Thursday, October 13, 2011

Food for Thought

There I was, sitting across the tacky table at Ihop from my mother, suddenly noticing how much things have changed. She gave me a sneaking glance as she stole my last piece of bacon, and I let out a smile. I don’t remember when we began eating there, or who proposed the idea first. Breakfast was her favorite meal and I guess she just dragged me along. I was always okay with it; she paid.

It was always just me and her, something that did not happen very often. What was even odder was that I relished these Sunday breakfasts before I jetted off to work. I liked the alone time with my mom. With her I didn’t have to talk about school and responsibilities. She didn’t put any pressure on me like my dad often did. I got to tell her was I was actually thinking. It was new, this relationship with her.

I remember rather clearly two years ago in gym telling my friends all about the whole sob story divorce. I do remember- and I’m not ashamed of it- telling them how I thought she was a bad mom.

In retrospect she was a flawed mother. After the divorce it was like a switch flipped off in her and everything before that was just some large charade. She partied, dated men with long beards and no jobs, smoked cigarettes; just things that she had never, ever done before. I grew sick of it, fighting with her and eventually moving out of her house. As the months went by I saw her mere days out of the month, and I grew to hate her. In my mind by sophomore year, she was just someone to be tolerated.

As the waitress lays down the bill my mom smiled at me. “Do you need money for lunch? I could swing by and drop something off?” I shook my head no. She scooted out of the booth, walking toward the cashier. It was then I heard my dad’s voice, hitting me for no reason whatsoever.

“You just have to accept people for who they are. They’re not going to change and if you want them in your life you’re going to have to deal with it.” he said it to me when I was being particularly nasty about my mom sophomore year. I had just told him that I did not think I would ever be able to get past what she had done to the family. I didn't understand it at first, but know i think i have a firm grasp of the concept. It was about understanding people and accepting that they’re not always going to live up to what they’re supposed to. I had expectations for my mom that she had shattered again and again. I just could not understand how she could leave her kids like that. I felt unloved back then. And there was my dad asking me to accept her for who she was.

It sounded like such an odd thing to say at the moment, and it was certainly what I did not want to hear, but as my mom walked back to the booth I was glad I took the advice to heart. By no means is she the best mom. She is selfish and often puts her needs before ours. I’ve come to accept that about her though. I understand that she loves us even if she has a childish way of showing it. I can accept that about her and somehow, I no longer feel I have to hate her. She rarely ever falls short of my expectations anymore. I don’t know if I would have found a new friend in my mom if I had not listened to him.

What I do know is that breakfast on Sunday is probably one of the best ways to start off the week.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Importance of a Legacy

The human life span is small, to say the least. They last only about eighty years. In comparison to the long time humans have walked the Earth, it is very small indeed. In life human’s really have no way to be permanent or immortal.

Humans have the capacity to realize their end. It is a unique quality that they have, to realize that they, as a race, barely brush the surface to Earth’s history. With this humans have created a sort of general acceptance of this fleeting existence.

In a smaller sense there is a much simpler thinking to it. People do not often go to lengths to accept the fact that what they do in this life does not matter. In fact, they often have a glorified ideal of their names remembered through the ages. Instead of understanding that sooner or later everything gets washed away, people want to believe that their memory or theiressence will live on.

So what they do instead is look beyond their lifespan and try to create a sort of legacy when they go. Something so they will be remembered. A book, a song, a note to your spouse, something so that they will not be forgotten. That is where human’s immortality lies. That is where their hope lies; in their legacy.

This gives people hope so they can live forever. In a way, Gilgamesh is immortal. He has died but he lives on in his tales. People still recognize him as a person. His quest for immortality did not fail, in fact it did quite the contrary, it let him be remembered forever.

That is why people become presidents, why they strive to be good at anything. They want to be good because they want to live on. They want to be remembered as the founder of the successful company, the builder of the tallest building. All these things, even if they now have social implications thrown in, are done for their legacy.

If this wasn't the case, what would drive humans to outdo each other? For the sake of competition? Then where did this need to be better come from? People would not want to better themselves if they knew it was going to disappear once their eighty years of life. People want to be recognized for their achievements. This makes people feel safe somehow, because humans are always worried about being forgotten.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Heroic Ideal

Wow, that’s quite a lot of questions. I’ll just start with the first one.

All of these creative works have a central meaning. They revolve around the actions of the heroes. They stress the importance of their success. As we spoke about in class the characters all go on a quest, be it accidentally or willingly. Each of the protagonists gain something from these quests, and they are almost always changed for the better.

As for what is a hero, they are the grand ideal of human society (in creative works at least). They have traits that the people value. They are courageous, moral people who rise up against challenges and evil. Heroes are what people hope for when they have nothing, what people hope to be in the face of a difficult choice. These people are held in such high esteem that heroes seem unnaturally perfect.

In real life, heroes do not have all of these traits. Firefighters and policemen are heroes because they give their lives to save people. Revolutionaries can be heroes because they risk everything for what they believe in. Presidents were once thought to be heroes for their incorruptibility and high moral standards.

In writing, it is almost like heroes are an exaggeration of these traits. Most all heroes are willing to risk there live to save people and to stand up against wrongdoing. They are incorruptible and preserver through tremendous obstacles. In Lord of the Rings Frodo, though tempted with the evil of the ring ultimately makes the right choice and overcomes evil.

Of course women can be heroines! The traits of heroes are not gender exclusive. They are, however, more inclined to be described to a male (at least prior to the 20th century). Men are expected to go on journeys, to go out and right the wrongs (and so on and so forth…), but women were not always viewed in the same light as men. This is why men are always pictured as the hero; women are only just starting to shed their bad rap.

The most important attribute to heroes seems to me that they are incorruptible. They do not give into temptation. The reason this trait is so important to becoming a hero has to do with the fact that people in general will never be able to step away from temptation. Since heroes are the ideal, people like to believe that they cannot be corrupted; which in turn shows hope for themselves.

People need to have heroes. They need to have standards to which they can always hope to strive towards. Heroes represent everything a person can hope they could be, and if there were no heroes, there would be no hope to be better.

What Bertolt Brecht meant by saying “Unhappy the land that needs heroes”, was that if people need heroes than that means that they themselves have not reached that level of excellence. It shows that they are weak, and that on some level they know they are not perfect.