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Personal Essay- Carmen, a person of significant influence


thecirclegame 2 / 7  
Dec 15, 2009   #1
Please help me edit this!
Be brutal in your comments!!! Thank you!
Oh, and please tell me if this fits under:

"Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence."
or "Other".

I always walk to school in a pair of boots. On most days, instead of travelling on the good solid sidewalk like most students do, I take a winding, muddy path through tall, waving grasses and cattails.

I never met the person who made the trail. I stumbled across his creation in grade ten. While meandering around the football field on my way home, I noticed that someone had torn a (very neat) hole through the fence separating our school from the ravine behind it. There was a 3-foot wide gully at the bottom of the ravine- a tricky obstacle for any short-cutters, especially in the Canadian winter. However, the hole-maker had also taken the time to construct a simple bridge.

I crossed the bridge, and saw that the ravine was full of the pleasant surprises of autumn. I stood in wonder as a mole (Condylura cristata, as I found out through a little Googling that night) stopped right in front of my shoes. He slurped up a juicy worm like he was eating a spaghetti. Chickadees hopped from branch to branch. Goldfinches flew like miniature torpedoes across the sky. I had lived for the most of my life in suburban neighbourhoods composed of identical houses with perfectly manicured lawns. Before the anonymous bridge builder brought me to the ravine, I did not have many close encounters with the wilderness. I closed my eyes, immersing myself in the spirit of the ravine.

The next morning, my all-knowing friend Carmen shattered any romantic notions I had formed overnight about the identity of the bridge-maker. I had imagined him to be like the old man in the Will Allen Dromgoole's poem, The Bridge Builder. I pictured him, thinking to himself as he toiled over the almost-frozen gully:

"This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him".

"Pshh...Get real!" Carmen said, breaking me out of my reverie. "I think it was probably someone who was too lazy to walk all the way around the ravine to get to school."

I realized that she was probably right. But even if the anonymous bridge maker was not wholly altruistic in his actions, I had to admire him for two reasons:

1) Because he taught me about the beauty of chickadees and moles, and;
2) because of his nerve- it must have taken guts to saw a hole through the school fence.

What use was there in grumbling about the lethargy of my generation, while ignoring the potential everyone has to make a difference? It is slightly absurd to be so impacted by an average teenager whom I never even met. But, maybe it was better, in a way, that the bridge builder was not the venerable old man in Dromgoole's poem. If an ordinary teenager could bring such beauty into my day (even by serendipity), then so could I for someone else, I realized. If he could tear a hole through that cold, grey, chain-linked fence, then perhaps I could too-metaphorically.

At that moment I chose to pay the bridge-builder's act forward. I decided to carry out my first mission at a monotonous section of road near my school. On that road, I would create a few unexpected delights for my targets: groggy-eyed students on their way to school. So, on the next day, I armed myself with an arsenal of multicoloured chalk and drew, over several slabs of sidewalk, the anonymous bridge builder's gift to me. I drew yellow goldfinches and spiral-shelled snails. I drew tall, brown grasses and red and golden leaves.

That night, I slept poorly. I kept wondering: would anybody like my drawing? Would my pictures bring the same wonder to a passer-by, as the Anonymous Bridge-Maker's deed did for me? Would anybody prosecute me for vandalism? (I chastised myself for not consulting regulations on the appropriate use of sidewalk chalk). I fell asleep, at last, with the comforting thought that chalk is washable.

The next morning, two girls stopped by my drawing. "Wow, that's really pretty!" said one of them, and my heart swelled with true pride to know that I had made someone's world more beautiful.

[transition]

An anonymous adolescent had built a simple bridge and created infinite repercussions in my life. I now realize the importance of seizing every opportunity to brighten the world, or simply, someone's day. I try to act on this principle every day. I shall continue to pass on the bridge-maker's serendipitous, but beautiful gift as I embark on my journey in University. Every day, I shall build bridges for the world.
OP thecirclegame 2 / 7  
Dec 15, 2009   #2
Wups. The person is actually "Anonymous Bridge Maker"-- not Carmen... freudian slip...
Vulpix - / 71  
Dec 15, 2009   #3
Very nice work! You write extremely well, and your sense of humor and personality really comes through as well. I think your work fits the prompt passably well- it's an unconventional connection, but not an unsuitable one.

Speaking of Freudian slips, I called my teacher "Mom" by accident today. This resulted in a very awkward pause, followed by equally awkward laughter. Note to self: never do that again.

Stray comments to possibly improve your already-good essay:

I thought the ending was rather disappointing. I mean, I know the bridge symbolism is just too convenient to resist, but all of this metaphorical bridge-building brings to mind the motivation posters on my guidance counselor's wall. "What?!" you're probably thinking. "There's such thing as a too-cliche college essay? Nonsense!" But really, I don't think it would be too difficult for you to be a little more creative with the ending.

Your descriptive writing is the highlight of your essay, especially as you describe the ravine. The lowlight for me would be the aforementioned conclusion, and also the dialogue with your friend Carmen the Cynic. I am most definitely nit-picking at this point, but her conversation detracts from the meditative tone and humor of the rest of your essay.

Also: "What use was there in grumbling about the lethargy of my generation, while ignoring the potential everyone has to make a difference?"

I don't see what this sentence has to do with anything else. Did you mention lethargy earlier?
OP thecirclegame 2 / 7  
Dec 15, 2009   #4
Freudian slips FTW! Thank you for your critique!

I removed the lethargy sentence, and changed the ending somewhat. It might not be the most creative ending possible (still slightly cliched), but it was the best that I could come up with so far:

The next morning, two girls stopped by my drawing. "Wow, that's really pretty!" said one of them, and my heart swelled with true pride to know that I had made someone's world more beautiful. I smiled and skipped the rest of the way to school in my boots, eager to pass on the bridge-maker's gift to the rest of the world.

Again, thank you!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Dec 17, 2009   #5
I always walk to school in a pair of boots.

Now turn your mind sideways as you read the essay again... and then go back and let this opening line morph into something worthy of the essay. It can express the same thing about wearing boots so you can take the trail, but turn it sideways.

You write so well! Obviously, this will be successful.

This paragraph needs at least one mention of a COLOR.
I never met the person who made the trail. I stumbled...


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