2013-14 Honorable Mention Entries

Posted by & filed under Challenge.

The Life of an Observer by Grace John | St. Agnes Academy | Memphis, TN

Link to video here: http://youtu.be/jIwmr_TZUKQ

“To acquire knowledge, one must study; to acquire wisdom, one bust observe.” -Marilyn Vos Sevant

The road of observation has always been my road less travelled. It has always been the road I have taken, it has always been the road I have enjoyed the most. Through my observation of people, life and situations, I have learned many things about myself and others.

Concerning myself, I have learned that I enjoy watching people. I enjoy listening to the conversations they have with each other. I enjoy watching how people react to someone’s arrival or departure. I enjoy memorizing people’s quirks and habits. Observation has taught me that I enjoy all of those things, but more importantly, it has taught me how to observe myself. Through observing others, I have gained the skills required to observe myself and my own behavior, which allows me to better control my emotions and reactions. I observe myself in conversation; It’s as if there are two of me present at all times–one speaking and the other taking note of how the first replies to certain statements or questions so that I am able to improve my responses and make them more thoughtful. I also enjoy paying attention to the way that certain situations make me feel. If I begin to feel sad, I sit back and look at what is happening. I wonder why and I determine why so that, if I would truly like to, I can avoid these situations in the future or teach myself how to protect and prepare myself for them when the time comes for me to endure them again. I take note of facial expressions that I make at certain times or feelings that I get when I’m near certain people, thoughts that enter my head at certain times of day. Observation has, overall, taught me more about myself and my body and my reactions than, I believe, anything else ever could.

Concerning others, I have learned more about them through observation than I ever could through talking to them. As stated in my video, observation is beautiful because through observation you cannot be lied to. Entering someone’s bedroom alone can teach you a multitude of things about them. Their favorite color, their favorite band, their favorite texture, their deepest secrets, the things that they collect, the things that they don’t care for, the things that mean the most to them. If someone keeps movie stubs, they probably enjoy movies. If someone has a bookshelf full of books, they probably enjoy reading. Books on a shelf alone can tell you a lot about a person. What are their wildest dreams? What is that persons dream world? What does that person want to be when they grow up? I have learned all that there is to know regarding my friend’s interests solely by entering their bedrooms or reading their blogs. However, there is more to my observation of others than just their belongings. I also learn from the way they speak to me. I notice quirks. Grace Winburne repeats what I say to her when she gets excited. Marielle pronounces Mizzou as MIZzou and Mary faith as MARY faith. Nick used to stutter when he was interested in a subject. Chloe speaks slower when she is frustrated than she does when she is in a good mood. Noticing these types of things about people has taught me how to interpret their feelings and has also made it easier for me to communicate with them. As an observer I am able to predict moods and proceed accordingly. Being an observer has taught me many things and I am grateful that I have been blessed with the skills of an observer.

A Path Less Traveled – JCOS Lake Powell Trip 2013 by Bailey Bermond | Jefferson County Open School | Wheat Ridge, CO

Link to video here: http://youtu.be/cUND0nLinCg

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Back in the 70’s when the Open School was conceived, a tradition was born known as the Boundary Waters Trip, where students spend three weeks paddling and exploring the pristine waters of this canoe area wilderness in Minnesota and Canada.

We can notice a visible shift in climates around the world, and the BWCA is one of those places. The lakes were completely iced over, with a good four feet of snow above them in May when we have always gone. People were greatly affected in the area, and inevitably our trip was to be canceled. That is until we came together as a group and created something new. “Boundary Waters South” was off and rolling as we hit the road where no BW trip group has ever traveled before. We explored Utah—Lake Powell our destination—where we canoed about 60 miles.

Collectively as a group I think we all learned a lesson in letting go of expectations, and this yielded one of the most spontaneous, rewarding, and special journeys of our lives. This remained a theme during my four day solo experience when I had certain patterns in my thinking I was holding on to, which I describe in the film as fear. As I let go, instead of just surviving, I was finally living in awe of this incredible planet.

Throughout my journey, I have expanded my appreciation for the life-long learning JCOS teaches us and the important role nature plays as our classroom; for these are places that truly cultivate beautiful minds.

I am honored to share something so dear to my heart with you all at Marlboro College. Enjoy, and please watch in HD :)

The Never Ending Wave by Alexander Gold | Viewpoint School | Calabasas, CA

Alexander Gold

Most people think of the camera as an object that can catch individual moments of a trip or journey. However, I think of a series of images as a journey rather than individual pieces. Through the lens of my camera I’m showing a journey, whether it is hardship or success. In order to capture this moment I created a time lapse with shots from the break of dawn until the dark midnight sky. My grandpa, the man who taught me all about photography and the beauty one can show through art, taught me many things in life, but, there are two ideas that I worship most. He always told me that my life is unique, my path may be the same as someone else but the journey is always unique. Another reference he always told me about was the life of a wave. He said that like a human, the wave can fear its end because it never knows what happens once it crashes onto shore. He said that there is no end, because although that wave crashed it goes back into the sea and becomes another unique wave. After he passed I was inspired to do a shot like this that incorporated both of his lessons. I am fortunate enough to be given this opportunity to shoot the ocean because just like your path in life, each wave is unique. I like to think of the relationship of the waves in the ocean like my relationship with my grandpa because although he crashed like the wave, his ideas and his image live in me forever just like the wave goes back into the ocean.

I Don’t Ever Want to Be a Human Being by Yoni Bork | Agoura High School | Westlake Village, CA

Hello, my name is Yoni Bork and I am a sixteen year-old junior at Agoura High School. I wrote a song for the beautiful minds challenge. When I first took on the challenge, I was thinking for hours and hours about times I’ve taken “the road less traveled by” in my life, and I came to the conclusion that my whole life is a road less traveled by. The song talks about how I don’t self-identify or connect with most teenagers my age and how I see myself as being made from such a completely different mold than my peers are. While my peers are out gossiping and partying, I’m at home thinking up ways I can better the world. The title, “I Don’t Ever Want to be a Human Being” refers to how I don’t want to live my life in the same generic way that everybody does. I want to make something out of my life and I feel like I really have the power to “wake up” the world with my music if I put my all into it. Thank you so much for considering me in this challenge, I can’t wait to hear back from you!

A Musical Journey Down the Path Less Traveled by Oliver Zeichner | VAST Program | Northfield, VT

Music is a path that takes you to distant lands. When you are hot and dusty from travel, it leads you by a waterfall; when you are cold, it leads you to a cozy seat by the fire. Whatever you are capable of imagining is possible. That’s the feeling I get when I play traditional Irish music.

One of my favorite instruments in the tradition is the uilleann bagpipes: It’s clear sound is versatile enough to bring out the feeling in slow, emotional airs, as well as rousing, lively, make-you-want-to-dance jigs and reels. The sound is one that caused me to start my journey in folk music and start learning the instrument.
The path is like the trickle of a spring, slowly filling into pools and then growing from a slow moving stream to a chattering brook, and then a river which eventually washes into a bigger river and finally, to the ocean. When I began piping two years ago, I could barely coax more than a squawk out of the chanter, but in time my understanding of the instrument grew, and I could play simple pieces. With patience and an open mind, I have come to where I am now, somewhat proficient on the instrument and able to enjoy the results despite the challenges and work involved. The path to perfection is never ending, but like an experienced traveler must, I have learned to stop and look back at the view along the way.

Learning the intricacies of the tunes is a journey that is still ongoing for me, and I have certainly not mastered the uilleann pipes. The number of younger people playing the music in the area is not large, and often as not I am the youngest musician in the room. My instrument and the musical genre I play in are definitely the path less traveled for my age group, where most would rather partake in rap or other music associated with popular culture.

How I’ve Coped with Anxiety and Depression by Emma Studebaker | Alexander Hamilton High School | Los Angeles, CA

Link to the video here. http://vimeo.com/80707769

Over the course of the past month, creating this Beautiful Minds Challenge project has become very tangible proof of how far I’ve come in a year.
Last November, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I turned to therapy to try and alleviate my symptoms first. We later added psychiatry into the mix. Although I continue with therapy and take medication now, I’ve realized that clinical treatments–what may work for most people–don’t necessarily work for me.

I need something that helps reach the goal of not being stuck in these treatments forever… something that allows me to depend on myself. When I’m trying to perfect my kicks at karate, making art that deconstructs and rearranges the subject, or playing with sounds and chords on the piano, I feel an inner calm that lasts much longer than when I simply take medication or go to therapy.

Aside from the emotional journey that was the focus of this project, the creative process was a journey too. I had to storyboard my concept, map out when I could film, coordinate borrowing a camera to use, organize my time to accommodate homework among other things, and edit everything together.
As I reflect on this process, I see that my “road less traveled” lies in discovering concrete remedies for my maladies.

Me & Nicodermus by Ciat Conlin | Homeschool | Falmouth, MA

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It was late September, and I found myself with quite a bit of time on my hands in Tallahassee, Florida. I was visiting a friend of mine who was attending college there, and had arrived around ten that morning. She had classes for most of the day and suggested I hang around the campus, but I’ve always enjoyed exploring new places, so I decided to find out what Tallahassee had to offer.

About 15 minutes into my adventure, I was hopelessly lost. I was looking for a comic book store which was either on Moore or Mason Street. I was somewhere on the main drag, but not exactly sure which way I had come from. Behind me were a check-cashing store, a gas station, and a textbook store; ahead, a homeless shelter and a Popeye’s. But there was also a bus stop with a person sitting in it, so I opted to head that way and see if he or she knew where the comic book shop, and I, was.

The figure at the bus stop was a large man in a black novelty t-shirt that read “I’M RIGHT 97% OF THE TIME WHO CARES ABOUT THE OTHER 4%?” Though he was able to direct me to Mason Street (as its name turned out to be), I forgot his directions almost the moment after he told them to me. He offered to show me the way himself if I would buy him some lunch, and having nothing much else to do for the next several hours, we went to the Popeye’s that was beckoning to the right of the bus stop.

Once finished, we set off towards the center of town and for the next few hours he gave me a tour of the city, from phallically protruding state capitol building downtown, to the graveyard (where Ted Bundy was buried), the governor’s mansion (where my tour guide regularly spoke with the governor himself while he was gardening), the federal courthouse (where John Gotti was tried), and the best soul food restaurant in Tallahassee, where he said to take me in repayment the next time I was in town.

As we strolled down the sun-bleached sidewalks, I talked with him about his life since he’d moved to Tallahassee. He said his name was Nicodemus Milton, and he’d moved to the city to be closer to his kids, who lived over the border with their mother in Georgia; prior to that he had been a linebacker in the Cincinnati Bengals. He was trying to get a job in construction, but there weren’t many openings, and he had been living at a homeless shelter across the street from the bus stop where I’d met him. We stopped for a few minutes at a convenience store where I chatted with a couple of his friends while he went in for a beer, then made our way back to the college, being careful to avoid the drug addicts who lined the sidewalk like dead leaves on the rough side of town. As the evening approached, we returned to the bus stop, and I thanked him for showing me around and headed back to the college.

Two days later, I was running to catch my bus at 6:30 with two minutes to go before it was due to depart, and several blocks separating me from the bus station. I was carrying two heavy suitcases, and it didn’t look like I was going to make it. But as I turned a corner, I saw my friend Nicodemus again, and he offered to help me carry my luggage. Together, we were just able to get there in time, and I waved to him as my bus pulled out of the station.

Despite the fact that I only knew Nicodemus for a few hours, this encounter has stayed with me. In between the tall tales was a real person who’d lived a decidedly different life from my own, and while his history of the city was fiction, the history of his life was genuine. Had I not gotten myself lost and chosen to take the road less traveled by accepting his help and company, I most likely would just have passed him by, and would not have had the experience of getting to know Nicodemus for those few hours in late September.
I’ve written songs, stories, and essays trying to convey my experience with Nicodemus Milton, but nothing quite captures the time as clearly as I can picture it in my head. These four pictures represent my personal perspective of the places, and my memories of Nicodemus’ and my adventures on the streets of Tallahassee.

Fallen by the Weighside by Ariel Lancaster and Karuna Kindfield | The Farm School | Summertown, TN

Ariel_Lancaster-Fallen_by_The_Weighside_(Opens PDF in a new window)

Creating the submission itself was a road less traveled, because neither of us had worked with making a digital presentation prior to this project. Included in our presentation is both photographic representation of my journey and prose telling what I learned and how I got where I am today. In writing about my journey I had to explore depths of my mind that I had willingly left as uncharted territory. My partner, Karuna, had to explore her creativity as she incorporated my prose into a digital presentation.
In submitting my personal story to your judgment, I have stepped well outside my comfort zone. I’ve gone from being the girl who shared nothing about herself to sharing one of my most personal stories with a group of strangers. Life is a journey, everyone has the choice to either stick to the well-paved road or follow a new path. We are both happy to have the opportunity to step off the trail and test new ground.

Border of Light by Eugene Lee | Centennial Christian School International | Gwangmyong-si, South Korea

Call I do the light entrance

Hear I do the light border.

All I long is scent of citrus

But all they tell is good of order

 

In this dark hollowness

The passage of empty wind

Where we bear callow teeth

Since light has fled as if it sinned.

 

Old and wise all held my wings;

More I hear the treasure it brings

I know my eyes are not for shines

But dust I’ll find in dark of mines.

~

Bats are poor creatures. Even though an awesome superhero Batman was named after them, their living is pathetic. They lurk in dark caves, upside-down, eating worms and bugs that live in their dungs. I bet Batman himself doesn’t like bats, to be honest.

Still, in my poem, the narrator is a bat who wanted to escape from the dark, gloomy cave. The reason why I chose such miserable thing as my poem is because some of the bats, depending on the species, can actually live outside the caves. Our bat, the narrator, does not know whether he is right kind of bat to enjoy the light. Bats around him, especially the older and wiser ones, advise him to stay where he is. Usually it is safer to do what others do and what others ask you to do. However, the bat that stays in the cave will not even have a chance to find out whether he’s the right kind or not. Sometimes, it is necessary to challenge what others do not usually do to see beyond.

I just wanted to say this through my poem- don’t be afraid to take a road less taken. Not every steps we take will be the same as other’s; I sincerely hope not. Sooner or later we all have to take our own steps and make our own roads. The roads may not always take you where we want to go, but surely it will be a valuable experience for other steps.

The Journey is Life by Katherine McCaffery and Mary Kate Dockery | St. Agnes Academy | Memphis, Tennessee

Link to video here: http://youtu.be/hDvKa3yRCqc

As teenagers, it’s not common to stay at school on a Friday night, and even less so to stay there to ponder the meaning of life. But that’s what we did. We struggled with the idea of a ‘road less traveled’ and in searching for this road we realized something unexpected: the ultimate road you travel is life, and as original beings, the road each of us travel down is a road less traveled.

We share a common identification as ‘old souls.’ We listen to older music and read classic literature. Most importantly though, we think about what most teenagers don’t: the meaning of life. The following two paragraphs are our own personal views of a ‘road less traveled’:

Mary Kate:  In an era where phrases such as “YOLO” and “SWAG” are so prominent, the main focus of teenagers is to live in the moment, to only think about the here and now.  Therefore, the road less traveled that I took was choosing not to be so close minded, to think about the entirety of life. There is so much more to life than daily high school routines. People have taken some amazing roads less traveled in the past, such as discovering America, writing symphonies, and building rockets. Even in the future, people will choose new paths. However, the first step of taking the road less traveled is thinking, and we have taken that first step down our road of life.

Katherine: Personally, I view life as a journey determined by the choices we make. I am a romanticist, however, and I believe in fate; some things are meant to be. They are set in stone and immovable. Others are flexible and bending, yielding to the will of those who have the strength and determination to change them. Fate and human intervention combine to form what we know as life. Humans have the power to change fate through the choices they make. These choices may go on to completely change not only their own path, but the paths of all those who come after them. Though contradictory, these two philosophies contain in them my view of a ‘road less traveled.’

Life is a road; it has turns, stop signs, and hills. Each of us travels down the same road of life, but none of us have the same journey. Some people take the highway, going through life at breakneck speed, never looking back but only ahead. Others prefer the city streets, with various stops and turns. Still others take the country roads, the ‘scenic route,’ where they take time to admire the scenery and maybe even stop for a picnic. Death is not the end of the road, nor is it the beginning of a new one–it is a continuation of the road we are already on, but it is a road no one can see until it is upon us.

No one experiences the same experiences, says the same words, sees the same sights, or thinks the same thoughts; so, in effect, every life is a road less traveled. Every journey is new as every person is original.

Helping the Homeless by Catherine “Lee” Chiozza and Jennifer Jones | St. Agnes Academy | Memphis, Tennessee

Link to video here: http://youtu.be/rJqUQizF28s

There is an average of 633,782 homeless people in the United States in 2013. Many of them are lonely, suffering mentally and physically, hungry, and being ignored by people in the community. We witnessed homeless people on the streets in Memphis, Tennessee. There were homeless women and men asking for money for food, and they were being shunned or neglected in the community.

We witnessed a woman standing on the side of the street holding a sign that says, “Homeless and Hungry.” Many cars driving by did not stop to help the woman nor did anyone attempt to give her money or food. In fact, most of the people in their cars turned their head or did not look at her. However, we wanted to reach out and take the road less travelled by giving her some money to have a warm meal.

The homeless man, seen in the video, named Morris has been without permanent shelter for over ten years. He spends time outside a Memphis Midtown office building. He is well known to business people working in the area. Morris is known to be harmless and friendly on most days. We saw him asking individuals for money. He looked unkept, cold and hungry. Most people avoided him or did not want to help with his requests. We approached him with a bag that included snacks, canned food, utensils, toiletries, a blanket, and a few dollars.

We wanted to bring some joy to those less fortunate believing they were indeed hungry. We know we cannot make an impact alone but hope others will take the road less travelled. We hope to offer some generosity and kindness to those in need.

Offering Hope to the World by Princess Mae Visconde and Sherlynn Garces | James Campbell High School | Ewa Beach, HI

Link to video here: http://youtu.be/SinpG20F-fQ

For the beautiful minds challenge we decided to choose the journey of our faith as the “road less traveled.” From our perspective we find that in today’s society there are not many teenagers who go to church or respect the churches view on life. We chose this as our journey because we wanted to show how we took the road that is less traveled in today’s world. Throughout our journey we learned more about our faith through catechism classes, church retreats, events, and church ministries. As Catholics, our faith journey is our growing relationship with God and through our video we allowed you to take a glimpse of our continuous journey.

High school was where we both started to learn more about Catholicism and figured out where exactly we stood in our faith. Throughout the years, we were both able to strengthen our faith within ourselves and our God through our faith journeys. We are able to fall back on our faith when everything around us falls apart. We chose to take catechism classes and to get confirmed in the Catholic Church to further commit our lives the way Jesus wants us to. Through this commitment, we are on a continuous journey with Christ. We were chosen by God to walk on this faith journey with Him.

Through the course of our journey we learned how important it is to have faith. Having faith is everything. We learned that no matter what, God is always going to be there. God is there through our struggles and he is there through our victories. Through this journey, we have learned and experienced how great God’s love truly is and how all He wants is for us to be with Him in heaven. We have learned to accept that God allows hardships to happen to show us that we are strong and that we are blessed. This journey has opened our eyes, our minds, and our hearts more to understand what God has in store for each of us.

We are able to see ourselves grow in our faith but we are also able to bring others along this journey to grow as well. We offer hope to one another through prayer and through our never ending love for God and others. We seek that everyone finds hope in Christ, the way we did. We offer hope by sharing our faith journeys and how this journey has changed our lives for the better.

Our journey of faith has been nothing but beautiful. It’s beautiful to see how much we both have grown in our faith and to see the outcome of it in our own lives. It’s beautiful to see how our own hardships and struggles can be true blessings that are in disguise. For others to see how strong of a heart we have for God at our age is amazing. This journey is beautiful because we’re helping to grow the kingdom of God. Our faith journey is truly amazing and we have seen it inspire others to start walking their faith journey.

It Feels So Scary, Getting Old by Hannah Hudson | Lakeside High School | Martinez, GA

My journey in discovering music, and myself in the process, has helped me in so many ways. Music has changed my life exponentially. A song can encapsulate a single moment, a single emotion, and allow you to relive that moment over and over again. String these moments together and you have a story. It’s fair to say that everyone experiences this, but it’s also a fair assessment to say that not everyone truly lives in the singular moments that music presents us with. As Dave Grohl said, “That’s one of the great things about music. You can sing a song to 85,000 people and they’ll sing it back for 85,000 different reasons.”

Music gives voice to the thoughts and emotions that you didn’t have the words to express. It can ground you, and it can give you wings. It’s difficult to fully express how music has impacted my life and my love for it (unfortunately I have yet to find a song that does this for me). Music has become my friend on those days when I don’t quite feel like talking to anyone else in ‘real life.’ It drowns out all of the useless chatter that pounds against my temple otherwise. It makes me feel safe. Bands, in addition, have opened up to me what doing what you really love looks like. That’s not to say that they’re the only ones who love what they do, they’re just the ones that made me realize that not everyone does things purely for the money. They inspire me to pursue what genuinely makes me happy. When you see such small-town nothings rise to fame, it’s hard not to believe in your own dreams of success and happiness.

I hope that through this playlist you are able to experience with me the journey I have gone on, from before I discovered music, to afterwards. Though, once I managed to discover music and hear its message, I found that music wasn’t the summit of my journey. Music is the rock that supports me as I decide to make that journey. It’s the voice that whispers comfort in my ear. Music is what makes the journey possible.

First, a brief explanation of my submission, the playlist itself, since it’s a bit abstract:

Everyone listens to music, but no two people hear the same song in the same way. For some people, music is just nice; for others, it’s like their lifeblood, as essential as air. Personally, I could listen to music all day, uninterrupted, if I had the right playlist. Every moment between classes that I can steal, I listen to music. Not all people truly love and experience music, and that is why this is my interpretation of “a road less traveled.”

Of course, it would be very difficult to construct a playlist centered around the love of music since not many songs actually focus on this concept, much like it would be hard to find a book on books. So instead, I chose to do the next best thing: create a playlist that depicts the journey and struggle of growing up. More specifically, growing up with music.

The playlist flows from childhood, to adolescence and the inevitable uncertainty that comes along with it, to when you tentatively test the waters for the first time, and unfortunately discover a shark that bites you on your first try, making you hesitant to try again.

But then, there is music.

It is a revelation. It is empowering. Solace and adrenaline and courage, all condensed into one slick, vinyl package. Suddenly the world is open; it’s an adventure, a challenge just waiting to be answered. You realize that you can do anything, and that you don’t want to miss any opportunity. There’s fresh air in your lungs and a full feeling in your chest.

Finally, you get away, away from the incumbents of the past, away from the familiar. You’re not afraid this time. You travel the world – and you conquer it. You have surmounted every obstacle life has thrown at you, and all because of music. Music is what liberated you and gave you the strength.

“It feels so scary, getting old” // The Road Less Traveled: a playlist.

Tracklist:

  1. Hands Remember – Seabear
  2. Kids – MGMT
  3. In the Summer – Finish Ticket
  4. Pioneers – The Lighthouse and The Whaler
  5. Ghost – Aisling MacAonghusa
  6. Young Lion – Vampire Weekend
  7. Ribs – Lorde
  8. Reaching the Potential – A Silent Film
  9. Big Bad World – Kodaline
  10. Iscariot – Walk the Moon
  11. Wild Country – Wake Owl
  12. Mad Sounds – Arctic Monkeys
  13. If You DIdn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On the Dancefloor) – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
  14. A Song is a Weapon – Stars
  15. Overcome – New Politics
  16. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend
  17. Band New Day – Kodaline
  18. Life in Technicolor ii – Coldplay
  19. Come Together – Echosmith
  20. We’re Coming Up – For the Foxes
  21. Young Volcanoes – Fall Out Boy
  22. Do or Die – Thirty Seconds to Mars
  23. Dreams – Youngblood Hawke
  24. Nova Scotia – Magic Man
  25. Carelessly – Prince of Spain (ft. Dresses)
  26. The North – Stars
  27. Away We Go – Prince of Spain
  28. Next Year – Two Door Cinema Club
  29. Texas – Magic Man
  30. We Come Running – Youngblood Hawke
  31. Anna Sun – Walk the Moon

The Voyage of a Lifetime by Quinn Oliver | Compass School | Marlboro, VT

The_Voyage_of_a_Lifetime (opens a PDF in a new window)

My name is Quinn Oliver and I live in Marlboro, Vermont. Enclosed please find my creative submission called: The Voyage of a Lifetime. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading it and gaining a bit of insight into my journey.
On this voyage I have learned quite a lot about myself and who I am, and I hope to learn quite a lot more. I have been out to sea for well over a month and a half now and I’m finding myself appreciating it more and more every day. After the initial struggles of packing up and moving on to a boat for five months and the realization that for the next five months I would be practically be without friends due to the majority of my friends living in vermont and the fact that after a week or so we pack up and sail further southward, the issues have seemed to be sucked away by the beauty of the water. It’s hard to not realize that this is an incredible opportunity, however as my friends don’t understand, even an offer similar to this has quite a few severe draw backs.

I feel that during this journey I have begun to conquer some of my personal fears. Though I have been raised around the water, doing something like this is a completely unknown to me. The fear of the unknown is personally one of my greatest fears. Couple that with my fear of change and those two are a might brew. By undertaking this adventure, I have had to address both of these fears head on. The constantly changing and unreliable schedule has certainly tested my fear of change, while the entire voyage has made me push past my fear of the unknown, for now at least.

I feel I have also learned about myself in a more concrete manner. Before this voyage, I had minimal sailing experience. But now I would even seriously consider the sailing lifestyle for my life. Granted, I would more then likely have to have a close friend or girlfriend aboard with me. The loneliness at times can be intense. However I have found if you keep busy that feeling of dreaded loneliness quickly disappears. Before this trip I had believed in myself to an extent, but now I believe that I can do almost anything I decide to put my heart into.

My Path Through Make Believe Reality by Anna Keeva | Evanston Township High School | Evanston, IL

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Some people travel by sidewalk or train, but I dance, or fly, or ride on the back of a talking pig to get to where I want to go. The road I travel is an imaginary one. As I’ve grown up, I’ve held on tightly to the made up games and imaginary friends that flooded my childhood. I always have a song in my head and a fictional world in my eyes. I use my creativity and imagination to propel me through life. My path is always expanding with new turns and discoveries and then I get so full of ideas that they bubble up out of me and transform into art. Instead of getting caught up in the repetition and stress around me, I dance and sing down my own magical path.

I have learned how not to be lonely or bored. I can sit by myself in my room, but be entertained by the communities and creatures that exist in my thoughts and in my art and in my body when I dance and move. I have learned how to appreciate and enjoy even the dullest of places by becoming an explorer and creating my own stories and history. I have learned to make a long car ride in the dark a magical and exciting adventure. I have learned to understand and connect with the various people I meet that resemble the characters I know so well in my mind. I have learned how to make anything exciting and entertaining. I have learned that “real” has many meanings. And I have learned that with creativity and imagination, a straight, dull path turns into a twisting, exciting one and that on this kind of path, life is a whole lot more fun.

It’s a Feeling by Alek Lockhart | Southwest High School | Minneapolis, MN

Link to video here:

My road less traveled was a river. I was on it for 30 days with some friends. I learned on that journey that a road less traveled isn’t a just remote area that not many people have been to; it’s a feeling. I can only draw on my experiences, but I get the same feeling that I got on that trip when I do something new on my skateboard, or come at a math problem from a new direction. Anything can get you there; it’s all up to you.

I learned that whatever I do, I could get that feeling from it. That changed my life. I strive to do things in a new and different way, because I love the feeling of walking on that road. I hope you like my movie.

Going on Foot by Louisa Perry-Farr | Lexington Catholic High School | Lexington, KY

Here is the saddest moment of my life: a fly with only one wing.

I spread strawberry jelly over a piece of bread as I watch him. Crawling.

Crawling after flying.

After being able to lift and dive and swoop.

After taking flight at the slightest hint of danger, he crawls. I put a piece of bread on top of the jelly.

How cruel, for him to have lost his livelihood and not his life.

There is no hope for a fly who cannot fly, yet he continues.

He cannot understand how soon his life will end. I cannot eat the sandwich.

We sit together- he crawling, continuing to tramp his perpetual journey.

Me crying, knowing that his journey will be as short as his life was unappreciated.

Knowing that I once crawled.

Knowing that I only had the courage to crawl, because I knew I would fly again.

My journey is an unconventional one. The journey that I wrote about is not only mine, but what I imagined the journey of my companion (the fly) to be. I have always been empathetic to the suffering of other creatures, but it was watching that particular fly that both brought me to tears and to a realization about myself. I learned that I am not “more than” that fly. Human beings have a bad habit of placing ourselves on the top of the totem pole, when we should be the farthest on the bottom. I don’t say this because I’m an eccentric loner who hates other people (because I’m not). I say this because human beings are the only creatures with the ability to fully comprehend the difference between right and wrong, and yet we continue to commit heinous crimes against each other and other creatures. What I mean when I say I am not “more than” that fly is that my suffering is not more important than his. His life is not made legitimate or illegitimate by my observing him. He is his own being, and his pain is as real as my pain would be if I lost a leg. In fact, his pain is greater, because I can survive with one leg. His chances of survival disappeared when he lost his wing. In observing him, I thought about the times in my life when I had lost something dear to me. My only feeling towards that fly is admiration, because I never would have had the courage to crawl, if I hadn’t had the foresight to know I could fly again. Of course, the fly didn’t know about his impending doom, and he can’t think about the future. But knowledge isn’t what makes a creature great. When you have done exactly what you were born to do, and harmed none in the process, that is when you are great. I can honestly say that the fly has beaten me to greatness, and is far nearer to spiritual perfection than I am. But that is where our journey intersects. His ends with crawling.I am crawling towards who I am meant to be now. I can at least hope that my journey will end in flight.

Just the Way You Are by Jennifer de Haro and Judith Olascoaga | Arroyo Valley High School | San Bernadino, CA

These days, all people do is try their best to fit in with what society shows. They need to have the latest trend. They need to be the type of skinny they see on their television or magazine. They need to have better clothes than everyone. In our opinion, life shouldn’t be that way. Mostly everyone tries to take the easy road and be like everyone else. They don’t see what they really are in the inside. They care about what others see in them when they should care about how they see themselves. Calling themselves ugly, fat, fake, etc. doesn’t help them. Rather, they should focus on the good things about them like their personality, their beautiful eyes, hair, etc. They need to be unique. Going through the road we took we realized being yourself is something we should all do. This experience showed us fitting in with everyone isn’t how life should be. One of us was close to taking the common road but knew that wasn’t the right path.

The reason we wrote this is to help others. We need a world where being ourselves isn’t something strange. These days you get judged by anything! This road we took should be taken more. Who cares if you aren’t what people want you to be? Be yourself. That’s what this is all about.

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