You are stuck in a snow storm (or a sand storm), or you are lost in the bush. Describe your last moments. How will you react?
I had never been surrounded by so much white in my life. White sky, white ground, white trees, trapped in a white car in the middle of nowhere, out of fuel to run any further. My phone couldn’t get any signal, the thick snow was interfering with my GPS, and the snow was slowly covering the windows, blinding my vision. At the very least I was in my warm clothes. It felt like being in a coffin with your eyes wide open, and you can see yourself being buried. For the first time, I had no way out. I didn’t know where I was. I lost control of the wheel and spiraled out of control. When I woke up all I saw was white. The only things I had to keep me company was my own thoughts, and Simba. I bet he’s grateful for that cage now. He never liked it, I guess he’s claustrophobic. I wouldn’t know for sure, I never had time to had him checked out. I never had much time for him. The only day I could take him to the vet was today, and I got us stranded. I hadn’t lost all hope, because there were enough snacks in the cabin for both of us for the day. Might as well wait this storm out.
I let Simba out of the cage and cuddle him for warmth. I put on some music to pass the time, and in hopes to catch someone’s attention. Simba really liked Britney Spears. As he should, since I put her music on blast everytime I got home. One of the benefits of living in the middle of nowhere is there’s no noise complaint, but I guess I didn’t consider the scenario of getting stranded. He felt asleep before me, and I dozed off right after. When I woke up, he moved to the back seat, still asleep. I tried to open the door to see the outside. The storm was over, the snow built up to my ankle so there was no chance to get this car anywhere. I guess I hit something because there were scratches on the door. Oh well. I heard car engines from afar, so I walked towards it. I kept the music on for Simba, and for me to find my way back. It took me about 5 minutes to reach the road, and I got enough signal to call for help. Turned out I had driven off the road and into the woods, but it was too dark and snowy for me to tell.
My life is so boring not even getting stuck in the snow could be exciting.
You are the scholar gypsy. Explain to your friends why you have decided to run away from conventional education.
My fellow scholars,
I am sure my departure has left some of you puzzled. You may be asking yourself, “Why would he leave everything behind to become no one?”. Well, it’s true, I am not anyone anymore, but at the same time, I am everyone. I can no longer handle being trapped inside the box of academic achievement as it has restrained me from doing anything else. Ask yourself, “Why are you doing the things you are doing? What can these things do for you in the future? What are you waiting for? What are you hoping for?”. Do you have an answer? Because I do. Day and night you read those books, but they never take you anywhere. Moreover, they chain you to the ground, keeping you safe but you can never take flight. I have flown, and I have fell, but I fly again right afterwards. I did not mind the pain and I knew the risk. I didn’t really mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted, and then losing it to know what true freedom is.
You may take offence to being called a gypsy, but I do not. In fact, I accept that compliment. I found my people, my fellow gypsies, out in the open. We have nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desire anymore, except to make our lives a work of art. Who are you? Are you in touch with all of your wildest dreams? Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them? I have. You will probably call me crazy. I am crazy. But I am free.
Select any one painting explored today and describe it creatively in either prose or verse, bringing all its details into focus.
During our visit at the Art Gallery of NSW, I was immediately captivated by Eugene von Guérard’s paintings of nature, not just by the unbelievable details but by the message behind them. My personal favorite was Waterfall, Strath Creek (pictured above). What captured my eyes from afar was the fact that the subject of the painting, the waterfall, interestingly resembles a ray of lightning. After a longer look, I also noticed how clean the water looked, unpolluted and free-flowing. It was a scenery made by the spontaneity of mother nature, without human interference; such a rare sight is hard to find today. Guérard included himself as well as his travelling companions at the top and the bottom of the waterfall as the tiniest figures which would be easily ignored without closer inspection. By doing so, he emphasized the grandness of the scenery as well as the insignificance of human, which was a common theme during the Romantic era. From beneath the waterfall looking up, it seemed as if the stream flows down from the sky, oozing out endlessly and vigorously from the white glowing clouds flowing through. We are but a tiny speck of dust next to a grand wonder, quite intimidatingly so but also humbling, as there is no other option but to admire such a stunning jewel. It is a great painting that focuses on the freedom of nature, unrestricted and unique, all complete opposites of the industrialism at the time, when all had to be monotonous and precise with little room for creativity. Creativity and individuality were hardly of use, and humans were disappearing into machines. In my opinion, besides the aesthetics aspect, this is a Romantic expression with a subtle message of protest against society in the past.
CREATIVE You are Sissy Jupe. In a short paragraph tell Louisa what it has been like living in a circus for most of your life. Tell her what you have enjoyed and what your relationships have been like with other people in the circus.
*Disclaimer: this is a creative dialogue, and all the characters mentioned are from my imagination*
During Louisa’s recovery, Sissy opened up to her about her past in the circus.
“I’m happy and grateful for having a home, and to share it with you, Louisa, I truly do. Do I miss the circus? Of course I do. I would do anything to go back. It may seem strange to you, the world I grew up in, chaotic and disorganized, but that is the world that made me who I am today. You and I are brought up in two opposite worlds, and for that, the philosophy that shaped you will never be valid to me entirely, as would mine to you. I come from the land of imagination and spontaneity, but that does not mean I fail to look at life as it is. It is quite the opposite, for my circus friends are those that taught me about life. Mr. Bender, the most flexible man I had ever known, was a dear friend and a man with great wisdom. The Mirror Twins, Mandy and Sandy, oh such mesmerizing ladies! If only you were able to see them perform, how they perfectly synchronize with each other as if they were one. The crowd used to go crazy for them. They were from Coketown you know, two orphans taken under Mr. Sleary’s wings and blossoming into one of his best acts. Pat the Cat Whisperer, how could I forget him! All the children attending the shows love him so, how he controls his feline friends and perform unimaginable tricks. His most mind-boggling performance, The Ring of Fire, where he commands them to jump through moving fire hoops, still confuses me to this day. He would never tell me the secret to that act, but I did not mind, for I was close to his cats very much. They were all so friendly and talented. And lastly, Mr. Sleary, I will forever be grateful for his kindness, caring for me when my father was no longer with me. I know you may see us as a laughing stock, but we were performers, entertainers, and a family who cared for each other very much. I wish them the best, and I dream of meeting everyone again every day.”
CREATIVE “Resolution and Independence” is Wordsworth’s poem on how his depression lifted after seeing the “Resolution and Independence” of the leech gatherer.
Do you have a memory of a moment in your life where your mood changed suddenly for the worst but how something else came and brought a smile back to your face?
I am quite close to my family. Now that I have moved out, it takes much more effort to contact and stay close to them. However, not one day goes by that I do not think about them. They are the reason I am here. They are my motivation. We are by no means a rich family, but I was still lucky enough to have a childhood, get a proper education, loved and even spoiled every day of my life. I cannot ask for anyone else better. It is tough living on my own, in a different continent, a different community, having to provide for myself. There have been many times I have been broken down but I never gave up thanks to their words of encouragement. My parents support me every step of the way, my sisters give me inspiration, my aunt teaches me her wisdom, and my cousins love me an incredible amount. Thinking about them standing behind me every step of the way, pushing me forward puts a smile on my face. Not everyone is blessed enough to have such a supportive family, and I am one of the lucky few that gets to wear that as a badge of pride.
A stanza from Woodworth’s “Resolution and Independence” connected with me deeply:
“My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought,
As if life’s business were a summer mood;
As if all needful things would come unsought,
To genial faith, still rich in genial good;”
I feel that this perfectly describes me, as I am with little worry and always enriched in a spiritual sense, because I know I will never have to walk on this earth and go through the ups and downs of life alone, not when I still have my family with me.