life is what we make it

August 25, 2010

I am preparing to begin a story about a young graduate student. Her story is just like the next girl’s, except that hers involves a few more struggles.

She moved here from India six years ago; she’s also a burn victim and has the scars to prove it.

Yet, instead of allowing those scars to hold her back, she has used this possibly debilitating experience to springboard her into a fulfilling life and career that she holds close to her heart–recuperating burn victims.

It’s always inspiring to hear about people who deal with traumatic events and take the less traveled route of conquering them rather than being conquered. These individuals represent strength and a deep amount of self worth and motivation that many admire, feeling as though they could never measure up to that.

It’s true that most of us will never experience a shooting spree, lose a limb, be thrown from a burning vehicle, be kidnapped, lose a child, etc.

But many of us will cope with divorce, be disappointed by a loved one, lose our job, get cancer.

What will we do when that happens?

These stories of coping with seemingly insurmountable obstacles can not only inspire us but also incite us to action. They can help us to see that if they can cope with their trial, we can cope with ours.

Life is too short and too precious to throw it away–under any circumstances.

Sadly, some of us are too quick to do that.

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I’ve always known that knowledge is important. My school teachers droned on about it; my parents repeatedly reminded me of it; and various public service advertisements would use famous people to persuade me to believe it.

Okay, I get it. It’s got power. Whatever.

Yet, it wasn’t until I entered my adult years and experienced the everyday trials of simply living that I really began to appreciate the wide-ranging benefits of having and using knowledge.

It is powerful.

Learning how to get a loan, understanding why not paying off credit cards immediately can wreak disastrous effects, investigating what’s under the hood of my automobile, finding out how warranties can be comforting security blankets.

And most recently for me, figuring out what to look for in a laptop.

When I first perused my online laptop options, most would agree with me when I say that the sheer volume of choices could keep a person’s head spinning for days. And mine sure did.

Processors, hard drives, gigabytes, RAM, optical drives. I just wanted one that was fast and pretty.

At least, I thought that’s all I wanted.

The nice thing about the Internet is, if you use trustworthy sites, it takes no time at all to learn everything you need to know about any given topic.

And people are pretty quick and eager to give their opinion, especially if it’s anonymous.

I found very quickly that Intel and AMD are the leading processors, with Intel coming in just a hair ahead, and AMD being more useful for “gamers.” After that, I read about the types of processors: single, dual core and on up. The bigger the number, the faster the speed—I determined.

Same thing goes for memory (RAM) and the hard drive. Of course, most of us know that, but what I didn’t know is how much is too much or too little.

With a little more online investigating and face-to-face salesperson discussions, though, I found my answers. I finally settled on a Toshiba with an Intel i3 processor, 4 GB RAM and 500GB hard drive.

But I tell you what—the feeling of walking into a store and having an educated conversation about products, without embarrassment of appearing stupid or ill-equipped, and knowing the right questions to ask so as to make the right purchase, that’s priceless.

And powerful.

b-ball babies

February 28, 2010

I spent one afternoon sitting in the student section at a college basketball game.

It was fun . . . at first:

I could deal with the fact that we were losing–it’s a reality of life we all must come to grips with. But the students on the other hand, the students I could not deal with.

I came about an inch away from throwing my half-eaten hot dog at a saxaphone player in the band who would not stop heckling the opposing team. Why? Well, because they were beating our team, of course.

I mean, what other reason is needed to mock and scream unceasingly at another human being solely for the reason that he chose to go to a school other than yours, probably for the simple fact that he was born in a different area than you, which is totally under his control.

It makes me feel all warm inside to think that these beautiful young people will one day procreate and breed screaming, prejudiced offspring of their own.

And then I began to notice that the students weren’t the only tongue-wagging offenders in the arena.

So I guess things never really change, do they?

They say, high school is a picture of real life. The cliques, the peer pressure, the gossip. Anyone who works in an office can attest to that.

Add to that, the nationalistic prejudice breeded into us from pre-school on with the national anthem, the academic snobbery of college, and the religious close-mindedness of adulthood.

No wonder the world is a scary place.