Have you seen “The Hobbit”? Both the book and films depicted a glorious world of magical creatures, where Tolkien told a fast-paced, flawless adventure. He created many animate and fascinating characters, like Mr. Bilbo Baggins, who is alike with me in ways, because we both stepped out of our own world, by making choices, facing unknown wilderness, and resolving various conflicts.
Young Bilbo loved his warm, cozy hobbit hole, which he hesitated much to leave when told that an adventure awaited him, and was in relentless conflict with himself. The unexpected party of Gandalf, Thorin, and the dwarfs burst through his round hobbit door, then conveyed their destined quest of regaining kingdom and gold from Smaug the dragon. And Bilbo will be the burglar. However, tea sharp at four and six meals a day is proper for hobbits. Certainly not filthy, exhausting, precarious adventures out of their safe Hobbiton and the Shire. Mr. Bilbo didn’t want to become a queer hobbit in the eyes of the others.
But the dwarves’ song moved him, and their affection of cunning, beautiful things. “He wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking stick……and he thought of the plundering dragons settling on his quite Hill and kindling it all into flames. He shuddered; and very quickly, he was plain old Mr. Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill, again. “(19-20, Tolkein) After a night of an intense fight with his mind, a tug deep in his stomach sent him off. Without handkerchiefs, without a hat, without money or any confidence at all. Even the dwarves doubt their new burglar.
Their journey was, of course, lengthy and not at all comfortable. They encountered heavy storms, stone giants, goblins, spiders, and incessant starvation. “This was one of his most miserable moments……no hope of any breakfast to revive him. So he sat down with his back to a tree, and not for the last time fell to thinking of his far-distant-hobbit-hole with its beautiful pantries.” (180) Bilbo groaned and moaned for his hobbit whole through these horrible encounters, wondering why he had come. Nevertheless, he never turned back. Gradually, he was not the same hobbit as before. “Somehow the killing of this giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark . . . made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath.” (181) Stronger, braver, and quite important, for he showed himself worthy by saving the dwarves. He struggled with himself and the formidable nature, furthermore, he courageously fought off his nemeses. Even though the quest was bumpy, Bilbo recognized the world through his own eyes, not through books, maps, or songs. He witnessed the vast wilderness, stunning elfin towns, the great mountains, the magnificent Erebor, and the viciousness of war. Which proved that he had made the right choices.
Like I said, Mr. Bilbo and I are alike in ways.
Whenever I see pictures of holiday paradises in my friends’ moments or astounding records of games during breaks, I long for them. I long to lie on my bed all day, play video games with friends, eat away, and travel to places for a relaxing holiday.
However, from the day when I chose that I would become a sailor, I would have to input all of my time into sailing, apart from academics. Since then, every training, race, are constant struggles, struggles with self, nature, and of course others. Sailing is a true test of both physicals (I’m not at all good at, but am working on) and mental strength. Every time I get covered by another sailor, I blame myself for why I’m not tough enough, or then I wonder why I need to be tough. Every time the rain pours, or the waves swallows, and the wind tears, I quiver, longing for my bed onshore, thinking of giving up and why I had ever come. But, I never once returned home.
Sailing has changed me. I have discovered the power and magnificence of nature. I love to sail pass towering cliffs and be embraced by the azure blue. Or surfing the waves towards the horizon, where the sun awaits, painting the sky in countless hues. Though, I occasionally get inauspicious doubts from friends or relatives, since they don’t understand why all the hard work is worthy. Well, sailing has brought me more than I could imagine. I have been able to compete at places around the world, and meet many new people and friends. Moreover, I have become more independent, fierce, and competitive.
All in all, Mr. Bilbo Baggins and I are similar in many ways, since we chose to step out of our comfortable little whole, into the vast unknown. We have both overcame our conflicts with ourselves, the wilderness, and others. Furthermore, I genuinely believe that, deep within our hearts, we are glad and gratified of the choices we have made, our encounters, and who we have become.
“She wore a triumphant smile. ‘Strongest wind cannot be seen,’ she said. Her black men advanced across the plane, slowly marching to each successive level as a single unit. My white pieces screamed as they scurried and fell off the board one by one……” (Tan,6) The game of chess is played by millions of people across the world. People enjoy battles between minds, and some advance to become illustrious Grand Masters. A new chess star of the China town of San Francisco, Waverly Place Jong, is a diligent and focused chess player, but a naïve girl.
First of all, Waverly is a determined chess player, who is diligent. “I read the rules and looked up all the big words in a dictionary. I borrowed books from the Chinatown library. I studied each chess piece, trying to absorb the power each contained.” (3) Once she is engaged in learning chess and playing it well, she tries everything to study and advance. “I learned about opening moves and why it’s important to control the centre early on; I …… all weaknesses and advantages become evident to a strong adversary and are obscured to a tiring opponent.” (3) This clearly expresses how hardworking and meticulous she is in mastering her techniques, by embedding all possible details in her mind.
Furthermore, Waverly has solid concentration. “I loved the secrets I found within the sixty-four black and white squares. I carefully drew a handmade chessboard and pinned it to the wall next to my bed, where I would stare for hours at imaginary battles.” (3) Imagining for hours’ takes vast concentration, which also shows her zealous passion towards chess. “As I began to play, the boy disappeared, the colour ran out of the room, and I saw only my white pieces and his black ones waiting on the other side. A light wind began blowing past my ears. It whispered secrets only I could hear. ‘Blow from the South,’ it murmured. ‘The wind leaves no trail.’ “(4) As shown, Waverly’s entirely focused in her game. Nothing else is in her considerations, simply the pieces on her battlefield.
However, Waverly is an innocent girl who doesn’t know how to communicate effectively with her mom. Waverly’s mom is very proud of Waverly’s accomplishments in chess, but when she took honor from it, she did not consider Waverly’s feelings. However, Waverly blurted out, “’Why do you have to use me to show off? If you want to show off, then why don’t you learn to play chess?’” (5) It was an immature and naive move. Even though it was wrong for her mom to show off, Waverly wasn’t able to control her feelings and communicate with her mom efficiently to express herself, instead, she made her mom feel hurt and offended. Which obviously did not at all help, and only made the situation worse. For her mom said. “’We not concerning this girl. This girl not have concerning for us.’” (5) Actually, Waverly and her mother’s situation is a very classic example of many Chinese families. The parents usually have high expectations for their child to excel in what they think is important, which they then take honor of. However, the child’s feeling or opinion is often not acknowledged, since communication is lacked. As a result, the child does not know how to express themselves correctly to their parents, which then leads to conflicts.
All in all, even though Waverly is an unsophisticated and naïve girl, she is genuinely a diligent and concentrated chess player. She has a young, yet strong mind. For chess is a game of the strength of mind, which requires a powerful and intelligent brain, as well as excellent endurance and anticipation.
This year, school started on Monday, different from the last 3 years. It was a fresh start and I was able to adapt back to school smoothly. Even though all of my close friends are in classes next door, I was still able to enjoy most classes. Now that I am an eighth grader, I am ready to take up more responsibility, as well as challenges. Furthermore, the units of core classes are fairly interesting and would seem like great learning and fun, so I am looking forward to this school year.
- What are you looking forward to learning in Grade 8 this year?
For Grade 8 Humanities this year, I would like to learn more world history, like detailed American history, or recent Chinese history. Also, I would like to learn the basics of Economics, for understanding how the currency system of the world runs.
- What challenges will you face?
Challenges I will face would be arranging enough time throughout the year to be able to finish ten books with my busy afterschool schedule. Remembering information that I learn would also be a challenge since I have a horrible memory.
- What is your plan to meet those challenges?
I would arrange my own detailed timetable to ensure 20-30 minutes of reading is available daily. Furthermore, I would take notes, even if not required, and review them often.