A Peek Into My Book Of Role Models

Okay guys, this is going to be random. I’ve determined to post twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays. I want to find a new groove with this blog. However, I still haven’t gotten the chance to do a thorough brainstorm session and rehaul content strategy etc… (in other words, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT!).

So forgive me as I indulge in one of my favorite past times,

Sharing role model inspiration. 

Nobody is perfect, I know. I also know that the people that we meet have often endured senseless pain, overcome overwhelming obstacles, and made huge sacrifices that most of us won’t ever know about.

I believe there is a little bit of role model in every person I meet, and I enjoy seeking that out. I may or may not have an entire journal full of life inspiration I’ve taken away from the incredible people who (often unknowingly) make my life special.

I’m a firm believer in having role models. Today I give you a peek into my favorite role model of the minute:

Theodore Roosevelt

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Theodore believed in what he called ‘a strenuous life’. He was constantly seeking a challenge to tackle, a project that would benefit society in some way. He wasn’t a natural leader. In fact, he wasn’t even naturally energetic or healthy.

As an asthmatic teenager his father pulled him to the side and said,

“Theodore you have the mind but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. I am giving you the tools, but it is up to you to make your body.”

Around the same time, Teddie read a poem that shocked him. He realized that just having great role models and learning about great men from history was not enough. To truly honor his heroes, he had to take action.

From that point on, Teddie was, for better or worse, a man of endless action. When he was sworn into the presidency, he placed his hand on James 1:21-23:

And become doers of the word and not hearers only, who delude themselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, this one is like a man considering in a mirror the face he was born with;

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Roosevelt pushed himself to the max, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The asthmatic kid with horrible eyesight would become one of the most diversely accomplished men to walk this planet. Seriously folks, youngest U.S. President, corruption tackler, trust buster, war hero, bear hunter, reorganizer of the US navy, cowboy, business man, best-selling author, historian, noble peace prize winner, conservationist, natural historian, philanthropist… what didn’t he do?

Majestic El Capitan at sunrise.

The thing I love most about Theodor Roosevelt was his strong moral compass. Throughout the hardships, political turmoil and personal tragedy, his morals never wavered. He knew what he thought was right and he fought for it, no matter the cost.

From the beginning to the end of his political career, Theodore Roosevelt never cared for making popular decisions. In fact, he began fighting corruption as a low-level local politician (unheard of in a political climate characterised by city bosses and favoritism).

He was even hired by the New York City Police Department to deal with impossible culture  of corruption and bribery. Just as always, he delivered.

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As president he fought for the moral high ground against political bureaucracies, big businesses (busted numerous trusts), and in the worker’s unions that he championed.  Often he made decisions that could have meant political suicide and physical danger. He didn’t care what was popular, he cared for what was right.

If you like reading, I highly highly recommend Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of American Leadership by Jon Knokey. 

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It focuses on Theodore Roosevelt’s life before the presidency, attempting to follow his growth from sickly nobody to commanding leader.

I enjoyed every page.

Guys, I love quotes, I love biographies, and I love me some role models. I could do a weekly series highlighting my favorite role models from history, pop culture, and my own life. But would you, dear reader, be interested in that?

Please comment and let me know!

 

My Thoughts on La La Land

A couple weeks ago my best friend took me to see her favorite new movie, La La Land. I had heard that it was pretty great. In fact, my friend took me out for coffee beforehand to give me the whole schpeel on the colours, costumes, cinematography, live singing, one-take scenes, authentic Ryan Gosling piano playing and Emma Stone singing, and all other bits and bobs, just to make sure I appreciated it as much as I ought.

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Naturally, I was expecting it to be pretty good. However, I wasn’t expecting it to be one of those punch-you-right-between-the-eyes kinda films.

Here are a few candid thoughts from my journal the night I watched it:

“How cynical have I become? I used to be a dreamer. I would have been able to relate to the characters in the story, the hopelessly passionate dreamers of our world. But I am disillusioned.

*censored personal rantage*

…I do sympathise with dreamers, but I also resent them. Things just don’t go the way we plan as kids. Everyone must learn to compromise.”

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On the one hand, it is sad to watch a movie and realize that while a couple of years ago I could have put myself in the shoes of the characters to dance about, I have somehow become too cynical and unromantic now.

On the other hand, I am not at all tempted to change my ways. I am pretty much satisfied with being practical. This is how things have to be (for now at least).

 

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By far my favorite scene/song in the film.

 

Another thing the movie made me think about (and this is a bit more of a spoiler, so read ahead with caution) is all the could-have-been’s in life. It is a scary reality that every day we make choices that affect our entire lives. When we pursue one dream, we often (be it knowingly or unknowingly) leave another in the dust.

Okay, so enough personal mumbo-jumbo.

Can we talk about the music? Can we talk about how lil sis and I are going to spend the next few months digesting and regurgitating the entire soundtrack? Because it is epic.

I love musicals and am thankful that La La Land brought a traditional musical to the big screen. For that reason, I can forgive the film for leaving me a wet soggy broken mess unable to stop crying through the entirety of the credits.

Have you seen La La Land yet? What did you think?

I’m Glad I Allowed Go Set A Watchman To Ruin Me

This summer has been cray cray. After a hectic week as a counselor in an Uh.Maze.Ing Christian summer camp, I came home, unpacked, and promptly caught a cold. As horrible as this sounds, I am more than happy to be banished to my bedroom in complete exhaustion for a few days. Why you ask? Because almost a month ago my preordered copy of Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee’s highly anticipated sequel (pre-quel?) for To Kill A Mockingbird, came in the mail. Unfortunately, I have been far too busy to even pick it up and smell the crisp new pages or admire the gorgeous cover design.

Go Set A Watchman cover

I pre-ordered it planning to read it the day it came out, but I ended up being in an amazing national college training that week. When I returned home two weeks ago, I saw it sitting contentedly on my nightstand. I squealed.

“Uh, you might not want to read that.”

My dad warned me that the reviews that had been coming out were not at all positive.

“It ruins To Kill A Mockingbird.”

And thus I let the book sit in my dresser drawer for two weeks while I contemplated what to do. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time. I DO NOT reread books, like ever. But I’ve read To Kill A Mockingbird three times. It is one of the books that defines who I am as a reader and as a person. I could not bear to have it ruined.

On the other hand, I was too curious to let the sequel go. I wanted to learn more about this mysterious Harper Lee who wrote the masterpiece of American literature and then disappeared for over half a century. And goodness sakes, I never buy books, particularly new books. There is no way I could waste over twenty dollars on a book that I would never read.

So when sickness settled upon me and I fell into the first bored moments of the summer, I decided to cautiously open the cover and give Go Set A Watchman a chance. I had the time to devour the entire novel whole. And lemme tell you, it was quite an emotional journey.

It started out slow. Real slow. The writing was nowhere near as polished as To Kill A Mockingbird. It read more like a first draft than a finished work. It was fun to be introduced to some of my dearly beloved characters, but eventually I started to get bored with the absolute lack of plot or theme.

THEN BOOM.

Without revealing any spoilers, I’ll just say that halfway into the novel Harper Lee shocked me with a revelation I could never have anticipated. I had never been so angry at an author in all my born days. HOW COULD SHE BE SO CRUEL? HOW COULD SHE RUIN MY LIFE LIKE THAT?

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Through anger and tears, I tore through the remaining half of the novel. As I read, I realized that Lee’s scheme was a tad bit brilliant… I was experiencing the exact emotions that the main character was feeling: confusion, betrayal, cynicism, disbelief at everything I had ever held dear.

In a way, yes, this would ruin To Kill A Mockingbird for me forever. I can no longer go back and read TKAM with the same innocent hope that I used to read it with. However, Harper Lee didn’t  ruin one of the most important novels of the 20th century for no reason. She had a moral, a very clear lesson to be learned.

As a stand alone novel, Go Set A Watchman would be nothing. There is a lack of plot and character development. The dialog is not very believable and the prose are unpolished. However, if you, like me, grew up reading and being defined by To Kill A Mockingbird, then Go Set A Watchman will punch you and beat you and teach you a lesson you might never have learned any other way.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, Harper Lee uses the emotional attachment people have for her first novel to reveal a new truth, a deeper harder to bear truth. Yes, it will change how you look at TKAM forever. So read and enjoy TKAM alone first. Maybe read it three times. Digest it. Enjoy it. Suck every bit of truth out of it. But if, like me, you have already learned what you need to learn from TKAM, then it is not a loss to let it be ruined for the sake of understanding the more mature, more complicated, moral lesson of Go Set A Watchman.

In the end, I’m glad I read it. Go Set A Watchman would NOT be a good stand alone novel. It would NOT be good to read right after enjoying To Kill A Mockingbird. It is not the masterpiece of literature that To Kill A Mockingbird was and still is. But, it holds a lesson just as clear and just as important as To Kill A Mockingbird. When you are ready to accept the world in its cruel unfairness and grow up a  right next to Jean Louise Finch, I would say, give it a read.

Now, since I am still coping with the blow this book gave me, I would love to know your thoughts. Have you read it yet? Can we start a support group for struggling readers?