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Digimon Loyalist
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's an essay I recently wrote for college. I hope you guys like it. :)
Tell me what you think about it.
It's called "Walking the Great Wall of Life"

Growing up I always viewed adults as eternal beings like statues unchanged by the passage of time. As I grew out of my childhood I could plainly see the subtle differences that age and sickness can bring to adults. Viewing my family today I can see how time has changed my parents. My mother becoming slimmer from all the weight she’s lost. My father’s once full head of hair now reduced to a balding,receding hairline. The few remaining hairs on his head are no longer brown but grey. My grandmother, who once stood tall and proud with her head held high, now stood hunched over, clinging to her son. I can remember vividly the day I first realized how time and age changed my parents and grandmother.
Standing on the steps of the Great Wall of China, I remembered gazing towards the mountains in the horizon. The bright sun reflecting the brilliant autumn foliage. Despite the sun and cloudless blue sky I could see my breath from the cold crisp air. My attention was averted from the beautiful scenery by the sound of my father’s voice. Turning around I could see the vast corridors of steps crisscross down the mountain. My father and mother were waving at my sister and I from the summit of the mountain, beckoning us to slow down. Their faces were featureless, the distance only allowing us to view their outline. “He doesn’t want us to slow down already, does he?” said my sister impatiently as she leaned against the wall, allowing the wind to blow her hair and her swarthy skin to glisten in the sun. Eyeing a nearby watchtower we eagerly explored it, ignoring our parents request. The view from the watchtower was spectacular. It was a sea of mostly red, orange, and yellow punctuated by the occasional tree with brown withering leaves. The Great Wall was like a tangled snake crawling from the tops of the mountains across the horizon.
My parents eventually gave in and climbed the endless set of stairs. When they finally reached the watchtower their reactions were the polar opposite. Mom was excited and energetic, a youthful smile showed across her face. Having only recently lost weight, she wasn’t used to her newfound energy. Dad, on the other hand,was tired and exhausted. Despite the cool autumn weather and strong winds Dad was sweating profusely. Exhausted he sat down on the steps, breathing heavily. Taking a handkerchief from his pocket he began patting his sweaty forehead. “ I told you to slow down” he said, finally catching his breath. Even though he was tired he still wore a smile on his face, never allowing fatigue to dampen his spirits. But even with his enthusiasm Dad was a shadow of his former self, both in my perception of him and physically.
Throughout my childhood I had viewed my father through the lens of a child. Gone are the days when I gazed at my father’s immense presence with a mixture of both awe and fear. My Dad had grown older and couldn’t keep up with the rest of his family, including my Mother, sister, and my self's energetic spirit and limitless curiosity. Dad had become an old man and knew it. Despite his aging and weakening strength he refused to accept his age. He would fight before ending up in the same fate as his own mother. Dad was never content with surviving, he wanted to live life to the fullest. I offered to help him get up but he refused, choosing to get up on his own with his own strength. That was my Dad, he never accepted help if he could accomplish something himself. Dad would always tell my sister and I that he wouldn’t want to live dependent on another for support financially, physically, or emotionally.
My Dad’s mother, my grandmother, was once an active and vibrant women. I have fond memories of her, as I grew up, taking my sister and I to the mall or an amusement park. She was an independent women, driving her own car, using her own money, living independently and not becoming a burden to anyone. In recent times, however, she too has become a shadow of her former self. But unlike my grandmother, Dad would never give up on life. Old age would inevitably grow and consume his body, but he would never allow it to consume his mind and will to live.
As the years passed I watched old age and sickness finally consume my grandmother's entire being. She was now unable to drive, walk on her own, or live independently. She was confined mostly to a wheelchair whenever she wasn’t in bed. She had become cynical, hating what she had become but unwilling to confront her illness and live to her full potential. We had invited her to come with us to China, but she refused, saying she was old and wouldn’t want to waste her energy on an “old wall”. My grandmother seemed content with her situation, never wanting to overcome illness but just waiting to die.
As the day grew older we continued exploring the Great Wall, the wind becoming stronger, but we were undeterred. The fierce wind blew the weaker, withering brown leaves off the branches of the trees. The leaves that still retained their color were not blown away by the wind. My Grandmother was like the brown withering leaves that had given up on life, allowing the wind to cast them away. My father’s drive to live was comparable to the bright autumn foliage. Like the autumn leaves showing their age, Dad was slowly growing older, but his love of life and will to live showed brilliant.
 

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Digimon Loyalist
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So... what do you guys think of the essay I wrote? Is it any good?
By the way the essay is based on my own life experience while living oversees in South Korea. To this day I remember vividly the day we first walked the great wall of china while on vacation. :) That was the first day I realized my Dad was slowly becoming an old man...
 

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That's nice. I like some of the comparisons you made, like "The Great Wall was like a tangled snake crawling from the tops of the mountains across the horizon." I'm also fond of the last paragraph, where you compare the state of the leaves to your father's and grandmother's will or lack of will to live. That's really neat, I like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for reading my essay. I was waiting forever for someone to respond. Thanks for the complement. :)
 

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Digimon Loyalist
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hey I just got my essay graded today and I received an A!!! Only two people in the entire class earned an A and I was one of them. :D I just wanted to proclaim this to complete strangers. :lol
 

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my god richard

that's wonderful ! It's very indepth and powerful and thought provoking and eloquent and amazing and just overall fantastic :)

I'll tell you more via chat
 

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sorry it took me so long to comment...but this is amazing!...beautifully written...i enjoyed every bit of it...and i admire your father...you really deserved that A
 

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It was great. I hope your good writing rubs off on me.

I really like how all the 'old' people are so different. Your grandmother accepts death and waits for it, your dad wants to stay young but doesn't actively try and prolong his life, and your mum treats older age like a new beginning- it's the next phase in her life, so she wants to be fit and ready when it starts.

I want to grow old like your mum. My neighbours (your mum) regularly go abroad to places like Egypt and America. The only reason they stopped going is because a sister (your grandmother) is living with them now, so they have to care for her almost full-time. They're so much livelier than her, and it's probably down to her attitude.

I realised my parents are getting old when my mum got a letter informing her about pensions, and my dad turning 50 was another wake-up call. It's not nice thinking that one day they won't be here anymore.
 

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Very well written and poignant. It's amazing how our perception of the most important people in our lives can change so dramatically with the passing of time. Not only the perception, but the reality as well. I think you really deserved that A.
 

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I'll admit. i am not good at judging essays, but it seems well written. I liked your use of words, like an artistic poet. Good job
 

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This was great! I think the subject matter is something pretty much everyone can relate to-- waking up to the fact that people will age and eventually die, and seeing that happen in those that you love and respect. It's frightening.
And the scenery of the Great Wall was a really good backdrop to this essay, and provided a good symbol for the themes you wrote about.
 

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Hey Richard.
That was a great essay. Not surprised you got an A. =)

You're lucky to have great parents that want to do activity's while they are getting older. Mine are more like your grandmother. They are content with sitting; waiting for death. I think everyone would want to be like your father. Some just can't can't do it.

I don't think it's giving up on life or showing weakness at all. I couldn't imagine being older and just sitting there doing nothing, but waiting for death. That has to take some strength, to be able to say I'm content with my life, and all I have accomplished. Now I sit, and wait for the next chapter, death. =o
 

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Well written story that a lot of people can relate to, one of them being me. As we grow up perception changes as do ourselves, reading this story totally brought me back to when I realized the mortality of my parents. On that day I remember looking at them and some "thing" just clicked within me and I realized that they were getting older and would eventually pass away, a sobering thought that's not the happiest but is one that's steeped in reality.

In our western society, especially in America, death and old age is something to be feared. Simply look at a retirement home, look at it and think about it for a second. It's a place where we put our adults when they're old (in some cases I can only imagine consent isn't always garnered by the individual). Now how does that statement make you feel? Not very happy I'd imagine. I don't know exactly where I'm going with this but it just seems like old age as we're taught to see it is wrong in my opinion. Old age and death help give us perspective and make life that much more sweeter.

And one more time for emphasis your story was well written and deserved that A without a doubt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well written story that a lot of people can relate to, one of them being me. As we grow up perception changes as do ourselves, reading this story totally brought me back to when I realized the mortality of my parents. On that day I remember looking at them and some "thing" just clicked within me and I realized that they were getting older and would eventually pass away, a sobering thought that's not the happiest but is one that's steeped in reality.

In our western society, especially in America, death and old age is something to be feared. Simply look at a retirement home, look at it and think about it for a second. It's a place where we put our adults when they're old (in some cases I can only imagine consent isn't always garnered by the individual). Now how does that statement make you feel? Not very happy I'd imagine. I don't know exactly where I'm going with this but it just seems like old age as we're taught to see it is wrong in my opinion. Old age and death help give us perspective and make life that much more sweeter.

And one more time for emphasis your story was well written and deserved that A without a doubt.
I agree with you about how our society views aging as negative. Many people feel that an individual is only worth living if he/she is independent and can contribute to society. If your too old to work you get thrown into a "home" and quickly forgotten...
Although I hope you didn't get the impression that I view my grandmother as pathetic and worthless. I love my Grandmother but she is aging and makes no effort to help herself and live her life to the fullest.
 

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I particularly like the imagery you use; I think someone already mentioned this beautiful paragraph:

The view from the watchtower was spectacular. It was a sea of mostly red, orange, and yellow punctuated by the occasional tree with brown withering leaves. The Great Wall was like a tangled snake crawling from the tops of the mountains across the horizon.

All in all a very good essay about (ageing obviously) the innocence and idealism of childhood vs. the experience and reality of adulthood. A theme that everyone can relate to. Congrats on the A :clap
 

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Jeez, I got a little teary reading that. well done.
 
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