It’s All Up To You
In poems, “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, “First Practice” by Gary Gildner, and short story, “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes, the texts all convey ideas of taking control of your own life. In this weeks Zen Meditation I found myself improving with my meditation, and am finding it easier to take control of my thoughts and solely think about counting and breathing. In “Directions for Resisting the SAT” Hague talks about the SAT test, saying it is not important to your life, and what you should do, is go out and take chances instead. In “First Practice” a coach talks to his players only about winning, conveying a message of how society as a whole looses when we are only focused on the final outcome. In “Thank you M’am” Langston Hughes demonstrates when taking control of your own life, there is always an option to take the high road, and demonstrates the importance of doing so. These three texts along with my Zen Meditation exemplify the ever-present decisions in one’s life, and the power of taking control of those decisions.
In the poem, “Directions for Resisting the SAT” Hague talks about how the test is based mostly on luck, and one cannot truthfully base their successes off of this. Throughout the poem Hague argues you cannot control how you do on the SAT, but you can control what you do elsewhere in your life. In the last lines of the poem Hague’s final words to his reader are, “…follow no directions. / Listen to no one. / Make your marks on everything” (Hague 14-16). Here he states what is really important is moving past the test, and taking control of other aspects of your life. He is instructing people to not let the test define you, and that people have so much more potential to live up to than the SAT. Having this poem be an open form poem, one with no specific rhyme scheme or pattern, is another way he encourages people to break free of the standardized tests. He wants people to expand their learning possibilities in other areas of their lives, taking control of what is really important, and not have restrictions holding them back. He is expressing that the conformity of the SAT is bad for society, shown through the lack of rhyme scheme in the poem; and one should choose to make their mark on something bigger and better than a five hour test given on a Saturday morning in October.
Gildner also argues to take chances in life, but does so through showing the negative consequences kids and society face when these choices are not available in his poem, “First Practice.” In the poem Clifford Hill is a symbol of today’s destructive society, one that is too focused on winning, and not improving yourself as a whole person. Hill says to his players, “…and if we are to win / that title I want to see how. / But I don’t want to see / any marks when you’re dressed, / he said. He said, Now” (Gilder 23-27). Here he demonstrates the pressure society puts on winning, and how a coach can take away the ability for a player to take control of his own life. When he does this, society as whole losses and is unable to progress forward because of the ideals set forth of winning. Not being able to make decisions for yourself negatively impacts you because you are unable to take control of your destiny; and when this happens to many people it begins to impact all of society and leads to a stagnant society.
In “Thank You M’am” a boy attempts to steal a woman’s purse, and she chooses to take the high road rather than get him in trouble with the police. The woman could have easily sent this boy to jail, but instead she choose to learn about him, bring him back to her house and cook for him, and eventually let him go free without consequences. After the incident occurred where the boy attempted to rob Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones she said, “You ought to be my son. I would teach you right from wrong. Least I can do right now is to wash your face. Are you hungry?” (Hughes 507). This quote exemplifies Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones taking the high road, and trying to teach the young boy, Robert, a lesson, rather than just getting him in trouble and having him continually try to commit crimes. In life, taking control of the decisions in your life, and choosing to do the right thing will prove to be a liberating experience. Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones was able to see the positive aspects in a dark situation, and help Robert’s life in the long run. There is always a path you can take to better yourself, and Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones was able to see this, and seize the opportunity to better not only her own life, but Robert’s life as well.
Over the weeks I have been going to Zen Meditation I have definitely been improving. The first couple of weeks were extremely difficult for me to force my mind to not think about anything. However, with my latest sessions I am finding it easier to practice the art of Zen Meditation and am able to focus on not thinking about anything, and just letting my mind be at rest. I am now able to take control of my mind and life during the hour and a half session, something I was not able to do in the beginning weeks. Being able to control my thoughts is a powerful and liberating experience, and I know it improves my mental health at other points during my hectic week. My Zen Meditation has showed me the challenge of taking control of decisions and thoughts in life, and has taught me to not take it for granted.
Being able to control your decisions and actions is something very powerful, and more often than not, society takes it for granted. When you are able to take control of decisions in your life and break free of societal constraints you can make an incredible impact in society, as talked about by Richard Hague in “Resisting the SAT”. However, when these decisions are taken from you, and society only focuses on winning a competition this does not help you grow as a person and restricts societies ability to move forward, demonstrated in “First Practice”. In “Thank you M’am” Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones demonstrates the power of honing in on your decisions in life, and how choosing to do the right thing for all involved is what is really important and helps move society forward. Having decisions accessible to me, and being able to control my own thoughts is something Zen Meditation has taught me not to take for granted; and along with all the texts for this week exemplify the power of taking control of your own life and making the right decision.