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"My father's presence" - a person who has had a significant influence on your life


calebgodsey 4 / 10  
Oct 13, 2010   #1
(I would really appreciate 'substance' comments--does the essay demonstrate thoughtfulness or reflectiveness. Also, flow needs a lot of work so any help there would be appreciated as well. Thanks!)

If who we are were shaped through the influences of others, then ironically, these others would cease to be differentiated from oneself. But rather, others become the very origin of our identity-in which a coalesce of one's self and others occurs. Therefore one's identity is akin to the influences of others. These influences can never simply exist as white and black. Instead, they exemplify dualistic qualities of both positives and negatives-bleeding into the lightness between the extremities of white and black. My father's presence, as well as his absence, helped thread together the very fibers of my being-my identity.

My coke had spilt on the new car interior. The blotchy brown stain quickly emerged, as if it had always been there. Dad had just bought me that coke too, although, my fear of the stain out weighs my lament. Slowly peeping up at the driver's side, maybe this unfortunate accident has gone unnoticed. It is too late. A quick glance into the rear view mirror has given me up. Dad's face confuses me. Instead of a scowl, a slight smirk. This unexpected facial contortion has dissipated all fearful uncertainties. We continued our car ride, enjoying the rest of my coke.

It is peculiar-how my father's facial expression could alter my emotion so profoundly. Inconsistencies in response were often the defining essence of my father. A simple smirk rather than frown could completely alter the experience of a car ride. It is in these inconsistencies that I formed individuation.

Coming home from an oppressive institution, known as a second grade school day, I quickly burst through our front door. Spewing a light musk of wood and dust as its warm mahogany frame closed behind me. This was the day after my birthday. Each and every second away from my new gameboy was an uneventfully blind moment in time and space. Nothing could have or should have been perceived. All matters keeping me from my new gift were irrelevant.

The moment I reached the threshold of my room a sudden voice boomed from the downstairs. This voice belonged to my father, summoning me from my room. I felt a similar feeling to that of a convict who has been extradited. Slowly I take each step downward, backtracking mentally all of which I must have done. He must have been made aware of what I whispered during the 'nap time'. Or maybe he knew I hadn't eaten the raisins mom packed in my lunch. I was quite the negotiator, blessed with a silver tongue; I often could convince my peers that they really did want my raisins and not their oreos.

At last I had reached the final step of my descent. With my father in full view all convictions were made valid. He knew everything. The stern face which greeted me guaranteed one thing: 'I know.' I cautiously skirted in a circular direction toward this intimidating being. Placing both hands firmly over my backside-this was to ensure I could not be spanked. My father proceeded to question me. Why did I slam our new door, even after the numerous warnings? Why did I also throw my shoes, jacket, books and book bag on the floor? All of these points, like nails, physically pierced my body- like wooden planks being securely fastened to one another, my father delivering the blows. I was confused. Didn't dad understand my negligence was merely an accident? Just as the car ride was an accident. He did not. After that spanking I never again slammed our new door.

It is thought that cold is merely the absence of heat and darkness the absence of light. Laws of physics claim that beings or objects can only be studied through the possession or transmission of energy. At absolute zero, all matter becomes incapable of possession or transmission of energy. Therefore cold can not exist unto itself, but is a word which is used to describe how one feel's in the absence of heat. Light can be broken by Newton's prism and studied by color and wave length. Darkness can only be understood through the variances in the presence of light. Thus darkness can not exist unto itself either, but is a word which is used to describe the absence of light.

My father's absence in my life was birthed from an alcoholic marriage which ended in a sobering divorce. This absence provided childhood experiences of both positives and negatives. Therefore labeling his absence as entirely positive or entirely negative is nearly impossible. As cold is the absence of heat and darkness the absence of light-neither cold nor dark exist without an absence of either heat or light. Likewise, my individuation is merely an absence of experiences-experiences either positive or negative. Identity is not tangible, and can not be measured or studied. But what can be measured and studied are the experiences which shape and define one's identity. Part of my own identity exists through the absence of my father.

Awakening as a child was often a daunting task. My mother was compelled to assist in the process through a morning wake up call. The flick of a switch light in my room would instantly illuminate the embracing darkness of the previous night. Overcoming the temporary onslaught of blindness was an obstacle in itself. Mom would slowly enunciate my name and begin to tickle me fiercely. I would pretend to still be asleep-as if I were immune to her voice or the threat of wetting myself. I could never hold out for long. Once up and awake I began the morning rituals of preparing for the day. Soon I found myself in my third grade class room. There was something odd about this school day. Each of the fifteen desks were replaced with two long tables. Seated at these tables were my classmates joined by what appeared to be their fathers. What day was it? The realization soon hit me like a sniper hitting his mark-accurate and deadly. It was Doughnuts for Dads day. A warm rush of blood to my face engulfed me. I quickly composed myself and occupied one of the two empty seats. I took a brief moment to observe each of the fathers. Some wore suits, others uniforms, but all wore a sticker. This sticker stated: 'Father of _____.' Embarrassment and confusion soon washed over me. Didn't my dad know what today was? I glanced over at the empty seat next to me. From that moment on, a subconscious switch of roles took place in my identity-roles of a father and roles of a son. If there was to be an empty seat at all Doughnuts for Dads days from this day forward, I would cope. I would fill both empty seats.

The influence of my father upon my own identity can be seen through inconsistencies in his responses as well as presence. His contributions to my individuation were both positive and negative-both blending together. The union of the two formed an identity which can not be disjoined, for without one the union would cease to exist. The influence of my father has contributed in birthing my own identity through both his presence and absence.
fjfjfjf - / 13  
Oct 14, 2010   #2
I appreciated your essay, I thought it was both thoughtful and reflective given the prompt. As you say, I think the narrative needs a little work. Where you are at your strongest is in your use of abstraction. In particular, the second part of your essay detailing the absence of your father was well done. Where I would make some improvements is the way in which you bring your abstract conceptualization of identity formation into context with your personal narrative. This needs to be much tighter, more focused (especially if there is a word limit). Another way to write an essay like this--and this is just my opinion, you may want to stick with what you have--is to interrogate how the abstract "presence" or "absence" affected you on a personal level. Take a step back from your story and approach it how you might a novel. Think about about how the "character" in your novel is affected by the presence or absence of his father. Then explain why that matters. I've found this approach, at least for me, allows me to analyze how and why these two particular issues matter.

Another thought I had was the logic behind the construction of this argument:

If who we are were shaped through the influences of others, then ironically, these others would cease to be differentiated from oneself. But rather, others become the very origin of our identity-in which a coalesce of one's self and others occurs. Therefore one's identity is akin to the influences of others. These influences can never simply exist as white and black. Instead, they exemplify dualistic qualities of both positives and negatives-bleeding into the lightness between the extremities of white and black.

If I understand you correctly, you posit that the process of identity formation is shaped by our interaction with other people. Fair enough. To suggest that your father shaped your life, values, character, etc. is all well and good, but you seem to go further to suggest that your identity and his are inextricably linked. Yet where is the individual in this construction? Do we not have inherent individual agency? In your argument, where does your identity begin and your father's end?

Hopefully this helps you a bit. Good luck with your applications.
OP calebgodsey 4 / 10  
Oct 14, 2010   #3
So a way in which to bring my abstract conceptualization of identity formation into context with my personal narrative, might be achieved through expounding upon the 'character' and how he is affected personally? I really like that. I plan on inserting this exploration of the effects of my abstract proposition-- the absence of my father specifically, so as to be concise and to avoid tangents-- immediately after the paragraph about the Doughnuts for Dad's Day.

"Do we not have inherent individual agency? In your argument, where does your identity begin and your father's end?"

I formed the argument as I wrote the essay, so maybe I'm trying to say: There really can be no true individual agency, but rather a compilation of many influences. So, where one's identity begins and another's ends is--for my arguments sake--arbitrary. But rather, both the beginning of one and the end of another overlap as one-- paradox. . .? (What do you think, input would be great)

Thanks so much for the help!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Oct 16, 2010   #4
If who we are were

This whole essay is great, but this intro is awkward, very awkward.
If our identities are shaped by the influences of...

...these others would cease to be differentiated from oneself. ----- Thich Nhat Hanh got a word added to the dictionary: "interbeing."

Important idea: revise this sentence so that it expresses the answer to their prompt question or so that it expresses the main theme of the essay. You have to have a sentence that expresses the main truth of the essay, and it is useful to put it at the end of the first paragraph. It's the soul of the essay.

one word: cannot

This will be well received! You are obviously smart.


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