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November 17, 2013

Why Me?

Life is full of questions. And one of the questions we ask ourselves all too often is why me? When tragedy strikes, perhaps in the form of a layoff from a job, a terrifying diagnosed illness, or even something as simple as losing a game, we ask the question: why me? Sometimes it seems as though life is unfair. As if when weíre down in the blackness of bad luck, misfortune keeps coming back for us. Itís always me, we think. Why did this bad thing happen to me?

But why donít ask the more important questions? Why donít we ask the questions that reveal the true state of our fortunate lives?

Why donít we ask: Why do I have access to clean drinking water when 780 million people in the world do not? Or why was I not one of the 5 million children who die each year from mal-nutrition? Why was I not born to a family in Chad, where 80% of the population lives below the poverty line?

We do not ask these questions, but instead take our fulfilled basic needs for granted, using and throwing away more resources than most people in poorer countries have available in a month or more.

But we are more blessed than that. Why, for example, am I not one of the 45,000 people who die in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo every month from war, illness, and malnutrition? Or if you are lucky enough to have a family that loves and supports you, do you not wonder about that fortunate placement? If you were blessed enough to have the opportunity to go to college and get an education, do you not wonder about why you were granted that chance for a better future?

In our lives, there are a lot of questions. But instead of asking the bad questions, ponder the significant ones. Wonder about the wondrous ones, and when you do, it is likely the light will flood in, and instead of blackness, you will see gold.

Works Cited

"2013 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics by World Hunger Education Service." 2013 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics by World Hunger Education Service. World Hunger.org, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Said, Sammy. "10 War-Torn and Poorest Countries in the World." 10 War-Torn and Poorest Countries in the World. The Richest, 29 July 2013. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"Water.org." Waterorg. Water.org, 2013. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

September 28, 2013

A Magical Place

I never realized it was the last day of school. Perhaps it was because I still had the threat of finals darkening the horizon, or perhaps because it had snowed a few inches that week, casting my mind back to a cold winter. Or perhaps it was because I forgot to have ice cream for breakfast, a tradition my family has continued religiously ever since my mom promised two hopeful children that no, they could not have ice cream for breakfast today, but they could on the last day of school. (She never dreamed we would remember.)

But no matter the reason, it simply eluded my thoughts. Even when I came to realize after finals that I was truly done, my mind was elsewhere. I was thinking about the diploma (although temporarily fake) I would hold on graduation day, the full-time job waiting to replenish my gloomy bank account, and wedding plans to satisfy my starry-eyed big girl dreams.

And I didnít miss it. Summer came and went as always Ė surprising us with sudden heat, and disappearing in one chilly fall morning. My brother left for Ames, waving from the window as the car drove away, boxes and bags piled high in the back. Still, I didnít miss it. I tried coordinating a get together with a friend only to realize she had a busy life that included homework. Of course, I didnít miss it. I listened to the opening football game of the season, and imagined the bright lights, yelling students, and a stadium of rolling red and gold. I didnít miss it.

Then I went back. I drove through campus Friday night and reminisced. I watched students bike around the lovely warm night, step into Howe Hall for the Engineering E-ball, and take a homework break in Townís lobby. I drove by the places I lived and loved for three short years Ė places that spark a movie reel in my mind, playing colorful and vivid memories.

It is not that I wish I was back. My life is in a different place, and I couldnít be happier with where I am. I am blessed with a full-time job, an amazing fiancťe I get to marry in seven months, a mom who can put up with me enough to let me come back and live with her after the normal eighteen years, and exciting plans for the future. As I have pondered many times, change is inevitable, and we all must move on and look forward.

However Ė now, when I have left it behind me, I have realized Iowa State for what it is Ė a magical place. No other time in my life will I live so close to most of my friends and 30,000 (now more) peers. No other time will I have the opportunities available to students for fun and learning. No other time will I have everything I need in a small, friendly, and breathtakingly beautiful campus. No other time will I be a part of an atmosphere like college Ė the atmosphere at Iowa State.

So as I come to realize how magical the preciously short time available to those of us blessed enough to attend college is Ė I must remind those who are still on that path in life: Cherish it. Donít take a single moment for granted. Enjoy the late nights problem solving doing homework Ė because soon life will give you harder challenges. Remember to stop by a friendís apartment or dorm, even if you feel you donít have time - because they will never again be that close. Relax when your bank account deflates Ė because soon enough you will have a paycheck and all the bills and responsibilities that go with it. And when you do reach the very last day realize it, celebrate it, and step forward. Not looking backwards, but always holding that magical place close to your heart.

January 25, 2013

Uncertainty

Google describes uncertainty as ďthe state of being uncertain: times of uncertainty and danger.Ē Humans, by nature, fear uncertainty. Children cower from the dark, fearful of entering a room where an array of terrifying fates could await the unsuspecting guest. Adults fear the times of uncertainty when a paycheck is not a guarantee or an unknown future awaits an ill friend or relative. It comes as no surprise that the second biggest fear among humans is death, and the unknown slips in at number nine. The unknown after all, takes away our control. Not knowing what lays ahead strips us of the opportunity to control the situation by carefully choosing our actions. Instead, we are thrown into the ring, without a plan and merely a shred of control to change the outcome of our predicament.

When I was younger, I was afraid of the dark. And I must admit, even today, walking past a dark room through a dimly lit hallway can still trigger goose bumps and quicken my step. But when I was younger, it was a whole different level of frightened. At my childhood home, my room was at the top of the stairs, around the corner, and down the hallway. I remember bounding up the stairs, skidding around the corner, and dashing down the dark hallway at night to reach my room as quickly as possible. As soon as I reached my room, a flailing arm would lunge for the light switch and I would start breathing again as I realized no dark monster or creature lay waiting.

Since being a child and racing up stairs to avoid the looming darkness around me, I have come to fear a new kind of uncertainty. Itís the uncertainty all adults must face. The uncertainty of the path of our lives. Itís an ever hovering presence in our existence, but there are times in our lives when the uncertainty swells and overwhelms the small parts we seem to be in control of.

When those times of uncertainty come roaring into our lives, knocking down the front door and shattering everything in their path, it can seem like there is no place to go. Looking into the bleak, dark abyss of the unknown is daunting. Not knowing what lies ahead or what could come of the new obstacle in life can drown out our own hopefulness for the future.

In these times of uncertainty, when fear and anxiety threaten to overcome our whole being and stress us to the point of falling apart, we all find places to turn to. Whether it is the arms of a family member or a close friend, a helpless pillow about to become a punching bag, or following the words of Abraham Lincoln and simply being driven to our knees with nowhere else to go, we find the place to ease the pain of uncertainty.

We find these places to tell ourselves that although the road before us is shrouded with a dense fog, a cliff will not await us. We find these places to overcome our fears of the shadowy bedroom where a monster could await. We find these places to continue living one day at time, no matter how little we know about the next day. So we boldly plunge into the darkness, with our head held high, holding out our arms to guide us, and waiting for the light to be turned on.