So I was sitting in French class, bored out of my mind. If Madame Udell reads this, I do love French! It was just at that particular moment I was finished all of my work.
So I started writing. That morning I had been listening to Shane Koyczan’s To This Day, so I decided to try my hand at poetry.
I kept writing after the bell, though most of lunch, and then during math once I was finished the day’s questions.
It kept spinning and spinning in my head, and the next day, I realized I had found my In-Depth: Slam Poetry.
Here is a recording of me reading my first ever poem: WARNING! Intensely melodramatic. Bwa ha ha. I don’t know what I was thinking.
File coming soon (Tomorrow) when technical difficulties are resolved.
^Please drop a comment, tell me whacha thought. Feedback is really going to help me out!
So. Why/how/when/where am I doing this? Well, I was really inspired by Shane Koyczan (go watch his video linked up there if you haven’t already. He’s amazing) and I always thought Slam Poetry was kind of cool. It was this sort of off-beat talent with words that some people seemed to possess, and it’s really impressive when you hear a good one. Slam is also really good at expressing thoughts/emotions/experiences that you couldn’t otherwise; much of modern slam is about some personal or global issue.
Emma (in afternoon) is also doing Slam Poetry, and we are going to do a lot of it together. In fact we will actually be performing at the Youth Slam Poetry House, every month, which is far more terrifying than I thought it would be when I agreed to do it, but at the same time I am really excited to get quality feedback and critique from 100 or so people.
Emma’s Blog <– Handy Link
Hard to put this into words.
First, a school day of intense stress. Block 1, 2, 3, 4… they all felt the same. Me tuning out the teacher because inwardly I was shrieking at the top of my lungs OHHHHHHHHH GOOOODNEEEESSSS IT’S TONIGHT I WONDER IF I COULD JUST DITCH MY LEARNING CENTER…
You get the point.
Then, in the prep time before dinner, it felt like the calm before the storm. I was surprisingly tranquil in this period. I felt as if I was floating –no matter what happens after this, you are done- and I was already set up, so I got to use the time to help out the people around me and preview their learning centers.
This was an incredibly idiotic idea.
I was so ashamed of my learning center after seeing everyone else’s, especially the grade 10’s. I hated that I wasn’t creative or surprising or fun in my learning center. Instead of a nice prep time, that revelation turned my thoughts back inward where flames of disappointment were roaring skyward. But I did my best to ignore it,and just kept working. A great distraction soon arose in the form of – dinner!
Dinner was delicious, and I tip my incredibly awesome metaphorical hat to the food crew. You guys did a great job. Pasta was a great choice, there were options for vegetarians, it was well organized… well done.
After dinner, I had a few more minutes to despair that no one would visit, and then the night began. Speeches were up first.
And they were incredibly. Grade 10’s, y’all were amazing. I saw a lot of wide eyes in the audience. I think it was a good choice overall to do the speeches at the beginning, as later that evening everyone just seemed more engaged.
After the fabulous speeches, we moved to the learning center portion of the evening. At first, no one visited me. I was between three excellent grade 10 learning centers, and everyone was trying to complete the game.
However, about 15 minutes in, this nice old lady came by. She saw the title of my poster board, which said ‘Live with Compassion’, and she asked “So what does it mean to live with compassion?”
I should have expected that question honestly, as it was the title of my center, but I was completely and utterly thrown by that. A bunch of thoughts whizzed through my head, and for a second I was afraid I was going to answer ‘I don’t know.’ But instead, I told her that living with compassion is something that is different for everyone, and for me it is about valuing happiness for myself and others. After that, we had this amazing conversation that I am still shocked I had. We talked about western societal patterns, and personal happiness, and how people in their community can actually build a peaceful culture. As we spoke, a little crowd formed around my table, and for much of the night I had a good 8 or 9 people listening and contributing to this great back-and-forth about the Dalai Lama’s beliefs. A few TALONS alumni came by to ask me rapid fire questions and tried to make me uncomfortable (thanks you guys!), and although they partially succeeded, I was just feeling good and I just kept talking.
Overall it was just a great night. Yeah. That about sums it up.
No commentary on this one, folks.
Kindness, Clarity and Insight – The fourteenth Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso
Google Books Link
This was an interesting read, as it was not about the Dalai Lama at all, instead painting a picture of what it takes to live happily and build a culture of peace. I recommend this book, because of it’s short length (230 pages) and the insight that it offers into the Dalai Lama’s perspective. If you are impersonating him, it’s invaluable. 8/10.
The Path to Freedom – His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
Google Books Link
Great book, as it is a collection of two of his works. Part one focuses on his childhood, and later exile, and part two focuses on his hopes for the future. Part one was my main area of focus, but part two was very inspirational. Quite a bit longer than his previous book, at 500 pages, but definitely worth the read. 8/10.
The 14th Dalai Lama, A Manga Biography – Tetsu Saiwai
Google Books Link
This book was fabulous. It was the first thing I read, and it took me about ten minutes to read. It condensed all the important dates, facts, and people into this tiny book that was very entertaining. Perfect introduction book. 150 pages, all illustrated. 9/10.
Vancouver Dialogues, Dalai Lama Center for Peace and Education
The Talks can be found here
Fun, short read, and very inspiring, but not useful for this project. This book is the Dalai Lama speaking to topics such as world peace, seeking compassion, etc. This book talks little about the Dalai Lama himself, and what he has done, and far more about where we can go for the future. 6/10.
The Story of Tibet, Conversations with the Dalai Lama – Thomas Laird
Google Books Link
This book caps out and 450 pages. It is a series of interview from the Dalai Lama to Thomas Laird about the culture, spirituality, and traditions of Tibet. This is not the book that will help you with this project. After reading it, I had a more thorough understanding of Tibet. Which is great. That is not what I was looking for. 4/10.
The Official Dalai Lama Website
I used this website a lot. The biography is not very extensive, but it has loads of great pictures. Of his exile, meeting world leaders, giving talks to schools all over the world… the pictures on this website are incredibly numerous. 9/10.
Hi. It’s been a while.
I often wonder: what is the motivation for procrastinating? I think to myself, maybe, if I put things off, then they won’t be my best, so if something isn’t good I can always say “I can do better.” If this is true, then a reason you may find it hard to be organized is simply that you are not comfortable enough/happy enough with who you are. Really, everything in life seems to return to those simple questions. Who am I? Am I good enough for me? Will I ever be good enough for me? When I ask myself these questions, the answer seems to vary.
But that’s okay. I’ll worry about those questions later…
So, the Library trip. I took notes during the event, so I will try my best to explain what it was to me.
Part one: the skytrain
- Rushing, always rushing to get to the train
- An uncomfortable realization that I should have brought a camera
- It was a very peaceful ride, for the most part
Part two: the book store
- Unbridled awe. How anyone can fit that many books into a store that small is beyond me. And we didn’t even get to see the basement!
- Frustration. The sorting system was not always helpful, and the owner was in great demand for help.
- Extreme joy upon finding books on the Dalai Lama.
- Surprise, when I realized that half of those books were written by the Dalai Lama.
- Upon leaving the store, I was very satisfied. The books I bought there were my main resource for the Eminent Person project, so I consider that store to have been the probably the most helpful resource for the project.
Part three: lunch
- The moment of silence before lunch was quite nice. As I sat there, wrapped in my blanket, I had an interesting personal realization. Consider yourself, fourteen years old. What have you accomplished? What have you done that you thought you could never do? Because when the Dalai Lama was fourteen years old, he was getting pressured into taking the political, and spiritual leadership of Tibet so that he could defend his country. For me, that moment solidified my desire to study this man.
- As always, Flying Wedge has delicious pizza. The soup, on the other hand… one could liken it’s appeal to the screeching wail of a banshee. I do not endorse that particular part of their menu.
Part four: the library
- I have gone to the Vancouver Library many times before. Every time, I leave with a armful of books. This time, however, I already had an armful of books from the store, and so I did not end up taking out any books. So I was feeling quite disappointed with… myself? The library? I’m not sure.
- Appreciation is always in my heart when I am in the library.
- Near the end of our time there, I left myself fifteen minutes to go get bubble tea. Upon paying, Fiona, Eric and I waited for our drinks for fifteen minutes. Then we had to go, without our drinks. That left me feeling a little annoyed.
Part five: the skytrain home
- Rushing. Sometimes walking, sometimes running, always rushing to get to the train.
- Peaceful reflection, except that this time around the train was rather crowded. Much jostling and bumping around occured.
Overall, the trip was wonderful. This trip is one that I whole-heartedly recommend to all those that do Eminent Person. I found myself walking away with far more than I thought I would.
One of my IEP interests is religion. When I was younger, I had a good friend, who one day realized I was an atheist. Because of my lacking faith in God he named me the devil child and tried to convert me/shield himself from me.
Haters gonna hate.
Anyways, since then a topic that has fascinated me has been how powerful someone’s faith can be, especially in cases where there may or may not be visible or quantifiable proof. Because of my curiosity concerning religion I chose to look for a religious leader for Eminent. The one that got my attention the most, was the 14th Dalai Lama. It’s hard, because this guy has a lot of names, so for all further appearances I will refer to him as Tenzin. Tenzin is, and always will be, an inspirational figure to me. In the face of great personal danger as well as inhumane cruelty against his people, Tenzin has always believed in compassion and love. He continues to be one of the greatest advocates for human rights, and his love of life and belief of goodness in everyone is incredible.
What follows is a short biography in which my initial research is presented. I tried to make it as concise as possible.
Tenzin was born Llhamo Dondrub, in a peasant family located in Qinghai, China. On December 17th, 1933, in Lhasa, Tibet, the 13th Dalai Lama died. The regent in Tibet at the time, Jamphel Yeshe Gyaltsen, had a vision where he determined the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama to be in the Amdo province in China. Gyaltsen then sent out a search party to locate the successor to the spiritual throne. What the party found was a two year old boy who immediately recognized the religious tools used by the previous Dalai Lama.
He was pretty cute. I gotta say, I like his hat.
The search party decided that Tenzin was the new reincarnation, and so they returned to Lhasa where Tenzin met Gyaltsen. After further tests, Tenzin was recognized as the new spiritual leader of Tibet, and was reborn as Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso. From there, he was sent off to various temples for monastic training, where Tenzin learned how to win the hearts of the people of Tibet.
You can really tell he’s winning the hearts of the people… I mean, who could resist that face?
In 1940, Gyaltsen, who was a mentor and father-figure to Tenzin, resigned because he broke his vow of celibacy. Tenzin appointed a new regent in Tathag Ripoche, another of his teachers. Six years later, in 1947 Gyaltsen attacked Tathag Ripoche, in an attempt to regain political power. In the attempt, the Ripoche monastery was destroyed. This betrayal was an important turning point for Tenzin, as from then on he made many more public appearances, making vows to teach happiness and enlightenment through a pacifistic path. For another three years, Tenzin learned and taught in Lhasa.
In 1950, a shocking change happened in China. The civil war had ended, and Chairman Mao had risen to the role of leadership. China began to threaten Tibet, claiming “Tibet is just a part of the People’s Republic of China… The Liberation Army will march on and emancipate it’s Tibetan People from the hands of the foreign Imperialists!”
Tibet immediately launched a demonstration and issued a press release, denying the need for emancipation because there was no foreign imperialists… but they were too late. On October 7th of 1950, the Chinese army invaded from the eastern side of Tibet, launching a full scale assault on the eastern capital Chamdo. The fast moving invaders caused the political elements in Tibet to convene, and they decided that they were out of options. Their last hope lay in His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. When Tenzin was 15 years of age, he ascended to the full throne of Tibet.
Tenzin fled Lhasa, going to southern Tibet. The Chinese pursued him, and Tenzin was then forced to flee to India, or risk all out war with the Chinese. In 1959, the Chinese shelled Lhasa, reducing much of the great city to rubble, and killing tens of thousands.
I have nothing to say on this one.
The Panchen Lama (the second to Dalai Lama) remained in Tibet. The Chinese allowed him to make a speech, and promised to let him live on the condition that he renounced the Dalai Lama, still in exile. In 1989, the Panchen Lama made a speech where he criticized the Chinese and reiterated that the Dalai Lama was the true leader of Tibet. He died shortly after.
In 1989 Tenzin received a Nobel Peace Prize. Upon his acceptance, he addressed the audience, saying “Individually, this prize does not mean much to me. However, for the entire Tibetan population it means so much. The true recipient of this prize for peace is none other than the Tibetan people.”
“Yeah, just got a nobel peace prize… thanks y’all, imma go sleep now.” -At the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony.
Working on this blog post, I thought that much of what I called ‘prep’ was inefficient and ultimately futile. I took a lot of stress breaks. I was not necessarily stressed about this blog post, but when I was stressed about other things I took time to play Batman: Arkham City, or listen to music or practice Tae Kwon Do when I could have been doing this assignment. I was inefficient (remember?) so I delayed this until last minute.
I also had some problems deciding on a word. I wanted it to be the best possible word for me, so I rejected a lot of perfectly fine choices because of a misguided belief that my destined word would appear in flames before my eyes, or some other nonsense. Until my older sister pointed this out to me, I was unaware that when I paced the house muttering “What is the word that perfectly encompasses all I am, and all I aspire to?” my whole family stared at me.
Yeah, I guess one could say that I am a perfectionist.
The word I ended up on was quite different than the word I first picked. I thought at first I would pick Learn. “Yes,” I thought “here is a word that I can play with, I can talk about learning from life, plus it makes teachers think ‘IDEA! He is going to be a great learner!’” However, as I contemplated my word choice further, I began to realize that the word I originally thought to be ‘the one’ actually didn’t fill me with pride, or elation. In fact, thinking about using Learn as my word just made me….
Well there you go. Now everyone knows my great secret. Teachers, just fail me now. So, as a bolt of mental lightning hit me and forced me to see the light (Learning is tiring? Say WHAT!) I began to deliberate on different words. I thought about Understanding. “Nah. What about creating, innovating? I like those, and Understanding doesn’t cover them very well.” Then I meditated on Change. “Hmmm. This could be it. I like Change; it’s kinda cool.” But as I began to write this post, I realized with a start what my perfect word is. Love.
Love, you say? Why? Isn’t love just an overly romanticized concept that fills the heads of children with nonsense about how their future is a fairy tale with a happy ending just waiting in the wings when they should be learning about stocks, and planning 10?
Well… I guess if you want to look at it like that, you could.
But I know I don’t.
When I think of love, I think of things that make me happy. I think of coming home to a warm dinner, finally playing that piece of music that’s stumped me, singing obnoxious pop songs at full blast when the house is empty, watching Star Trek, or breaking through wooden boards with my fist. See, these are things that make me happy. These are things that I Love. When I am feeling like I want to HULK SMASH because I am so angry at the world and everyone and everything is conspiring against me to make my life miserable, sometimes I need to pause and take a moment for myself.
I’m sure many of you have heard about how taking breaks to do something you love actually increases your efficiency, rather than decreasing it? This is a very good point for the validity of love, but I would rather focus on happiness than efficiency. Someone once said that “It does not matter the breaths you take, only the moments that take your breath away.” Doing things you love just because you love them is perfectly okay. Working and being productive is all well and good, but sometimes you just need to remember the things you love, and why you love them. Honestly, it’s a remarkably calming exercise.
(Click HERE to go a Ted Talk talking about the power of taking breaks)
Taking all these things into account, my new mantra is going to be: Love life. I know that’s not a word, but whatever. Love can be my word. I’m just needy, so I get a mantra too.
As I come to the end of this post I am starting to think that maybe my ‘prep’ time wasn’t so bad. Taking breaks to remind myself of my love of Batman, or of how much I enjoy ho-cho possibly was not such a bad idea. Oh, sure it was certainly very inefficient, but maybe it wasn’t an exercise in futility after all.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is to great a burden to bear.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Leave a reply if you want to suggest more songs
Mulan: I’ll make a Man out of You.
Little Mermaid: Under the Sea
Lion King: Hakuna Matatta
The Jungle Book: Bear Necessities
Aladdin: Friend Like Me
Lion King: I Just Can’t Wait To Be King
Tangled: When Will My Life Begin
Aladdin: A Whole New World
Lion King: Circle of Life
Hercules: I will Go The Distance
Tangled: I Have a Dream
Hercules: I Won’t Say I’m In Love
Beauty and the Beast: Tale as old as Time
Tangled: I See The Light