PW#8 – The Life of an Athlete

I can feel my heartbeat. That was the only thought circulating her mind as she stood still, waiting. It beat against her ribcage, drowning out the sounds around her as she honed in on her main focus: the volleyball. Each inhale and exhale was laboured, and her muscles screamed in protest of her movements, begging for reprieve. Her accumulating fatigue from the past three days was catching up to her, but it did not matter, she thought. The only thing that mattered was here and now. With one final deep breath, the whistle blew, sharp and decisive, slicing through the thick tension in the air. Her teammate bounced the ball on the ground, its impact reverberating through the floor and warning her of the nearing precipice. Her teammate then served the ball with practiced and precise movements, which soared over the net and into the awaiting team’s possession. Nothing could beat this; the thrum of her blood, the anticipation of what was to come, but most importantly, the trust and resolve she felt in each moment. Every instinct and ounce of her energy was directed toward the next move, which could make or break the game of strategy.

Her friends shifted around her, a practiced series of movements and plays that each player was familiar with. When one moved forward, the other covered the space behind them. When one went up to swing, others went down to cover. They played as a unit, in motion, together, living for the exhilaration that the sport brought. Moving swiftly in position, the ball reverberated off of her arms with a thud, ricocheting and soaring towards the centre setter. With a perfect set, the ball then went flying to the outside hitter. The girl had no doubt in her friend’s abilities, watching her fly up into the air and snap down on the ball. It replayed through her mind as if in slow motion. With the pounding that came with the ball hitting the floor, the sound around her became defeating. She looked around, facing her friends who stormed the court and began cheering. They had done it, she thought. All their efforts, every drop of sweat, every ache, and every laboured breath had been worth it. Tears flooded each of their eyes at their achievement, and with it came the realization that this would be their last time on the court as a team. Some would move, some would quit, others would become too busy. Savouring the bliss of victory, she piled atop her friends and walked off the court for the final time with the people that had made her season so special. Somehow, the gold metal she received felt less significant than the love she felt for the people who surrounded her.

IRJE#7 – The Impermanence of Life

In the world of Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas, there is magic, love, strength, and vulnerability. The depth of the characters, particularly Bryce, the protagonist, comes not from just her physical characteristics and strengths, but from her ability to open herself up and share her weaknesses. The following excerpt occurs when Bryce is faced with a daunting challenge ahead, and her best friend, Danika, guides her from the afterlife through fear and trepidation

She whispered, “I’m scared.”

Danika grabbed her hand again. “That’s the point of it, Bryce. Of life. To live, to love, knowing that it might all vanish tomorrow. It makes everything that much more precious.” She took Bryce’s face in her hands and pressed their brows together.”

This discourse between the two characters shows the true power of friendship, and how support can help one overcome even the toughest of challenges. It can also be applied universally, Danika’s message reaching far beyond the book and applying to everyday life. It makes one reflect and take the time to realize that life is so precious, and implores one to live it while they can. This reflection on the impermanence of life only adds to its value and echoes another phrase in the book, “momento mori,” which is a Latin phrase that means “remember that you will die.” Such an important sentiment to remember, and yet also one not often appreciated.

PR#4 – Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet, written by Shakespeare in the late 16th century, is an impassioning story of two star-crossed lovers destined for death. The story of their love and heartbreak brought with it a flurry of emotions; after all, what could be more moving than the story of a man and a woman finding in their sudden love for each other a reason to defy their families’ mutual hatred? I found myself enraptured by the language use and dialogue, letting it wash over me to understand the meaning beneath. The Old English perfectly captured and aligned with the setting, creating the sense of an old-fashioned era which I found myself falling into. My incomplete understanding of the formal language also had me relying more heavily on context clues and theatrics. Aided by the frequent soliloquies from several characters, I was able to distinguish emotions, foreshadowing, and the direction in which the story was progressing. This propelled me to appreciate the depth of emotion and how love overtook both Romeo’s and Juliet’s cognitive thoughts and predetermined judgements. Paired with Shakespeare’s use of vivid imagery, the setting and characters came to life. The vibrancy of Verona’s bustling streets set the stage for the poignant narrative. Furthermore, the complexities of identity breathed life into each character; Romeo’s passionate declarations of love, Juliet’s conflicted emotions, and even the fiery tempers of the feuding families conveyed further depth and animation. Ultimately, the narrative, through many literary techniques and nuances, wrought emotional turmoil, but also raised the concept of traditional gender roles.

Partway through both reading and watching the story of Romeo and Juliet, a central question was brought to mind: beneath the layers of romance and the nature of desire, what traditional notions of gender and identity can be observed? When thinking of the 16th century, my impression stems towards inequality, sexism, and prejudice. The social dynamics are evident throughout, most clearly in regard to Juliet’s strained circumstances as opposed to Romeo’s and the vice her parents have on her affairs. This shares the historical conflict between parental will and romantic individualism, and shows Juliet’s lack of control. My thoughts during the narrative strayed towards the intentions of Shakespeare himself. The underlying themes of sexism hint at the inequitable social state of the 16th century, causing me to wonder whether Romeo and Juliet was a way for Shakespeare to comment on the struggles that individuals face when asserting their identities and desires within a society that seeks to confine them. The ending, tragic as it was, gave me pause. Most stories regarding romance end with a “happily ever after,” a conclusion that leaves the reader with a smile and little reflection; this narrative was not one of them. The death of both Romeo and Juliet, along with multiple side characters, suggests something to me about the tragic outcome of romantic individualism and disobedience of authority.  The internal devision on the grounds of gender inequalities was a large take-away from this story for me, raising important questions and pushing me to further reflect on Shakespeare’s intentions.

PW#7 – Decisiveness

Just make up your mind! Decisiveness is a strange thing. We live in a society where we are constantly encouraged to make hard choices and understand the impact of those decisions despite our ignorance. Yet still, it comes as a surprise when we realize how difficult it proves to be. I would label myself as someone capable of making hard choices and constantly challenging myself to make up my mind regarding important matters. I know what I like, what I don’t like, my goals and who I want to be at a surface level. But now, standing at an impasse and pushed to make decisions that will forever alter my future, I realize I know very little. It is not just me deciding what I want to do and who I want to be. I am a mosaic of every person I’ve ever known, loved, and been. I like mangos because the little girl in me loved it when my mother brought them home as a surprise. I wanted to be an actress because my childhood best friend promised we would be famous together. I love to read because the dragons and magic didn’t seem too farfetched as a child. I began playing volleyball because I wanted to be like my inspiring friends. I try to understand everyone because that’s what my father taught me. I am loud and extraverted, because my mother taught me to never be someone untrue to myself. I am a collection of memories, a mosaic of different people arranged together to create my unique identity. When I make a decision now, I carry those memories with me; I carry the little girl in me, desperately trying to make her proud. Moving forward, growing up, means adding more pieces to my ever-growing mosaic. I still don’t know what I want to do, or who I want to be, but I don’t need to. I can change my mind and make mistakes. I can be indecisive. So no, I can’t just make up my mind. 

IRJE#6 – Power of a Woman

In the fantasy novel, Daughter of the Pirate King, a young woman is forced to fight for power and control in a society plagued by male dominance and sexism. The author, Tricia Levenseller, creates a world of intrigue and mystery, yet also weaves in social challenges that are prominent in today’s world. Levenseller writes of the struggles of the women in the book, highlighting their resilience and capabilities. The theme celebrates female agency and challenges the notion that women are limited by their gender. It portrays women as capable leaders, fighters, and strategists, capable of achieving their goals through their abilities and determination. My favourite quote from the book is from the perspective of the protagonist when constantly being underestimated by those around her.

“Never underestimate the power of a strong and determined woman.”

In this scene alone, the protagonist demonstrates her capabilities, strength and intelligence, proving herself to be just as skilled – if not more so – than her male counterparts. This challenges the notion that women are lesser, and eliminates traditional gender roles associated with piracy and leadership. This is one of the primary reasons why I picked up this book, and the hook which made me continue reading. To hear and learn of empowering women, both real and fiction, breaks down stereotypes and creates a hopeful future. Despite the progress made in the world surrounding sexism, I and many other women experience gender stereotyping regarding strength and leadership abilities regularly. Often, I am told to “step aside and let the men handle the heavy lifting,” and other things similar. It is books and quotes like these that helped me realize I can be equal, if not better, than the people around me, no matter their gender association.

 

PW#6 – Sonder

Travel had always been a form of escapism for her, a way to find a new life beyond the confines of routine. Despite the grogginess hazing her mind, she was able to appreciate the humid air and bustling noise of the city around her when she first stepped foot onto the streets of France. This is life, she thought. With its rustic beauty, France was the quintessence of timeless charm. The cozy cobblestone homes tucked into the countryside and rolling hills brought life to Avignon. The language, although new to her, sounded melodic and beautiful, much like the sound of the birds in the early morning. The people, with their kind yet raucous behaviour, swarmed the streets, rushing to their separate lives. It made her pause in the crowd and wonder where they were headed – whether they had families, jobs, thoughts or large aspirations. She often found herself making personalities for each stranger she passed – the word for it, she believed, was sonder. Sonder refers to the “realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness.” A sprawling anthill of complex stories surrounding her that she might never know. After-all, she was but a background extra – a woman sipping coffee, a blur of traffic passing on the highway, or a lighted window at dusk. In their narrative, she would most likely never appear again. After a moment of reflection, she continued her steps unhurriedly. There was nothing she could do but let their lives wash over her, along with the language, culture, and stories she would later collect in her memory. She would never know why the woman she passed was in such a rush, or why her driver was in such a good mood that day, but that was how it was – how it would be. C’est la vie. 

IRJE#5 – The Strength in Vulnerability

One book that I have read whose message and quotes truly stuck with me was Divine Rivals, by Rebecca Ross. In the fantastical world of magic and intrigue, Ross creates a story that unfolds as you read, and she truly captured me from the start. The emotional depth of the characters and the plot points she diverged impacted me immensely, specifically, this one excerpt spoken by the protagonist in a moment of vulnerability. It goes as follows:

“It takes courage to let down your armour, to welcome people to see you as you are. Sometimes I feel the same as you: I can’t risk having people behold me as I truly am. But there’s also a small voice in the back of my mind, a voice that tells me, “You will miss so much by being so guarded.”

This quote was the catalyst that began the unfolding of the protagonist’s character. It is when she first lets down her guard and is honest with the other characters in the book, and it shows the truth behind the phrase “there is strength in vulnerability.” It touched me as a reader because I feel I can relate to the meaning Ross is trying to convey. There are times where we hide our true selves to impress, relate, or be liked by others. After all, it is too dangerous to show yourself and be open to the risk of failure, of disappointment. But that is why I think it is so special; bearing yourself for conviction and vulnerability also opens up opportunities that, as the protagonist also puts it, you would have missed otherwise. This quote conveys that to let down your armour is a strength, not a weakness, and that is something truly remarkable.

Personal Response – Brave New World and Amusing Ourselves to Death

Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World, illustrates a utopian setting that calls for reflection and inquiry. In a future society with an abundance of technology, hypnopaedia, and the pursuit of trivial pleasure, active individual thought is relegated to the sidelines, leading to what I consider a superficial and inhumane concept of reality. Huxley’s use of imagery, descriptive language, and tone allowed me to be captured by the story and characters while also finding a deeper meaning within his words. The mass entertainment and representation of drugs through soma served as tools to pacify and dehumanize society; this is not far from the modern reality we live in and a fair estimate on Huxley’s behalf of what future generations would become. In today’s world, where entertainment through television and social media advances rapidly and shapes public discourse, Huxley’s warning within the pages was clear to me: letting technology surpass depth and critical thought in importance goes against the humanitarian imperative and is a dereliction of (what some would call) human duty. Pursuing a society similar to the vision Huxley created seems dangerous, and somewhat stupid, to me after finishing the novel, which shows the impact of his narrative. In connection with Brave New World, Postman’s essay length novel, Amusing Ourselves to Death, follows a similar theme of a society that sacrifices depth of individuality for immediate pleasure and amusement.

Postman, in Amusing Ourselves to Death, argues that television, and by extension, most visual media, shapes public thought and contributes to a decline in society’s ability to engage in meaningful discourse. He procures the idea that, with the shift from a print-based culture to an image-based culture, “[Americans] do not exchange ideas, they exchange images,” (Postman, N. 2010). This was the concept that stuck with me, as I feel I have experienced the transitional period between both realities. As a child, my main source of education was through literature and children’s books, and it was not until I was four or five that I started to become interested in television. Nowadays, it is harder to escape social media, television, and the internet; they surround everyone, everyday. Postman explores the connection between Brave New World and the world he saw years ago, and now more than ever his assertions seem relevant to me. The idea that technological advancements, entertainment, and instant-gratification are the components that society is actively seeking, whether consciously or subconsciously, alter my thinking in regard to media. It encourages me to participate in deeper discourse on the topics that surround my everyday life, and grow to understand the true affects and subtle subjugation of individual thought.

PW#5 – The First Snow Fall

The air was crisp, carrying a sense of anticipation that couldn’t be shaken. The sky, once a canvas of muted greys, now transformed into a tapestry of white. The cold snaked around many onlookers, but still, they waited with bated breath. The ground prepared for the lush blankets of snow that were soon to paint the world white. The earth held its breath, patiently awaiting the first snowfall. As the first flakes descended, they pirouetted, caught in a silent ballet. Intricate snowflakes swept the skies with the magic of winter. The trees, once skeletal figures from the autumn months, slowly came back alive, adorned with glittering crystals and powder snow.

The first snowfall was not just a change in weather; it was a shift in perspective. Where people once complained of the cold, they now lay, enjoying the serenity that the weather provided. Hats, mitts, and coats were adorned, and soon the streets were filled with children’s laughter and the smiles of onlookers.

The winter has never been just a season. It brings joy and delight to most, and it has always had a special place in my heart. In the small neighbourhood I grew up in, the first snowfall was nothing short of a magical spectacle. I remember waking up and rushing to the window to see the blankets of snow layering the ground. The air itself was different, more crisp and clear than ever before.

Bounding up the stairs, I would find my family watching the sky in wonder. We’d laugh, enjoying the simplicity of the moment. Then came the utter excitement. My brother and I would rush back down the stairs, adorn our small boots and jackets, and fight over who got the better mittens. We’d creak open the door and feel the cold chill of the air, but nothing could stop us from running into the white powder that awaited us. He and I would make snow angels, sled down the most dangerous slopes, and enjoy the snow. Then finally came the competition; the fort fight. After hours of building forts and sledding, we’d eventually get tired and retire to the warmth and comfort of our childhood home.

Our mother would have prepared hot chocolate and lit the fireplace, and we would all sit around the warmth that it provided to chase away the bitter chill that had settled under our bones. In the evening, when the sun had fallen beyond the horizon, I would lay in bed and feel an immense sense of gratitude. The first snowfall wasn’t just about the snow; it was a gift, a memory etched in the fabric of my childhood, a reminder that even in the coldest of seasons, warmth and wonder could be found.

 

 

 

IRJE #4 – Self-Identity Struggles

The excerpt I chose to focus on for this IRJE is taken from the book Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross. In this snapshot of the fictional world, the protagonist is writing about their confusion – both towards their identity and their figurative appearance. It is clear that the character is struggling with internal conflict, and this letter captures the struggle many face in navigating the judgements of others while living a life authentic to themselves.

Do you ever feel as if you wear armor, day after day? That when people look at you, they see only the shine of steel that you’ve carefully encased yourself in? They see what they want to see in you – the warped reflection of their own face, or a piece of the sky, or a shadow cast between buildings. They see all the times you’ve made mistakes, all the times you’ve failed, all the times you’ve hurt them or disappointed them. As if that is all you will ever be in their eyes. How do you change something like that? How do you make your life your own and not feel guilt over it?

This excerpt can be considered relatable to many, including myself, as it perfectly captures the struggle between being wholly yourself and putting on a mask or, as the character puts it, armour, to portray yourself as the version you want others to see. Vulnerability is difficult; it takes courage to let down your armour, to welcome people to see you as you are. It also highlights the impact of first impressions and prejudgements. The protagonist states that everyone “sees all the times you’ve made mistakes, all the times you’ve failed, all the times you’ve hurt them or disappointed them. As if that is all you will ever be in their eyes.” Shortly after, they question how to change such undeviating perceptions. I, myself, have struggled with shaping the way others view me once they think they know exactly who I am. The fear of being defined by past errors or disappointments can be paralyzing, which can in turn prevent personal growth and the ability to redefine oneself. This is why it is so important to remain open-minded and to take on your life as your own, and no one else’s.

PW#4 – Curiosity

Curiosity. The word itself, a collection of letters strung together to form a cohesive meaning, conveys little to most and none to some. It is simply that: a word. To me, curiosity is boundless. It surrounds me. No moment passes where I don’t question or inquire, challenge or scrutinize. My brain is constantly whirring, looking for answers to questions I may never find. Throughout childhood, some are told that “curiosity kills the cat,” a cautionary tale to temper inquisitive nature. What if curiosity did not kill the cat, but set it free? What if curiosity led it to new places, new experiences, where it found the answers to unvoiced questions? Truthfully, I believe that it does not act as a threat but as a beacon. Curiosity has been my lifelong companion, guiding me and shedding light on my darkest and most uncertain moments. As a child, curiosity held my hand as I walked through the explorative stages of life. I did not know my own name, let alone the vast world I had been thrust into. It was my constant need for answers, and my insatiable appetite for knowledge, that led me to grow into the person I am today. Now, looking towards the future, I am cognizant that I know absolutely nothing. Nothing of my plans, nothing of tomorrow, and certainly nothing of who I am to become. Yet, paradoxically, this acknowledgement of the vast unknown ahead of me allows me to find a profound sense of liberation. Fear does not drive me; my curiosity allows me to gaze into the future with a sense of wonder and anticipation. The beauty of tomorrow lies within the truth that no one knows. To claim that you know your purpose, or your plans, or even yourself fully, is to confine the nature of human potential within the narrow walls of certainty. I find beauty in the uncertainty, the curious exhilaration. I wonder who I will become tomorrow. I hope my curiosity will forever accompany me. Curiosity.

 

IRJE #3 – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

A short time ago, I read the book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. This biography allowed me to delve into the perspective of King, understanding his journey and perspective. Throughout the book, he separates his thoughts into neatly organized categories. First, he highlights events in his life that influenced his writing throughout the “C.V.” He then goes on to discuss why writing is so important and then the section, “On Writing,” where he provides his advice to aspiring writers. I began reading this book for my personal project, as writing is the focus, and it greatly supported me. Not only that, the quotes from the book inspired me. The following quote was one of the most resonating to me:

It is, rather, a kind of curriculum vitae – my attempt to show how one writer was formed. Not how one writer was made; I don’t believe writers can be made, either by circumstances or by self-will (although I did believe those things once). The equipment comes with the original package.

This phrase provides an insight into how Stephen King thinks, allowing the reader to contemplate and reflect upon the meaning behind his proclamations. With such few words, he encapsulates his whole belief in writing and his journey. He shares how writers cannot be made, only formed. This stuck with me, as it was a new idea that had never been introduced to me. Soon after he writes this phrase, he goes on to speak of what influenced his journey. He includes inspiration, luck, and a little talent. This also surprised me, as his unabashedness and transparency were unfamiliar to me. Overall, this book served the purpose that I was looking for and provided more than I could have hoped for; it fueled my desire to write.

PR#2 – The Psychological Destruction of War – All Quiet on the Western Front

The novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque is a haunting story that sheds light on an intensely human perspective of the war which I had never considered before reading it. Remarque manages to both depict the physical and psychological horrors of war through the pages. He never glorifies any of the notable events, only telling a heartbreakingly transparent version of the conflict. The story captured my attention with immersive plot points, descriptive sentences and settings that added depth to the story and the characters’ identities in each chapter. Throughout the book, Remarque draws emotional responses from the reader through many different techniques, but the aspects that stood out most to me were the imagery, character development, and soldier camaraderie.

Remarque’s use of vivid imagery, along with his captivating exploration of the immersive plot, adds an extra layer of realism to the story that intrigued me from the very beginning. When describing the events of the war, Remarque leaves no details spared, which adds an unfiltered quality to the already brutal retelling. His inclusion of the conflicts, brutish lifestyle, and emotional depravity made it almost hard to read, as the emotions these details evoked were not familiar or pleasant to me. Through the eyes of Paul Baumer, the protagonist, I was able to understand the savagery and futility that went hand in hand with such a conflict. Particularly, I was struck by Remarque’s vivid portrayals of trench warfare’s atrocities, including artillery bombardments, shelling, barbed wire, and destruction. Ultimately, this book challenges the concept of war in ways that not many other authors have had the courage to do, and it opened my eyes to the agonizing truth.

Another jarring aspect that enhanced the emotional toll of the book was the strong character development and camaraderie among soldiers. The way Remarque brings each character to life, whether important to the plot or not, is remarkable and adds to the story’s poignancy. He doesn’t attribute the same aspects to each character and doesn’t make them all good, as people are never purely good. They each possess distinct flaws, whether that be stubbornness, temper, ferocity, or frivolity. It is these elements that made me connect with each fictional character, as it is these elements that I can understand and relate to in myself and those around me. These were the individual features of each character that carried them through the war, and these were also the features that allowed me to feel a sense of great sorrow and connection towards them. Similarly, the connections the soldiers made throughout the war enhanced the sentiment of loss. 

It was inspiring to experience the way Remarque interlinks the characters despite their diverse qualities. Exploring the strong bond formed between soldiers who shared a traumatic experience served as a reminder that light can be found in the darkest of places. Their camaraderie also displayed the stark juxtaposition between the horrors that they faced and the joy they shared in their everyday lives. How they could go from laughing and joking together one minute, to not knowing whether the other was alive the next baffled me. This made me believe that they had become desensitized to loss, explaining their emotional flexibility. While Remarque manages to highlight this camaraderie between the protagonist and fellow German soldiers, he also emphasizes the shared humanity of soldiers on both sides of the conflict. The scene where Paul shoots a French combatant and then regrets his action, reflecting upon himself and who he has become, highlights the discord between his soldier identity and his personal beliefs. It expresses how war pits young men against one another, even when they may have no personal quarrel, and wholly destroys their past persona. 

PW#3 – The Importance of Childhood

When she was young, she would sit by her cottage window and stare out upon the vast expanse beyond, painting the beauty of nature. The rolling hills and vibrant meadows seemed endless, with the small garden in the backyard sprouting new life. The sun that crested over the mountains and the crisp air against her skin made her feel insignificant in the face of the expansive world ahead. She had no worries or concerns in this place of serenity, with all she had to think about being her next breaths and the beauty of the world depicted by her paintbrush.

As she grew older, she found herself forgetting her place in the world. She no longer visited her little cottage on the hill, and time seemed to slip past her as if she were simply watching herself through someone else’s lens and never truly living. Yet, the memory of those early days in the cottage haunted her like a whisper of forgotten dreams. The bustling city she now called home was a stark contrast to the serenity of her childhood. The incessant honking of cars, the ceaseless chatter of people rushing to and fro, and the relentless demands of work had swallowed her whole.

One night, in her upscale apartment in the centre of the city, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. The haunted woman who stared back was a weary stranger, almost completely unrecognizable. She realized at that moment how much time she had spent simply surviving, sleepwalking through life without remembering the importance of her existence; without recalling her aspirations, desires, and hobbies. She had never tried to reconnect with the innocence and wonder of her youth, when she had felt like anything was possible. She yearned to once again become in touch with that side of herself; to return to her cottage and feel the crisp morning air and the warmth of the sun’s rays.

The next day, she decided to return to her childhood cottage. She drove from the city to the countryside, the juxtaposition of the two environments reflecting her own differences. When she arrived, she found the once beautiful place disastrous. The garden, once tended by her loving hands, had fallen into disarray. Weeds and overgrown plants had taken over the plots and once-vibrant flowers. The fields, with no one to cut them, had become a tangle of wild growth. They almost seemed to mirror her own messy life.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed, she felt a renewed sense of purpose. She rolled up her sleeves and got to work, weeding, soiling, and planting until the garden looked as it once had. Over the course of the weeks she stayed, she worked hard to rekindle the place that she had once loved more than anything. There was much to do in a short time, so she got to work, cutting grass, gardening, refurnishing, and building. By the end of the two weeks, the place was back to its previous state, and so was she.

She felt reacquainted with nature. The long hikes over the rolling hills and early mornings watching the sunrise behind the mountains had made her remember what she loved so much about nature. She regained that sense of insignificance and even found herself painting once more. She was filled with awe and inspiration.

Over this time, she had found a balance between the tranquillity of her childhood and the bustling nature of her present. She realized the importance of carrying this balance with her wherever she went, no matter what her surroundings suggested.

In the end, she had not forgotten her place in the world; instead, she had rediscovered it. Life was no longer something she merely watched pass by; it was something she lived with intention and appreciation, just as she did in her youth.

 

IRJE #2 – Women and Weapons

The book that I am currently reading is titled Lady Smoke, by Laura Sebastian. It is the second book in the trilogy and follows a fantasy plot with political intrigue, romance, and adventure. One of the many quotes in this book that stuck out to me the most was found in a scene where the main character, a young woman vying to reunite her country and take back her throne, spoke with another woman about their struggles. The quote is found on page 233, and is described as the following:

“As women, we must have our weapons in this world, whether they’re our minds or our fists or our wiles or our tears.”

“I couldn’t agree more.”

This, specifically in the past tense setting of the book, gave me further insight into what the world was like for women in particular. Despite being a fantastical writing piece, Sebastian still manages to include relevance to reality within the pages while also adding a deeper layer of personality to the characters and their efforts. As a woman myself, this provided me with an opportunity to not only read of the characters but also place myself in the character’s situation. Ultimately, this quote added many important aspects and layers, overall enhancing the story.

Today, she is a teenage girl – Personal Writing #2

Today, she is a teenage girl. She wakes to the sounds of a house full of life and the smell of fresh coffee. Everyone is home. Her father watches the television while her mother bakes fresh brownies. She groans at the sound of her pestering alarm and stares up at the ceiling. She is warm, cocooned in her sheets as if she were a caterpillar, not quite ready to leave just yet. It is in moments like this that she reflects upon the future. One day, she realizes, she will wake up alone. The house will be still as never before, and the silence will be deafening. One day, there will be no more laughter echoing through the empty halls, nor will there be any more pestering comments from her siblings. There will be fewer family dinners and movie nights. Fewer long car rides and conversations. Fewer opportunities with less of the world laid out in front of her. She will grow up, and with it, she will lose this piece of her, this aching familiarity. Tomorrow, she will grow up, and all that will be left of her childhood are memories. Moments that she will never relive, reflections of her shattered past, held in her heart and forever scattered across her path.

– Meghan

 

IRJE #1 – Throne of Glass

The excerpt that I chose to write this IRJE about is from the book, Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas. This is not the current independent book I am reading, but rather a recent read that deeply impacted me. The following quote portrays the characters’ emotions in a deep and meaningful way. The protagonist is discussing the importance of music and the emotions she feels when she plays the piano.

“I like music,” she said slowly, “because when I hear it, I . . . I lose myself within myself, if that makes any sense. I become empty and full all at once, and I can feel the whole earth roiling around me. When I play. I’m not . . . for once, I’m not destroying, I’m creating.”
The way that Maas uses descriptive words within the sentence enhances the meaning and allows the reader to understand and empathize with the character. Furthermore, the sharp juxtaposition between the protagonist’s ferocity throughout the majority of the book to this scene, where we see a deeper, softer, layer of her characterization was very impactful to the story. As a piano player myself, I felt this quote deeply. Musique is a form of self-expression that I value, and seeing this reflected in a character made me feel recognized and also allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the protagonists’ thoughts.

PR – They Shall Not Grow Old

Throughout the documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, I experienced a variety of profound emotions, ranging from sadness to confusion to hopelessness. I am cognizant that I cannot begin to fully understand or relate to the lives of the soldiers in World War 1, as I have never had to experience such a destructive event. That being said, the gruesome imagery and depictions of death so easily discussed provided a window into the unfiltered lives of the soldiers, allowing me to see the harsh reality of war. When hearing of the age of the soldiers enlisting, the stories’ poignancy was only enhanced. I have lived a fairly sheltered life, all things considered, so it seems unfathomable to imagine friends and family members of similar age in the same situation. Knowing that the soldiers had family and friends who loved them equally as much as I love mine is terrifying. No one speaks of the individual losses, always referring to the deaths on a grand scale, so hearing about their identities, aspirations, families, and lives made the authenticity and individuality of their characters all the more real.

How the film used colorization and sound restoration to give life to the war bridged the gap between past and present, humanizing the soldiers and giving them personality in a way that made it even more difficult to watch. It is one thing to hear of the horrors of war through statistics and history books, however, the realism that this film provided and having to watch the horrors unfold for myself was a stark reminder that they were just ordinary people thrust into a devastating situation. The most crushing realization was the juxtaposition between the innocent, and even excited young men, enlisting, to the harsh reality of the brutal warfare and conditions on the front lines. It was heartbreaking to think that most of these boys, who were once full of enthusiasm, never made it back home. This reality puts into perspective just how much they sacrificed for their countries, and provided a renewed sense of gratitude and appreciation for those who gave their lives for the cause.

 

PW#1 – The Beauty of Nature

The sun painted the sky with hues untamed,

A masterpiece of colours, unashamed.

And with the symphony of light came signs of wildlife,

Nature’s new wonders coming back to life.

 

The birdsong rose beneath the autumn haze,

Amidst the glow of the rising sun’s gaze,

With the dappled sunlight glinting through trees,

There was a hint of salty ocean breeze.

 

The vibrant coloured canopy of tents,

Stirred one by one with their inhabitants.

Eager to seize the adventurous day,

Despite the misty chill in murder bay.

 

The vast expanse of the calm ocean deep,

Cast a rhythmic lull that put us to sleep.

And as we lay by the crackling flames,

Our untainted dreams of nature remain.

A Window Into My Life – Meghan

Hello! My full name is Meghan Amara Boxshall, but most people just call me Meg. I was born on November 5th, 2008, at Vancouver General Hospital, making me 14 years old. Despite being born in Vancouver, I’ve lived in Victoria my whole life, never once moving from my house in East Sooke. I attended Westmont Montessori until I was ten years old, and from there I moved to Brooke’s Westshore, where I’ve stayed for four years so far. Ever since I was a child I’ve loved everything about travelling; the flights, the countries, the cultures. In total, I’ve been to over seven different countries, each one bringing new adventures but my favourite being Greece. Aside from travel, I love playing volleyball, spending time with friends and family, swimming, and reading.

Ever since I discovered the Ranger’s Apprentice series at the age of nine, I’ve been in love with reading. That series was my first real introduction to fantasy, and from that moment onwards I’ve loved everything about the genre. As a very imaginative person, it feels as though I am transported to the world that I am reading about, and nothing else creates that same feeling. I’ve attempted to branch out, reading contemporary, classic, and even sci-fi novels, however, I always revert to my roots. It was not until I read the Throne of Glass series by the author Sarah J. Maas that I realized the possible world-building and characterization that could go into a book. I fell in love with the characters and worlds that Maas depicted, along with the structure she used for clarity.

Although I don’t often choose to write in my spare time, it is something I enjoy doing. I typically prefer creative writing to most other forms because it allows me to express myself and my creativity, however, I find myself enjoying the process of essay writing more than I care to admit. Despite the somewhat restrictive feature of an essay structure, the final draft’s flow makes the tedious process worthwhile. Although I don’t typically write in my free time, I recognize the importance of writing in various contexts and consider it a valuable skill.