Letter to the Unknown

Guatemala, July 6, 2017

For the one that goes unseen and unheard,

I have to be honest with you; I never truly understood you and I never will. Perhaps when you get me I’ll do, but for now you remain being a mystery to me. You walk beside us every day, unseen and unheard. How dare you be around the corner without greeting? You pick the soul that’s ready to leave and without a warning you take their last breath. It’s up to you to decide when our last earthly day would be; I like to believe we have a mission in life and once we have completed it, you come for us. Might I be right? Or am I more than wrong? Perhaps you just choose to come for us when we have learned enough, when we have experienced enough. Possibly you come to give peace for those who are suffering or to take away the responsible for such pain. I guess I’ll never know. We seek to understand you, but we have not been able to do so. Some are just too afraid of you; they try to avoid you day by day. Others, like me, don’t fear you. I won’t say I can’t wait to meet you; that would be a huge lie. But if you decide to come after me, then take my soul, free me from earthly life and take me to my Father, where I belong. The thought of you won’t cause me chills. I don’t see you as a powerful being that would destroy my happiness. Actually, you are the path to get where true laughter and elation lies. You’ll put my body in an endless sleep; others would grieve my missing body which could be seen and heard in their earthly life. Then, with your soft and delicate hands, you’ll take my soul and guide me to Paradise. I’ll be more than happy, elated, or euphoric. It would be a feeling I would never be able to explain. In a mix of peace and laughter I’ll live. I’ll see my Father, my dear God. I’ll find again all those souls that live in that heavenly place. Thanks to you I’ll truly live and experience happiness in its purest form. People fear you because you are the unknown. They just had not realized that the mystery that lies in you is their key to Heaven. I’ll live to the fullest this earthly life so when you come and get me I’ll have no regrets. You can chase me, hunt me, but never forget: I don’t fear you, Death.

With admiration,

Isabella Estrada Arimany

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Set a Goal, Dare to Try New Things, Think Win-Win, Synergize, and Achieve Success

Take a moment to think about your life. Recall what you have lived; don’t forget about all those times you laughed so hard you could barely breathe, nor about all the obstacles you’d been through. What has got you where you are? What values and principles you based your life in that helped you stand where you are today? In other words, how did you become successful? Don’t tell me; just keep your answer in mind. With that in thought, what do you think someone ought to have in order to be successful in life? I want you to really think about it, to analyze it and perhaps you reach to the same conclusion as I did. Before you can read anything I need to be sure that you understand the concept of success. According to the Cambridge Dictionary it is the achieving of the results wanted or hoped for. With being that said I can tell you what I believe is the most important aspect you need to have in order to achieve success. One ought to be an innovator, who is not afraid but rather is brave, who is a man of action that has balance in life, who thinks out of the box and that works hard while embracing the differences among others. Luckily for all of us a program, The Leader in Me, gives you all the tools you need. It consists on seven habits; however, I believe some are more important than others. I believe one must be proactive and have an end in mind that will be achieved when synergizing and thinking win-win.

Has anyone ever told you that the first step to success is ambition and that the second one is action? Or perhaps you have heard that almost every successful person begins with two beliefs: that the future can be better than the present and that one has the power to make it so. The first habit, Be Proactive, shows you how one should assume responsibility of his or her actions in life. It talks about having the initiative to make things happen. It dares you to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. When one has the eagerness to do something and is courageous to try new things; then, nothing would stop that person to pursue what he or she wants. Some studies made by the Erasmus University revealed that innovation confers sustainable competitive advantages. The studies also showed that having proactivity and a high degree of persistence enables people to exploit the opportunities they identify which leads them to superior future performance.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. The second habit, Start with the End in Mind, shows you how to define a mission and goals for your life. It is about having a clear image of who one wants to become and being able to lead his or her future. You learn how to set goals and track them in order to achieve them.  It is said that goals are the key to success. By setting a goal it allows you to know what you want in the future and take control of your life in order to make it a reality. It enables you to focus on the important things, keeping the distractions away; this permits a person to become effective. Goals are a starting point of success, it helps you have an image of what you want and do what you can in order to achieve it. Studies have showed that people with goals are 75% more probable of being successful.

Mother Teresa said “I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot, and together we can do great things”. In order to work effectively on a team you should practice two habits, which are the fourth and sixth one. Think Win-Win, the fourth habit, makes you realize that everyone can win. It talks about mutual benefit, happiness for other’s success, and braveness. On the other hand, the sixth habit, Synergize, emphasizes on the importance of working together in order to achieve more. It shows you how to value the differences of others. It presents how different life experiences can combine to create an innovative idea. It talks about how 1+1 equals 3 or more. A recent study by Stanford University showed that an effective teamwork can lead to success. It demonstrated how when people are treated as partners or team members their motivation increases. Motivation from employees means more success for a company.

Some say one can still achieve success even if one does not work with a team. For example, J. K. Rowling says she feels more creative when she’s working alone with her own thoughts. Albert Einstein, the world renowned physicist, did his thinking alone. He used to say “the monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind”. Both of them achieved success in their lives and they rather work on their own. Then, why aspects from the fourth and sixth habits would be so important? Studies have proved that the lack of alignment within a team impacts negatively the outcome of a task or problem. Workplace failures usually occur by a lack of collaboration and/or ineffective communication. Studies prove that a diverse team can outperform a top performing, homogeneous group by up to six times. Since everyone has a different way of perceiving life, when looking for a solution to a problem people express many different ideas. These ideas combine to achieve the best alternative.

Success comes when people are ready to innovate, to face their fears, to act in order to achieve their dreams, and to work hard with others; then, one will be successful in life. The Leader in Me program has all the tools that can help you to become a leader and find success. Even if it has seven habits, I believe four of them have the most important aspects that will allow you to accomplish what you want. I think one must be proactive, have an end in mind, think win-win and synergize. The secret to the accomplishment of what one most desire is to have a clear image of what one wants in the future, to take the initiative to achieve it, and to work hard while synergizing with others.

When Drowning in Desire

A Shakespearean Sonnet of Macbeth’s Third Act

Suspicious of my dearest friend Macbeth.                          a

I heard the witches say he will be king.                               b

Concerned I know the truth, he planned my death.          a

The end of his ruling my son shall bring.                            b

 

While riding, my son from death ran away,                       c

I wonder when the evilness will end.                                  d

Crazy he became after his betrayal,                                      c

my appearance he would not comprehend.                       d

 

I sat in his seat during the huge feast.                                  e

“The table’s full!” Ha, he was thought insane;                     f

and still the loyal lords can’t see the beast.                          e

Oh! From your ambition you won’t abstain.                        f

 

The murderer sits on a glorious throne.                              g

My loved Scotland, if only we have known!                        g

Macbeth Critique

The greatest English writer in all time once wrote “fair is foul, and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air”. Have you heard this quote before? If you thought William Shakespeare once wrote it in his famous play Macbeth, then I must admit you guessed well. Now, probably you have an idea of what I’m about to write, or perhaps not. I’m not here to tell you that Macbeth dramatizes the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power for its own sake. No way I’m writing about that, that’s way too easy, too boring. No, if you want to know what Macbeth is about then go ahead and read it on your own. But perhaps, before reading it, you may rather read my critique first. That’s right! That’s what I’m doing, I’m writing a critique about one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

I have to admit that I am not liking Macbeth, not at all. I find it way too dramatic and a little boring. However, I do notice the magnificence of Shakespeare. I like that he uses paradox. The witches say “fair is foul and foul is fair”. This motif means that appearances can be deceiving, what seems good is actually evil and that appearances differ from reality. At the beginning of the play King Duncan believes that Macbeth is a loyal person. However, as the story goes on Macbeth betrays Duncan by murdering him in order to be the king. I enjoy the theme, the destruction of oneself when ambition goes unchecked by moral constraints. Macbeth is a courageous and brave warrior. However, after the witches told him a prophecy he became ambitious for power. At first he is dubious for killing King Duncan but at last, dominated by his desire, he murders the king.

Nonetheless I dislike how Macbeth becomes paranoid after killing the king. During the banquet, after knowing that Banquo has been killed, he becomes delusional. He sees the ghost of Banquo and starts talking to him and seems crazy. I dislike how Lady Macbeth behaves. She manipulates her husband in order to convince him to kill the king. I abhor how she calls Macbeth a coward but she is not willing to kill the king with her bare hands.

If you like really dramatic plays, then you will probably love Macbeth. I don’t recommend this play because it is way too boring for me and I don’t like how evil and frightening the characters are. However it’s interesting to read how ambition for power can change a person’s behavior and the consequences that come with it.

Macbeth dramatises how the main character kills the king in order to fulfill his ambition and all the effects that come within. It has an interesting theme and William managed perfectly to portray how a man can change thanks to the great desire for power. However, in my opinion, it is so dramatic and a little boring.

Raphael Sanzio: Renaissance Artist

raphael

Raphael Sanzio was born on April 6, 1483 in Urbino, Italy. He was a painter of the Italian High Renaissance and is considered one of the greatest artists of all time. He learned his first skills in art from his father Giovanni Santi. When he went to Perugia in 1499 he became painter Perugino’s student and assistant. Raphael imitated his master’s painting making it difficult to differentiate which works were made by him. Other person that influenced his work was Leonardo Da Vinci.

Sanzio is best known for his images of Madonnas[1], which were probably influence by Leonardo Da Vinci.  Such paintings are The Madonna of the Goldfinch (1505), Madonna del Prato (1505), and La Belle Jardinière. All of this works show Leonardo’s influence on Raphael; Sazino made use of Da Vinci’s chiaroscuro (contrast between light and dark) and sfumato (use of extremely fine, soft shading instead of line to delineate forms). He was an appreciator of feminine beauty.

In 1508 Raphael was asked by Pope Julius II to paint frescoes[2] in four small rooms of the Vatican Palace. The first room is decorated with scenes of Theology, Philosophy, Poetry, and Justice. Being the most famous composition of the room, The School of Athens represents the concept of philosophy, displaying the greatest thinkers of the Greek world, such as Plato and Aristotle. He uses portraits of his contemporaries in the composition, such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelango. Raphael painted himself in the School of Athens as the viewer from the center of a group of scholars.

Some of Raphael’s final paintings include the Sistine Madonna, which is his last image of the Virgin Mary. Mary treads on clouds and is surrounded by angels. Raphael’s final work of his life is the Transfiguration of Christ and is believed to have been unfinished (it was probably completed by one of his students).  This painting portrays the events of the healing of the boy; in the gospels the possessed boy was brought to the apostles to cure him. They were unable to free him from the demon but the transfigured Christ saved him.

Despite Raphael Sanzio’s short life, he had a tremendous impact on artists. When he was 38 he contracted a fever caused by an insect bite which caused his death on April 6, 1520 in Rome. His funeral was celebrated at the Vatican, his Transfiguration was placed at the head of the bier, and his body was buried in the Pantheon in Rome.

My Favorite Work

The work I like the most from Raphael Sanzio is the School of Athens, which is a depiction of philosophy. I admire how well every human being is painted, with every detail the body has. I like the use of colors Raphael used; I find it appealing to see. I believe including Plato and Aristotle, main Greeks figures, and Leonardo and Michelangelo, Renaissance artists, was an awesome idea; I found it really extraordinary to see such important figures included in the work. Actually, I even think it is stunning that Raphael included himself in the painting.  The structure is so perfectly painted that it becomes breathtaking. It has all details needed to make it seem real and make you feel as if you are in that place. I like how the statues are made, how the roof has some paintings, and how you are able to see the clear sky.

school of athens

Reason I Like This Artist

I personally like Raphael Sanzio a lot; I found his works to be beyond fantastic. His technique is admirable, the way he manages to present every person in a detail way and the contrast of colors is marvelous. In my opinion I think it is incredible that he paints scenes of angels, Christ, and the Virgin Mary. I ought to say that what is most astonishing is the fact that Raphael was so young and yet so talented. He died at an early age (38), making it is easy to wonder what great masterpieces he would had painted if he had lived longer.

The Transfiguration

This painting is divided into two parts: the Miracle of the Possessed Boy on a lower level, and the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor, in the background. Christ is floating above the hills accompanied by Moses and Elijah. On the ground are his disciples, some are in prayer while others are dazzled by the light of glory. What links both parts together is the crowd beholding at the miracle. The boy was brought to be cured by the apostles but they were unable to cure him. The only who saved the possessed boy was Christ. It represents Christ as the savior of man, as the only one who can heal the pain of our lives.

Transfiguration_Raphael

Bibliography

Clinton, L. (2011, November 23). Raphael Paintings and Biography. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from Raphael Paintings and Biography: http://www.raphaelpaintings.org/

Dallas, R. (2014, January 7). Art History. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from Art History: http://www.robinurton.com/history/Renaissance/raphael.htm

Images were used with illustrative purposes only.

 

[1] Italian word for Virgin Mary

[2] Technique of painting in a moist, plaster surface with colors ground up in water or a limewater mixture.

Modern Epic

When Sunset Came

by Isabella Estrada Arimany

 

I open my eyes,

I feel the terror within my people,

I know they are hunting us.

For decades we have been hiding from them,

the Sinfted, humanlike creatures of the night.

Ambitious to have all the power on earth,

they succumbed to darkness in order to steal light.

We, the Gifted, possess all the light in the universe

and is our duty to protect it from evil.

Light bestows each Gifted with a special ability:

Timets control the time,

Midets can reach your mind, reading and manipulating it,

Balets maintain a balance between organisms,

Natets take care of each living creature on earth,

Carrets guide the resting souls to their path,

and Anguardets, the most powerful ones,

have been gifted with the five attributes.

 

Appearing alike to the humans,

the Gifted go unnoticed by these powerless beings.

We breathe, eat, laugh, cry, smile, and sleep,

yet what differences us is our light power.

We live together and interact with them daily

as we develop our task.

Who am I? Which is my so beloved gift?

It’s supposed to be secret, nobody can know.

I’ll reveal my ability just in case I die so my successor,

whoever the light gold bracelet chooses,

has enough information to understand its power.

I am an Anguardet, by name Merlda.

There’s only one Gifted with such attribute,

when he dies light chooses the new Anguardet.

Possessing the five abilities, they must guard light.

The light gold bracelet chose me since I was born.

No Gifted knows for certainty what it can do

but we are sure that it contains light trapped inside.

 

I can sense all the pain, horror;

people are screaming, balance is broken,

time stops, death awaits.

I knew the darkening in my eyes is an omen,

a presage of what is coming. Darkness approaches.

Tired of hiding from the Sinfters,

I found myself running to the woods.

I can sense it, millions of them seeking destruction,

arriving at the forest at night.

Their leader Jeftlow guiding them,

instructing them. Then,

all dark creatures, thirsty for light,

hunt us. I won’t allow my people to die

nor will I let light be under control of darkness.

 

Jeftlow used to be an Anguardet,

the most powerful Gifted that has ever lived.

Ambitious for even more power,

not wanting to protect light but instead control it,

he succumbed to darkness five years ago.

Ever since, I have been the Anguardet,

trying to figure out the way to defeat him.

My biggest enemy yet my doom,

he knows my power and what I can do.

 

The light bracelet chose me;

it traveled a thousand miles to find me,

to select me as the new protector of light.

I was elected by the mere reason of my bravery;

I’m a courageous woman, strong in mind,

persistent, and caring. I want Gifters to survive,

to feel proud of their task

and honored of their light power.

Wanting to prove to myself that light

was not mistaken when choosing me,

I am fighting this battle alone,

showing my valor.

Light against darkness; once and for all

this war must end. Either I win or die

I’m prepared to face evil.

 

Night is approaching, the sun is setting,

the air gets tense. I can smell it: catastrophe.

Disaster nearing; deaths everywhere,

screams and groans from Sinfters.

Terror is inflicted on my people

but I will stop it. Suddenly,

when the clock strikes seven o’clock,

I see human silhouettes in all quarters of the woods.

The Sinfters have arrived. I stare,

searching for my opponent.

 

Jeftlow is at the center of the Giant Forest,

surrounded by enormous sequoia trees.

I turn around, five Sinfters behind me,

ready to attack me. I glare at them,

reaching their mind, they can’t move.

With my light power I lift them to the sky

and throw them against the trees.

They fall to the ground, motionless.

I see Jeftlow and pull him closer to me.

He upholds me and then throws me in the air;

I hit my head with a stone, it hurts.

He gets near and brings his hand close

to the gold bracelet. He never reaches it;

when he tries to touch it,

there is a blast explosion of light.

I see Jeftlow flying in the sky

and then he hits the ground.

Weakened, he remains lying down.

I grab his head with both hands

and break his neck.

At instant his dark eyes stare at me,

light has triumphed over darkness.

 

Elements

Epic Hero: Merlda, an Anguardet.

Quest: Merlda sets as her mission to face the Sinfters and destroy darkness once and for all. She is willing to fight Jeftlow even if she knowns it can be the end of her days.

Valorous deeds: Merlda as a brave and courageous woman decides to face the Sinfters all by herself. She proves her valor while fighting darkness alone, without any Gifted to help her.

Divine Intervention: The Light gold bracelet is protected by God, which is the reason why Jeftlow can’t touch it.

The Seafarer

Translated by Burton Raffel

Part I

The seafarer is a man on a journey in the sea. He often endured days of struggle and troublesome times during his isolation. Sick and cold throughout his time at sea, his feet were cast in icy bands since the frosty water was coming in the boat. He faced hunger and his soul was tired of the sea. Even though he dislikes the sea he gets excited to go back to it. The sea took him into sorrow, fear, and pain. He was miserable on this icy-cold sea, whirled in agony. When the night blackens and the hail starts to fall, all alone he feels scared and in danger. He felt how his soul is drowning and stated that no one could understand him but the ones in exile. He felt grim, sorrow at heart, and was going through many worries in his ship. He made an oath to himself: to never go back to the sea. Though it is a promise he breaks as he keeps on returning to the ocean. He states that there is no man on earth so brave that does not has fear in the sea. He wonders what Fate would bring to him and gets away from the pleasures of this world. The seafarer gives the impression that although his life may be controlled by destiny, he accepts the path that has been chosen for him and understands the power this outside force has, including God’s.

Part II

No matter what we have here in life we won’t take it with us to Heaven. Fate decides when you would die by either three of the following reasons: illness, age, or an enemy’s sword. You are praised and honored by the living when you die. An earthly life reaped with hatred, rancor, and bravery will only bring you earthly praise. If you get to Heaven your life will be eternally blessed as you celebrate with the angels. For the speaker the days were gone once the kingdom’s glory was lost as did the bravery in men. Now the kings are weak and their powers have vanished. You can be praised by people on earth but nothing shakes the wrath of God, if you angered him, if you sinned, not even your wealth would help you. He states that he fears God, who lives humbly in Heaven with angels to carry him courage, strength, and belief. According to his beliefs, God turns the earth, gave life to the world and light to the sky. As one’s code of conduct, we must conquer pride, not kill it, meaning that you ought to be proud of yourself without being arrogant. One has to be firm with his fellows, live in chastity, and treat everyone as they deserve (even if it is with love or hate, but never doing them any harm). The seafarer believes that fate is stronger and God mightier than any man’s mind. According to him, people should turn their thoughts to Heaven, which is their home, and consider their ways of getting there. Then you ought to make an effort to make sure that you will go to Heaven and live in an eternal joy. His relationship to God is one of respect and thankful. He, as many others, fears God. The seafarer praises his grace and believes God is the creator of Earth. Continue reading “The Seafarer”