I just finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy. I know — they’re for teenagers, not seriously studious college students. In my defense, I read the first book in my Intro to the Study of Lit class this spring, and I really wanted to continue. It was well worth the two days I spent reading each book; Suzanne Collins wove together a great series, mixing together action, romance, and revolution in several works of post-apocalyptic teen fiction. One could easily dissect the series to study the human condition and human nature, the rise and fall of government…let me cut myself before I turn grotesquely academic. I’m not writing this to blabber on about Collins’ adeptness as a writer, especially compared to other adolescent novelists though (I’m looking at you Stephenie Meyer).
Much of my childhood was spent reading books; I averaged a book a day throughout middle school. Piling on extracurriculars in high school drastically cut into my reading time, but I still loved books. College is much more demanding, with required reading taking priority over leisure. So when this summer offered me a grace period between schoolwork and a new internship, I seized the month of June to indulge in this old yet familiar past time. I discovered one of the more terrible effects of this soon enough.
You see, after devouring a particularly exciting or poignant book, I am overcome with despair upon reading the last page. Sometimes, I wonder why I did not bother to relish the book; however, the idea is truly impossible. I disregard hunger, thirst, and fatigue to finish a book. If I am in the middle of a story, nothing and no one can interrupt its completion. Nevertheless, reading comes with pain for me; the world the writer has created and that I have further molded into my imagination has served its purpose. The characters I have pictured in my mind and have captured my admiration, respect, or love…their fates are decided and they disappear too. This world I devoted hours to holds no more meaning after the last page is turned. My head spins, my heart feels heavy. I experience what others apparently call, “post book depression”.
My imagination is extremely vivid. Monsters infiltrated my nightmares as a kid, not because of scary movies I watched, but the stories I had read before bedtime. I seldom speak to anyone on car trips, as I spend hours creating fantasies in my mind. My eyes glaze over in what seems to be boredom; however, I can never be bored. I am not a fascinating person, nor do I have a mesmerizing mind. Regardless, I always know that if others cannot “entertain me”, so to speak, I will be fine on my own. My wild imagination translates into elaborate visual depictions of novels — almost like movies in my mind. I’ve molded this story into perfection…in my eyes. I can no longer manipulate it into its desirable form. The book is over, and it is time to move on.
…which might explain why I “suffer” from this post book depression. It’s time to move on, into a world where I have little control. No longer can I admire the characteristics of the protagonists, forgetting that these qualities I covet may also be ones I lack. I cannot lose myself in their flaws, which often match my own. I must sink back into my day to day realities, rather than focus on the trials and tribulations on the page. My life is not dreadful; perhaps it is just dreadfully boring. I do enjoy “normal” leisure activities, but I crave the kind of excitement that a night of bowling cannot supply. It’s why being a field reporter is so appallingly appealing to me; I want to experience the action of an event, hear the sounds and see the sights of it all. I can’t explain the thrill I get from the idea of such things…without having people question my sanity, at least. Even if the book is not so “action packed”, it often will make me reflect on who I am and what I’ve done with my life.
It can bog me down, but I’ll inevitably bounce back. My post book depression shows me how little control I have, taunts my thirst for adventure, and mocks my lack of accomplishment, yes. At the same time, it inspires me to take the reins. I may not be a part of a great work of fiction, but maybe someday, my life will be a great story of its own.
I don’t eat beef, as it is against Hindu practices. I don’t eat any meat for that matter, because of cultural reasons. I celebrate the festivals, respect the observances, that sort of thing. But I am far from pious.
I was never one to pray, whether it was out of gratitude or grief. I always find it rather strange to sit in front of our little home temple and try to pray to God. I don’t ask for things while I pray, but I don’t really know what else to think while I’m there. I had this problem when I was a kid, too.
This idea of God and religion baffles me, but not enough for me to go on a journey to find Him. So many conflicts are sparked by religions, which all seem to be leading people to the same conclusions about life, in my opinion. You can choose whatever path you’d like, but we all want the same goal in the end, I guess.
I cannot force myself to be religious, nor do I try to. Rather, I am spiritual in a different sense. I self-reflect often. I think about life and its meaning. I try to rise above material things and superficiality. Sometimes…I epically fail. And that’s okay. I’m not perfect. I can learn from my mistakes.
I don’t know much about other religions, though, at least not as much as I’d like to. I try to learn a bit about each, whether through reading about them or asking people of different faiths. People usually don’t mind my questions, which I greatly appreciate. I like that there’s still open mindedness when it comes to the topic of religion, even when it’s just telling someone more about it. Tolerance is important, and it’s always nice when people tolerate my ignorance, haha
It’s not that I think religion is a waste of time. I really just don’t know what to believe in. What I think matters in the end is that I be the best that I can be. I should be caring and thoughtful, moral and optimistic. That’s Kanikaism in a nutshell, but my ideas are far from unique. I can’t claim to have developed this as an original moral system, let alone claim it is the most ideal. Can anyone really fight for the latter point? I think not.
For now, I’ll work with what I have. But I am pious in my own way, and that should be acceptable.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
I cannot compliment myself, nor can I properly accept one. I never thought this was a problem, until I began to receive them more. I’m so terribly awkward as it is, and then someone tries to tell me something nice? Not happening.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the amazing things people tell me. It’s flattering to hear such things. Nevertheless, I can never actually believe the things they say. How am I so smart? He is just as intelligent, if not more so, than I am. How am so sweet and helpful? She’s so nice and she’s more altruistic than I am. Pretty? No. I am surrounded by absolutely beautiful people, from the inside out. I don’t understand why one would say such a thing. I am just me.
I go to school. I like to go bowling. I rarely watch movies. I love The Beatles. I can knit and sew. I like nerdy things, like webcomics and math/science jokes. I once wrote out Pascal’s Triangle to the 25th or so line for fun (I also memorized the Fibonacci sequence too — I don’t remember it anymore though). I’m a news junkie. I like Italian food. I go on Facebook far too much for my own good. I’m quirky at best.
I realized over time that my self-deprecation must come to an end. When I came to college, I made friends that cared about me in ways that my old friends did not. I never really received compliments in high school, so it was very new for me in college. One of my closest friends began to notice my distaste for compliments. He said compliments are meant to make me feel good about myself, and that they were genuine. When I said I couldn’t accept them, he told me he wouldn’t let me compliment him either.
I couldn’t even tell him if I liked a shirt he was wearing. It was so difficult to be restricted in such a way; I wasn’t allowed to appreciate how amazing my friend was. I asked him why he did this and he said, “It’s important for you to be able to accept that you are a good person. It makes you an even better one, if you can appreciate yourself.”
Can you absolutely love others without loving yourself? I don’t think you really can. Learning to care for yourself is just as important as learning to care for others. Can you grow if you don’t acknowledge your strengths? And if you don’t grow, how can you be a better person, friend, child, companion, parent, for another? I’ve realized that you can know the good aspects of yourself without being egotistical.
In essence…don’t hate; appreciate.
“No, I’m not a classically trained pianist, but I know a pretty note when I hear one.”
— Jennifer J. Chung
I wanted to be a pianist and composer. I took music lessons in high school, learning music theory, piano and guitar. I previously sang in two choirs for a few years. My teacher told me I could never reach that goal. “Maybe with a little work,” he said, “You could be an academic. But not a performer. Never a performer.”
It made me feel terrible. If I couldn’t reach that goal, what were these lessons good for? I became discouraged, and I decided to pursue new goals. I loved to write, so I pursued this goal instead. I don’t regret it, but I wonder sometimes whether I made the right choice. Could I have been a classical musician?
Music is a great part of my life, but I didn’t choose to pursue it further. Whether you’ve taken lessons or just listen to CDs, you can be appreciate music. Sometimes, its sheer beauty makes it even more wonderful. You don’t have to know the structure, key or chords used in a piece to be moved by a song. Music is universal and inclusive to all; it’s a language that transcends international borders. One should not need a degree or a lifetime of training to express oneself through music.
So I’ll play on, and hope that someone thinks the notes produced are pretty too.
Today was the kick-off event for Relay for Life at The College of Staten Island. One slogan for the American Cancer Society is “create a world with less cancer and more birthdays”. I am one of millions of people who have been affected by cancer in some shape or form; my grandfather passed away due to cancer in his kidneys and my grandmother is currently battling the disease. Friends of mine have had parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles who have passed away because of cancer. Needless to say, cancer is a terrible illness, and I hope to see a world with less cancer. While cancer warrants a great amount of attention, I would like to talk about birthdays.
No, I’m not dreaming wistfully of presents and birthday cake, or of dance parties and balloons. I love to…celebrate my loved ones, and birthdays are the perfect day to do so. I’m not talking about throwing huge gatherings or buying expensive gifts. No, a person’s birthday should be about them; what they did over the past year, what they would like to do in the year ahead of them, the ups and downs they’ve experienced, and the people that defined it. I try to make it a point to tell family and friends how important they are to me on their birthdays, whether I’ve known them for weeks or years.
As I think about it, I wonder…why just on birthdays? Why can’t we take the time to appreciate everyone in our lives at every possible moment? Who knows where they’ll be five years, months, weeks, or even days from now? If you’re lucky, you can spend a lot of time with them and have some amazing memories.
It’s difficult when we don’t get to see someone so often; I haven’t been able to visit my grandmother in five years. I want to see her show me her collection of photos showing my family’s smiling faces. I want another chance to try to refuse the rupee coins she places in my hand as we depart for the airport. I didn’t get this last chance with my grandfather. I wish I could have seen him one last time, just like I wish I’ll see my grandma at least one more time. I wish I got the chance to know them better, so I could appreciate them even more.
Appreciation for someone shouldn’t stop when they leave your life. But if you love someone, you should let them know. Although we may all just be ordinary people, one should never underestimate the power of a single person’s love. You could make a person’s week if you show them how much you care about them, and you wouldn’t even realize it. Loving in such an open capacity is difficult though, which can make expressing your feelings rather difficult. So let’s start with birthdays, and take it from there.