   "Rambo! That's not appropriate."
   "What? Everybody eats and poops."
   "Not true, actually. Many people go hungry, and hunger is not a game."
   Rambo shook his head. "That pun is dumb."
   "Yes, but it brings me to my point: how can stories portray ideas? See, The Hunger Games has been criticized for its lack of morality in the story. Some of the characters do evil things and those evil things aren't always shown as evil. Another story I found recently (which you can find here) is a story about a robot which does bad things, and is the protagonist of the story."
   "What's your point?"
   "I guess my point is this: can a good story portray good accurately without a 'good' hero?"
   "Well, how should I know? In all the stories you write I'm a perfectly good hero."
   I paused. "Well, we'll see how you act in further stories before you go bragging about that."
   "Well, what's your point?"
   "I don't know. I just wonder if you can present an idea or propose a question, and never really provide an answer."
   "That sounds like a good question," said Rambo. "Think we should answer it?"
   Rambo sighed. "Your wit is as unwelcome as your puns."

Monday, August 4, 2014


   Recently, two of my friends have blogged about other people. Specifically, they have blogged about how to help others and encourage them. (Those posts can be found here and here). It made me think. Stories aren't generally about one person. Few stories can be carried well with only one person. A good blog is not perfected by one person staring at a screen and typing. It is perfected through readers and through those who comment with feedback.
   In the same way, people need others. People need relationships. Ideals are not the main focus, relationships are. In my writing life, and personal life, this is especially true. I need others to help me perfect my writing, and my attitude. And others need me to help them be better people. In Genesis, the only thing that God said was not good was that humans were alone. Even though Adam walked with God, God said that wasn't enough. A story which will help people is not enough. The story will eventually fade. The best way to help people, and be helped by people, is to have relationships.
   Unfortunately, relationships are hard. They are messy. They hurt. And that's part of life. Life sucks. But life is also joyful. Life hurts, but it also soothes. Life bites, and life kisses. Which side do we, do I, focus on?
   So what got me thinking about this? (Other than the blog posts my friends wrote). Mostly it was me perusing my Goodreads profile and seeing how few reviews I have made. Now, that might not seem a big thing, but this is part of relationship. Reviews give the author feedback on how to better their book. Reviews give an opportunity for others to talk about the book. Reviews give others the opportunity to read this book (or avoid the book). And, sure, my review my be silly or lame, but practice makes perfect, right?
   I don't know. I guess these are just thoughts as I progress on a journey to think more outside of myself.

What do you think? Do you avoid relationships, or do you throw yourself in whole-heartedly? Do you think book reviews are a chance to foster relationships, or do you keep what you read to yourself? Comment below and tell me how wrong I am (or just what you think in general).