Who Wants a Healthier Life?
By David A. Alpert
I sat in my Algebra Two classroom as my teacher waxed poetic about next year’s course options and the rest of our lives. “Some of you aren’t cut out for calculus next year. That’s ok. I didn’t take calculus until college, and look how I turned out.”
My mind began to wander. I thought about how I aspired to move back onto the honors track, aspirations that were partly instilled in me by my parents.
“You might want to go to a great college. Your parents might want you to go to a great college.” I snapped to attention.
“But you can go to a good college.” he continued, emphasizing good. “You can do well there and have a better life. You can have a healthier life.”
Who among us wants that healthier life? The sophomores and juniors turned in their schedules for next year, a few weeks ago after careful analysis of the curriculum guide. Most students ambitiously piled on as many AP and honors classes as (super)humanly possible.
I am guilty of the same charge. Next year, I will take higher level classes in subjects that barely interest me.
We are told from our first days at Harvard- Westlake to expect big things of ourselves. We are taught to stretch ourselves to a previously unheard of limit, break through that limit, and set a new one. This way of thought brings to mind the school motto. Possunt quia posse videntur. They can because they think they can.
Even as I was filling out my schedule, with both school motto and future firmly planted in mind, I could not push my math teacher’s words out of my head. A healthier life. The challenges that lie in our future, next year and beyond. There must be some balance between stressful, late-night lab reports and the completely unperturbed mind. Can there not be some sort of promised land where the two can co-exist?
As I reflected more on my math teacher’s advice, I thought back to a dinner table conversation I had had with my parents a few nights previous. They had won an all-expense-paid trip for two to Australia at a dinner party raffle, earlier that month. However, the trip would be centered on cattle ranching, something that did not appeal to my mother.
I sensed an opportunity and jumped at it, offering to take my mother’s place. I may not be the most rugged outdoorsman, but I thought it would make for an interesting experience, and a great chance to see Australia.
As more details filtered out, it was revealed that the trip was to be taken next May. Immediately my excitement dissipated. I knew I could not go. May 2007 would also be when my first AP exams would be held, and valuable time for early finals studying. I remarked to my parents how unhealthy it seemed to me that after being presented with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, my mind quickly jumped to the tests that did away with the chance.
Instead of experiencing life on the free and open range, and spending my days equipped with a horse and lasso as I simultaneously racked up bruises and experience, I will spend next May locked in my room equipped with textbooks and a number two pencil. Considering the path I’m choosing, I lack the authority to give any advice on the issue, but I feel I must anyways. While the guy next to you is daydreaming about which Pre-Calculus course to take, dare to be the one who daydreams about rough Australian cattle and the cuts and bruises they induced. After all, isn’t the occasional cut healthier in the long run?