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Apparently, We Are All Clay Jars 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines hope as “cherishing a desire with anticipation.” Which, as we all draw nearer to graduation I would say is how I feel about May 5; hopeful. However, the archaic definition of hope is trust. And trust, I think, is harder to obtain than hope sometimes. Hope is internal. Hope is something that sits under your breastbone and burns with little sparks to keep you moving. Trust is an elusive concept. Most of us don’t even trust our own bodies or minds, riddled as we are with diseases both mental and physical. This idea made me think of the story of Pandora and her box.  

Pandora in Greek Mythology was a woman fashioned from clay by Zeus who was married to Prometheus’s (the guy with the fire and the eagle liver thing) brother. As a wedding present, Zeus (lightning thunder dude who liked to change into animals to have affairs with mortal women) gave her a clay jar or box and told her not to open it. As all Greek myths go she opened the jar and let out all the evil, disease, and nastiness that the world now contains, but she shut the box before Elpis, the Greek minor god of hope could escape.  

There are a lot of different theories and interpretations of and about this story, but one that gives me hope is the idea that the clay jar was representative of the human body. Hear me out. So Pandora was the first human made out of clay by Zeus, given the clay jar with all the evil of humanity inside of it. She opened it and now all that was free in the world but the only thing inside the clay jar was hope. The only thing left inside this physical metaphor for the human body was the small, flickering idea of courage and belief. Which means that while people can be evil, can be sick, can commit atrocities beyond imagination, the only thing that is inherent in all of us is not good or evil, but hope.  

Hope therefore is the truest human expression, the truest emotion that all humans share. The universal truth of humanity is hope, and if we go off of the original definition is trust. I hope for my future that I can embody this more, that I trust more, that I hope more. There are goals, aspirations, working hard, and planning, but hope is what keeps those fires lit.  

 

There is another interpretation of Pandora’s Box, and it is that Elpis is really the minor god of foreboding, that ominous and ever-present fear that is the acid that eats away at hope. And while that sounds like a terrible thing to keep trapped inside of a clay jar, this too brings the reader of Pandora’s Box hope. For fear is locked in a vault somewhere it can not touch the sunshine rays of hope we hold in all of us.  

Living in the Moment

Do you ever pay attention to detail? Do you ever look up and notice the pipes that line the ceiling? Do you ever look down and notice the stitches on your shoes? When your eyes are tired, when your body aches and your mind is filled with static, do you ever just pause and feel what it’s like to be alive?

The first time I ever meditated, I fell asleep. I was ten years old and at a performing arts sleepaway camp. One of my counselors didn’t like me. I was an annoying, repetitive child. Brilliant but brazen.  

She guided the campers in meditation every morning.  

“Look at the clouds,” she’d coo. “What do you see?”  

Blobs, I’d think.  

“What do you wish you’d see,” she’d ask.  

Everything.  

I took a deep breath. I let my chest expand and let the light peer through my half-closed eyelids. With arms crossed, I grabbed hold of my waist and squeezed rolls of skin until I felt something: the dull pinch of my own grip, materialized, hanging on. I thought about everything— what it was like to be breathing, what it would have been like to not– and soon enough my counselor’s droning voice faded, and I felt completely centered.  

I woke up to the sound of my own snoring. The other campers quietly giggled as morning meditation had been over for ten minutes.  

Since then, I’ve learned to meditate with my eyes open.  

Whenever I get anxious, I look at what’s in front of me, closely. Sometimes it’s a person, sometimes it’s just a bare white wall. I study it. I breathe and feel what it’s like to be in one moment in time, in one place on this earth. I stop thinking and just feel– feel what it’s like to be alive, to have ended up wherever I am.

Where I am doesn’t always matter; what counts is that I’m alive to see it, to be here, to end up in this moment, in this place. Even though clouds are blobs, and walls are white, I’m here. Being alive gives me hope.

Hope Aspirations

By: Corinne Jenkins

When I think about hope, one, particular person pops in my mind. My mom gives me the most hope out of anyone who surrounds meTo think I’m related to a woman who is so strong, intelligent, inspiring, motivational, and who has the kindest soul of anyone I know, is amazing. 

 

Sometimes I look at my mom and the person she is, and I hope to be like her one day. Someone who is capable and willing to get up every day and go to work, while also handling the many other aspects in life. She makes keeping the house tidy, taking care of our dogs, and only getting a few hours of sleep look easy. I can barely get up for my 11 a.m. most days, and my mom gets up every weekday at 4:30 in the morning. I’m 95% sure she has super powers, which I will hopefully inherit one day. 

 

My point is that I am in a stage in my life where the responsibilities are lacking. Sure, I have two jobs and I’m a full-time student, but my mom handles actual responsibility on a day-to-day basis, with ease. My hope lies in the desire that one day I can achieve my goals and handle my aspirations as courageously as my mom has 

 

As time continues to speed on around me, and my graduation date travels closer and closer, I feel at ease. I’m not as scared because if my mom could do it, if she could become a responsible adult in the real-world, with a real-life job, then so can I. My mom motivates me enough into believing that I can be like her one day, and I know I always have her to support me, which is the greatest gift of all.  

 

Having this role model in my life has given me a sense of ambition. I want to make my mom proud one day, and her giving me the strength to do so is something I could never repay. My mom gives me hope through her own, driven personality, and dream to become as successful as her. She is my hero, she is my inspiration, and she is certainly my hope. 

A Plastic-Wrapped Momento

I somehow began friendships with most of my closest friends in the confusing world of high school. I may usually look back at those four years very negatively, but they were still a time when life seemed simpler and happiness came easier. , it’s no surprise that some of my fondest memories with my friends are

Something that has stuck with me for several years is a short and random memory with one of my most loving friends. We met in sophomore year, and I’m not actually sure when this took place, so it could’ve been three to five years ago. My friend and I were goofing around in the cafeteria, when she jokingly gave me a plastic-wrapped fork as a very special gift. I took it, returning the joke, and acted like I was deeply touched and would keep it forever. That, however, was not what either of us intended. It’s not like she would never give me anything again; she celebrates my birthday with me every year, which should hold some more significance than giving me an extra fork in a prison school cafeteria.

After this over-dramatic brief interaction, I decided that it would be funny to see how long I kept it. So, I kept the joke going and treated the plastic-wrapped fork as if it was actually very special to me. I ended up keeping the fork for much longer than I had intended, and at some point, it became important to me. (But maybe that’s just the hoarder in me talking.)

The fork reminds me of not having to think about the serious things going on in our lives and just focusing on being friends and happy nonetheless. This reminder helps especially now that I find it difficult to fully trust and unconditionally love people I’ve met after high school.

I don’t take the fork everywhere with me, but it always stays in whichever room I usually live in. First it was at home, then in my dorm taped on the wall, in my first apartment on my desk hutch, and now in my apartment on a shelf.

To this day, it’s still in its plastic-wrapping and still making me smile when I look at it. I think of how silly it is that I’ve kept it for so long, and how this ordinary object reminds me that even if this friend isn’t at the same school anymore, I know that she and my other high school friends are always looking out for me.

Lucky Socks

Everyone has their vices. For me, it’s coffee. It’s not so much of a habit as it is a full-blown addiction. Every morning, I pop a k-cup into my Keurig and let that sweet machine do its magic; the coffee isn’t in the mug long enough to cool before I’ve gulped that otherworldly elixir the heck down. If I don’t drink any before my day starts, I make sure to invest in a hefty cup, hot or iced, anywhere I can get it. (I could stop anytime I want, I swear.)

Last year when I stumbled upon a pair of ankle-high socks with cappuccinos patterned onto the bean-colored background, I knew those suckers were destined to be mine. From the moment they left the sock factory, those babies were headed straight for my size 6.5 feet.

On the way home from the gift shop, I resolved that my coffee socks weren’t going to be just another pair of socks, but my lucky socks. I had never owned anything “lucky” before, aside from pennies I had picked up on rainy days or that cereal with the Styrofoam “marshmallows” inside. But those bad boys, my adrenaline-infused foot warmers, were my new lucky thing.

I wore those puppies during every presentation, every performance, every busy day, and even every tough conversation. The brown color made them palatable enough for a casual outfit while the coffee cup pattern made them quirky enough to be unique– the pair as a whole gave me just enough of a confidence boost to power through rough days. As long as I was wearing those socks, there was nothing I couldn’t conquer. Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but who even cares? When I was wearing my cappuccino socks, I was killing it and no one could tell me otherwise.

The socks had a good run until I misplaced them on the morning of a big interview. I rummaged through drawers, shook out my hamper, and turned over every leaf and stone but to no avail. There was no trace of them– but I had to run. I settled on some pink pineapple socks and sped away in my Oldsmobile, unsure of what the day might bring.

When walking into my interview, I felt naked. No lucky socks? And I expect to be seen as employable? I had to make a decision. Either swerve back around and and turn my apartment upside down until I find those socks, or just put my best lucky-sockless foot forward and face the day by myself.

The latter would save me gas, so I pressed on.

And you know what? I walked in, and crushed it. After nailing the interview (and landing the job!) I realized that I didn’t need the socks to make my life better. I just needed the confidence that they incited in me—which I knew deep down. But sometimes, we all lack the will to trust ourselves, and instead put our trust in lucky charms like socks or even coffee.

My cappuccino socks now lie at rest (wherever the heck I misplaced them) because I don’t need them anymore. I am the master of my own destiny now. I create my own luck.

I wonder what else I could give up. Coffee? Who am I kidding.

Ring of Armor

The term “lucky charm” brings to mind a delicious cereal with mini marshmallows and an all-too-happy leprechaun on the front of the box. A lucky charm for most, though, is something they might keep with them to grant an extra vote of confidence and help navigate through life’s tricky obstacles. My blessed token that I deem as my lucky charm is my great grandmother’s ring. My ring has been passed down to my grandmother, my mother, and then me. It has a rounded blue jewel in the middle and tiny white diamonds surrounding it. 

 

Luck has always been something that I believe in. Not in the form of cereal, but in the ways of there being some sort of fate involved in our daily lives. My mom finally presented me with the ring when I turned 21. For years and years, she would refuse to let me have this precious ring because of the tradition to officially receive it on my 21st birthday. I drooled over it for years and struggled to give it back, when my mom would let me borrow it on special occasions. (If you’re picturing me as the creepy dude in The Lord of the Rings, you’re about right). After treasuring this ring on my mom’s hand for so long, it was finally mine. 

 

This beloved ring is more to me than just a fancy accessory, though. It is a part of me and my family. When I put it on, I feel as though my great-grandmother and grandmother are still with me, watching over my life, making sure that I am okay. This ring is not only an heirloom, but one of my most valued possessions. Wearing it calms my mind into believing the world isn’t so terrifying and gives me enough confidence to believe I can handle more than I know. It gives me a way to trust in something greater, as if it has a magical power to bring me good luck.  

 

Believing in luck, and in my lucky charm, lets me feel better about this sometimes-scary world. This mental shield gives me courage on a daily basis. My ring is that one possession that makes my heart stop if I don’t know where it is. It provides my own, possibly imaginary, and invisible protection against any challenges in my life. 

 

 

Jake

By: Corinne Jenkins

I don’t deserve you, 

I don’t deserve the way you look at me, 

Or the way you put me first. 

I don’t deserve how you handle me at my best, 

And especially at my worst. 

I don’t deserve the nights you stay awake for me, 

When you know you’ll have to get up at dawn, 

As you patiently listen to me go on and on. 

I don’t deserve the countless visits, 

Or the thoughtful gifts, 

And the way your family treats me like their own, 

You make me feel as if I’ll never be alone. 

But you always convince me 

That I do deserve all this 

Because you are my home. 

You are the reason I get up in the morning, 

The reason my heart sings, 

Lifting me up in thankful prayer, 

You hold my heart to the world and make me care. 

You’ve treated me so well 

That I assume I don’t deserve you at all 

Even under this beautiful love spell. 

 

But that’s just it, 

Because I do deserve your love,  

And kindness, 

Every bit. 

And you deserve mine, 

I’ve gone through my life 

Thinking just the opposite. 

And I do hope this will last for a long time, 

As I’ve explained through semi-rhyme. 

You’ve shown me what I am worthy of, 

By giving me what I deserve, 

Through love.