Sunday, November 13, 2011

High school sports

High school in general is a point in life where kids begin to learn and develop qualities that will help them later on in life. Within high school, there are different parts that teach you different things. You've got your classes you go to every day that are divided into different subjects to teach you the basics of that subject and to develop your problem-solving skills on different ways. Then there is sports, my favorite aspect of high school. Different sports need their players to meet certain physical and mental characteristics, therefore developing different traits necessary for life. My high school offers many different sports, all the main ones such as football and baseball for the boys, and volleyball and soccer for the girls, as well as a bunch of others, such as tennis, badminton, wrestling, basketball, and my favorite, cross country.
            "Four fifty-nine! Four fifty-nine! You are looking great bud, keep it up!" A coach from another team called out to his runner as we finished the first loop and passed the first mile marker. We were about one-third of the way  through with the race, as this particular course is a 5k, five kilometers or about 3.1 miles, and I was already breathing heavily, a little too heavily to be completely honest. Despite the rapidly increasing breathing rate and the longer, more calm breaths being replaced by shorter gasps, I kept close with the pack. There was one guy from Del Campo who had gotten out to a big lead and had distanced himself from the rest of us, but the next fifteen people were all within ten seconds of each other. We neared the turn to go into the loop again for the second time and I was hurting. My legs ached, my lungs burned, and I started to drop a little bit, four spots to be exact. I fell from 10th to 14th, the back of the pack we had formed. My confidence was fading fast, and as the other runners passed by, I couldn't help thinking back to that rather fast start I had and second guessing it. My mind began to spin and all the things a runner is not supposed to worry about during a race came flooding in. The thought of letting my team down if I fell off from the pack, letting myself down, and every pain felt a million times worse. As we went up and over the first of many hills in that loop I heard my coach, "You need to move up, Jordan. We need you right now! Don't let them get away! Move!" I began to think about everything I had done to prepare for this particular race, the seven months of exhausting training I had done to do well here. I began to pick up speed and I passed a guy going over a hill. The pack had stretched out so I had a little more ground to make up than I would have liked, but I began to move up. The finish line was about 800 meters away and I knew I had to get at least one more guy. I shot passed him and ended up finishing just good enough; good enough to be the first person my coach has ever had qualify to race at the State meet.
            Cross country has taught me many different things. I run myself to exhaustion every day, just so I can do it again the next day, and the next day, and then in the upcoming race. It's voluntarily putting yourself through pain just because. It teaches its participants mental toughness and determination, the will to never let yourself give up, no matter the pain you are in. The previously mentioned race is an example of these traits put on display. I was hurting in every muscle I have in my legs, yet I pushed on. My lungs burned from the shortage of oxygen getting to them, yet I pushed on. I had an abdominal hernia, so every step I took resulted in my receiving a little jolt of pain in my abs, yet I pushed on. I pushed on because my mind has been molded to deal with pain, to accept it as a matter of life and move on because if you don't, there is zero chance that you will have even a smidgen of success in the sport of cross country.
            There are more sports than just cross country, as you know, which is where other traits are acquired. Now I don't have a story for football as I did for cross country because I do not play football, but unlike cross country where the concept of mental toughness overrides all others, the game of football requires mainly physical toughness. In football, players run down the field as fast as they can to hit another player as hard as they can. For sixty straight minutes, players mash into each other, seeing who can hit the hardest the longest because whoever that is, whichever team is the most physically fit will usually end up winning the game.
            Another sport that contributes a different trait is tennis. Tennis is not about toughness, mentally or physically, it is about being smart. Just because you can hit a tennis ball harder than your opponent does not mean you will beat them. In tennis you must know when it would be better to smash or to go for a finesse shot into a corner where your opponent cannot reach. You must know when to come up right next to the net to try shorten your opponent's reaction time and when to stay back and let them come to you. 
            The developing of greater reactions and greater reaction speed can be credited to baseball. How long do you have to react when a guy throws you a 90 mph fastball? What makes it even tougher is that you do not know whether it's going to be a fastball or a curveball or a changeup or anything else. You have to read it out of the pitcher's hand and immediately react to what is coming.
            Every trait a sport helps you develop can be used later on in life. When you and your spouse are going through that fight that may lead to a divorce, mental toughness comes into play. That physical toughness comes in handy when you are redecorating your house to make it safer for the baby that is on its way. When you meet that "carpet cleaner" who says he'll clean your carpets for free, those street smarts will kick in and save you from losing all you've got. and who knows what's going to happen when you're driving down the street in the pouring rain and you can't see more than ten feet in front of you; that's where reactions come in. All sports benefit you in some way or another down the road, so get out there and participate.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Definition essay: Wealth

In today's society, when a person speaks of wealth, they are usually referring to having a rather large amount of money, being rich. When you Google search "wealthiest men in the world", people such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are the top hits. But whatever happened to wealth being more than just money, but more along the lines of a loving family and caring friends? A person's wealth is not defined by the amount of money they have saved up in the bank, or how fat their wallet is. Being wealthy is when a person is blessed to have a family that loves and cares about them, with an abundance of friends who feel the same way.
            Wealth and happiness sort of go arm-in-arm if you think about it. People believe that if you are wealthy, you are happy, which is true only if your view on wealth is having a good family. If you really sat down and thought about it, the majority of people's main goal in life is to accumulate as much money as they can in their relatively short existence to try to be happy. Money is their key to everything. That new, fancy, do-it-all car they "have to have", the newest, fastest phone, it all costs money, yet what personal value does it have? They are just objects of which you waste countless hours of your life occupying yourself with. Heck, some see money as a way to get them a wife, which, sadly, is true these days, as young women go around looking for rich old men to marry, they're only reason being that they will receive the old man's fortune once he passes. People seem to think that the more money they have, the more fun they'll have in life, and the more of a chance they have of being remembered. However, who will possess and pass down all those memories of you and your life to future generations? Family or money? Last time I checked, money could not speak. So what will be more useful as you near the end of your life, money or a compassionate family? When the game of life begins the final home stretch, memory begins to fade, aches and pains are newly discovered every morning as it takes multiple frustrating attempts to climb out of bed, and everything just seems to be going wrong, the support and compassion of your wealth of family and friends is the only antidote.
            I read a book, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, in which the main character, Amir, is born into a rich family. His father is a highly respected man in the Afghan society and money flows into their household. With this abundance of money, Amir has the ability to buy pretty much anything his little heart desires, yet he is still incredibly unhappy. His mother died when he was born, for the most part his father views him as a disappointment, and the rest of his family does not appreciate him. The only time he is truly happy is when he becomes truly wealthy, when he and his father move to America. Upon arriving in the United States, Amir and his father were completely broke. As Amir was more of a grown up now, his father began to respect him and treat him as an equal. He began to show compassion toward Amir and their relationship grew. They immediately began to work in order to support themselves as best they could in their economic situation. They lived in a bus that they also drove around during the day to flea markets to buy items they could then go sell. At one particular flea market Amir meets a woman whom he ends up marrying. When Amir marries this particular woman, he has almost no money, but his wife and father both loved him, and he became a truly wealthy man.
            Though I have no income besides the weekly ten dollars I receive for yard work each weekend, which I usually end up spending by the end of that weekend anyway, I would have to say I view myself as wealthy. I'm happy to say that I have three pairs of grandparents, a couple aunts and uncles, a few cousins and a couple great-grandparents on my list of family members, and each one of those individuals cares for me as much as the other, and as much as I care for them. I know that no matter how messy the situation or how severe the problem, I have someone I can turn to in my family for good, quality advice. I have a pair of grandparents who live a mere two minutes away if something goes wrong and my parents are not there to take care of it. Another pair of grandparents lives almost eight hours away, yet they will drive those eight hours just so they can see me run a race for 16 minutes. My aunt and uncle live in Ohio, yet they still find a way to come all the way across the country every other Christmas just to spend time with me. My other uncle worked all night at the hospital, and on not a minute of sleep, drove all the way out to my house because he refused to miss my birthday party. On my last day of school in second grade, I walked out to where my mother would usually pick me up to find my aunt, who lived in Louisiana at the time, waiting to pick me up. She came from Louisiana for my last day of school all because she missed me. I have friends who would kill to have a family like mine.
            Situations such as the ones stated above show a family that deeply loves and cares for one another. They are a prime example of what being wealthy is all about: loving family members who will go out of their way to do anything and everything just to make sure you and everything in your life is okay.