Branches Wait Over the Edge

Emma - Wilmette, Illinois
Entered on November 4, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

People make mistakes. Bad days are inevitable. Life happens. The only problem proves to be that unfortunate circumstances can lead to more severe issues. People allow uncontrollable events to take the joy out of life. I have faith that there will always be a person, feeling, or passion to catch me when I fall. Even when I slip over the edge of the mountain, I search for the branch to save me. Everyone has something to hold on to. My branch was theater.

I remember the draining feeling of losing belief. My theater production was rapidly approaching its first performance. Homework and a family situation left me with the need for time that didn’t exist. I slept for an average of three hours a night for two weeks. I started to wonder why I ever liked acting; my hobby was preventing me from experiencing sleep or passion. My stress level was raised so high that one afternoon, I woke up to the cold hard floor of a hallway at home. I don’t typically have a physical reaction to stress, so this unexpected blackout was shocking. Somehow, I made it through those tough weeks. Weak and sleep-deprived, I managed to drag my feet to center stage for our first show. The curtain opened and the warmth of the glowing spotlight overwhelmed me. Suddenly I remembered why I put myself through this misery twice a year. The adrenaline rush of opening night gives me more than adequate ever could.

Although not extreme, I got a taste of what it might be like to face what seemed like the end of my uncomplicated existence. On September 11, 2001, the United States shook with the terror of this concept. Someone in the world wanted us to suffer. They wanted us to forget the importance of our small part in life. While helpless citizens burned alive, the villains got exactly what they wanted: chaos and paranoia. Families grieved over the loss of innocent loved ones. I didn’t lose anyone, and I wasn’t there, so I suffered only the mild side effects of this day. Still, I felt the same concern and horror as everyone in the nation. As hard as that day is for people to remember, it happened. Although they may still need to be reminded to smile, time has started to heal their wounds. People have begun to trust the world again.

Picking yourself up when you fall isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. One of my closest friends learned that lesson the hard way. He had always been one of the happiest people I knew. With the innocence of a child, he trusted simple ideals and found a way to make them present in his life. After spending two weeks in Wisconsin one summer, I returned to a very different version of him. He was quiet and unenthusiastic. Cold and distant. The role model searched for relief in all of the wrong places. He made himself feel better by shutting out the rest of the world. To this day, I have no idea what happened to rob him of his potential. It was hard for me to have hope for him when he clearly didn’t believe it existed. Still, life would be harder to tolerate without him. Night after night, I sat in a corner and listened to his leave-a-message greeting. I sent him notes and pictures, desperately trying to help him rediscover beauty. Somehow, I got through to him. His fear of happiness slowly slipped away and his crow’s feet returned. His eyes redeveloped the content look that always brightens my day. We have since rebuilt the foundation of our friendship, and it constantly grows stronger. I think he just needed to know that someone cared about him, and for someone to prove that there is never a shadow without a light close by.

Reinhold Niebuhr once said, “Nothing which is true, or beautiful, or good, makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith.” Faith can save a soul from itself, just like a branch can save a person from falling off a mountain. No one cries for help unless they hold a pure faith that somewhere, there is an answer. Once find it, the world’s basic comforts will make them smile again. A simple “hello” could be enough to show someone the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, sometimes people lose faith in the things that used to make them happy. People can always be reminded. This, I believe.