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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

The end of the sentence

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(9/2015) "When I grow up . . ." has always been the constant companion to an ever changing second half. The end of this simple sentence has been reliant on my numerous flights of fancy that I have had throughout my life. One that I hold close to my heart is my love of books.

Even as a little girl, I was a voracious reader. My mother, who is also an avid fan of literature, encouraged me in my budding literary pursuits. We have always been reading buddies and when we would get a chance, we would swap plots, theories or opinions.

Growing up, I always favored books about wildlife and the great animal kingdom. This was coupled with my childhood crush on Steve Irwin; I believed that my future lay in the study of faunae. So there I was, six years old and wanting to be a veterinarian.

The years following, I discovered science and the joys of aquatic life and decided on marine biology as my next career choice. I was thirteen years old and in seventh grade when I discovered my aversion to blood and dissection and that led to the conclusion that maybe I should steer clear of the biological sciences. By this point, I thought maybe I should be a wildlife photographer for National Geographic.

Freshman year of high school I settled, somewhat reluctantly, on being a primary school teacher. I say reluctantly because I saw what teachers have to put up with on a daily basis and I knew I did not have the patience or passion to do that. I did not want to choose a career that I could not see myself doing sixty years (or more) down the road. I wanted to find something I was truly passionate for, something that would make me excited to go to work each day. It was with the help of my best friend and a few amazing English teachers I found myself on my current path towards an English major.

Funnily enough, it started in Algebra I, which was my least favorite of all my subjects, second only to gym class. My best friend, Kailey, and I started the age-old practice of passing notes (discreetly, of course). When we would run out of topics we would swap writing prompts. If neither of us finished by the end of the period, we would continue writing and exchange when they were finished. It was during these sessions I discovered my love for writing. We have always encouraged each other's writings, acting as readers, editors, and critics.

I found my fondness and appreciation for the written word grow when I was under the tutelage of some fantastic English teachers. The ones that spring to the forefront of my mind are Mrs. Bonnie Pratt and Mr. Samuel Cuthbert. Mrs. Pratt is a no nonsense woman with a penchant for dramatics and Mr. Cuthbert is a gentle literary man with an enthusiastic and creative insights. Overall, both are extremely unique individuals that compelled me to look at the text in a different light with a different point of view.

With Mrs. Pratt I covered the American writers and read the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was in this class I discovered the purpose writers place behind their words that, at times, transcend the mind of the reader. A writer places, not just any random word, but the perfect possible word to convey a meaning or an idea and, as readers, we seldom pay attention to them.

Let me explain. Think of several words that share the same meaning, for example, happy, joyful, and elated. They are all in some way related to each other, but they carry a different weight in our minds when we read them. If I was to say "She was happy," you would think that this fictional girl had a good day with decent weather and pleasant enough encounters. However, if I was to say, "She was elated." You would assume that something special happened today, outside of weather and small discoveries, something big that would evoke something outside of just happiness.

Looking back on what I have written, I find that I have somewhat digressed. So back to the subject at hand, which is now Mr. Cuthbert’s British Literature class. This class, I also happened to share with my dear, previously mentioned friend (and partner-in-covert note passing), Kailey. In his class we traversed the history of British literature and the English language from the Viking era though Shakespeare. We read works such as Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Macbeth. He always emboldened us to look at the work differently. He taught us to approach it as not just text, but as a window through which we could see how people hundreds of years ago viewed humanity and how this view could connect one way of life with our own.

It is amazing what makes you decide what to be when you grow up, whether it is a person or experience. It might have been something that was insignificant to one person, but it now has completely and ineffably changed the course of your life. If you are one of those people that have found the ending to the sentence, think of the people and experiences that shaped it. If your one of the people that have not, do not worry, you are probably just waiting for something to offer the perfect punctuation.

For me, the end of my sentence was found in two lovely literature teachers, one word-wise companion, and a bookworm mother.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir