Long Lost Friend

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Photo by Joseph Cox

By Sabrina Corbin

Day in and day out I feel her drawing me in. Whispering repose in my ear as she asks me to come visit, but I rarely can. The work must get done, but the cunning deception of work is that it’s unending. The daily pressures of my life wear and tear at my entire being. I’m constantly exhausted both physically and emotionally. Everywhere I go, I’m always carrying a load on my shoulders. No matter how large or small the matter may seem my anxiety will make it appear at large. If I am to achieve the serenity I so desperately crave and escape the daily anxieties I endure, I must accept the invitation she whispers to me.  The ocean calls my name, and, ignoring my troubles, I tell her that I’m on my way. The moment I step out of the car and breathe in the air, my attitude changes. The closer I get to the shore, the more my worries get quieter and quieter in my mind. The cloud of troubles that shields my view rolls away with the sunlight pouring in.

Every aspect of the beach is beautiful. The sand is as soft as the light ocean breeze kissing my skin with salt. All the seashells are tiny, artful, masterpieces just waiting to be found, although nothing compares to the ocean itself. The sound of the waves brings about a feeling within my chest that is difficult to explain. Peacefulness, wonder, respect, curiosity, and a hint of danger; all these things well up in my chest. Here I am standing before this momentous body of water that covers ¾ of our planet, and I can’t help but feel such wonder and respect for the incredible nature before me. I can look out to the horizon and, as far as I can see, the ocean is unending.

The water. Almost in a trance, I walk in to my shins. As I go deeper, I feel the water get colder. The drop in temperature sparks a sweet clarity in my mind. The water is at my hips. Before I know it, it’s up to my neck. I realize I shouldn’t go any farther, but the currents are arguing with me and try to pull me out more. It’s almost as if the they’re taunting me as the currents rip around my legs. With each movement, the sweeps prove to me that they’re stronger than I am, and the sea gives me a feeling of revere. These currents could break my balance at any second and pull me out to open ocean, but they don’t. I ignore the currents’ swift pulls and go underwater where the most beautiful part lies: silence. More specifically, a different version of silence lies within the depths. The only things that can be heard are the waves above me and the water around me. My thoughts are void of my troubles, which is unheard of if you have anxiety and know how it works. There are no worries, yet one simple thought remains in me: “peace at last.” It’s such an elegant thing to take a break from sensory overdrive to hear only water If I could, I would stay under the surface for much longer. I don’t know if I’d ever leave the ocean’s depths if I had the option, but my lungs protest. I give in and break the surface while heaving a big gasp. I reach for the sandy floor with my feet, but my head goes under again. The sea has brought me out a little farther than I need to be, and my heart rate quickens in slight fear. I swim back to where I can reach the ocean’s floor and can’t help but get a little annoyed. The ocean is greedy in the way she constantly wants me, and everyone else, to go out farther when she’s well aware we can’t do that. I look out again to the horizon to watch the tops of the waves forming and breaking in constant rhythm. I think to myself, “What’s out there?” Thinking of the ocean’s many secrets ignites a spark of curiosity within me. I don’t think of the dangers, like sharks, rip currents, or jellyfish. I think only of the positive possibilities of what I could find in her depths.

For some unexplained reason, the ocean makes me fearless, and I always want to swim out farther than I know is good for me. I always keep my cautious attitude, but I never want to listen to it when I’m surrounded with liquid courage. At the end of the day, still at peace, I sit on the shore caked in sand. My hair remains a salty mess throughout the day, and I’m loving it. Watching the sun set on the horizon, my eyes are rewarded with a conglomeration of the most beautiful colors that fill the sky and reflect off the water. Sharp reds and oranges guard the sun with soft pinks trying to calm them down. Crisp blues and purples bring up the rear as the moon pushes the sun out of sight over the horizon. However, a feeling of melancholy sweeps over me, as I know what comes next. It’s time for me to leave and return to reality after my day of relaxation. I gather my things, go back to the shoreline, and let the waves touch me to say goodbye for now. Silently, I thank this marvelous piece of nature for taking care of me and helping me relax. I thank her for allowing me to find an escape in a world where it’s next to impossible to breakout. As I drive away, my serenity and repose flicker away as the cloud of worry rolls back into the home it’s found in my mind. “Until next time my friend.”

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Leaving a Legacy

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Photo by Sabrina Corbin

By Sabrina Corbin

Why am I here? What am I doing this for? These questions skip through my thoughts throughout the day. I close my laptop and heave a weary sigh, for these questions are restless and do not let me rest. For tonight, there will be no more studying and no more homework. It’s time to let my mind rest, but will it? In bed, I stare at the ceiling with an exhausted body, yet an active mind. My heart begins to beat faster. I’ve worked so hard today, but is it enough? I think of my unpredictable future, and what I want to do with the time I’ve been given. My heart yearns to help people, to create things that will solve problems for those in need, and to connect with people I never would’ve dreamed of connecting with. I have a craving to travel all over the world and build things that will help someone 100 years into the future. This life I’ve been granted is so short. I could die tomorrow and never have achieved any of the things of which I dream. Will I ever make it there?

“And when my time is up, have I done enough? Will they tell my story?” Eliza Hamilton, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story.”

I see myself with a degree in hand, but I’m running in place. No matter what I do, I can’t move forward. All the colors fade away into black and white. My heart is racing now, it’s harder to catch my breath, but I’m still running. I finally run into a room, and it’s full of mirrors. A giant hourglass appears with sand rushing out so quickly, as if it’s trying to return to the ocean’s floor. I look back into a mirror, but instead of my reflection, I see my tombstone. With a huge gasp, I’m awake. It was a nightmare.

No one can tell what the future holds, but neither can anyone tell me that it’s not terrifying. You may not have these thoughts or worries, but I do believe that you should briefly think on them. What will your life consist of? What will you do with the time you have? What will be the meaning of your life? It’s difficult to apply a definition to the meaning of life. Nonetheless, I think being happy and helping others satisfies that definition, for me anyway. As a college student, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the thought of your future and all the, “What If’s?” ‘What if this doesn’t work out?’ or ‘What if I’m not happy in my career field?’ and so on and so forth. The important thing is that if you’re feeling these things or something similar, that you’re not alone.

The first thing to do is to get a handle on all the restless questions in your mind, because they do nothing to help you. Forget all the, “what if’s.” Just live your life. People will remember those who are kind and happy because they are often jealous of those attributes! Be yourself and you will leave your unique mark on those who come into your life, whether they’re with you for long or not. Forget the unnerving questions, “Why am I here?” or, “What am I doing this for?” These questions only bring anxiety and ruin unto yourself. As I said before, it’s challenging to define the meaning of life, but we are here in this beautiful world to be happy, as well as to use the time and resources we’re given to help those who need us. I find that I ask myself the second question very often, “What am I doing this for?” Here’s how I answer that question: I consider my hopeful future in the biomedical field, and I tell myself, “I am doing this for the people who need to me to succeed.” All the challenges ahead of me are going to be grueling, but worth it because I know I’m going to change someone’s life. Keep in mind, time is the most heartless of all your enemies, and she will not wait for you.

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”

-Leonard Bernstein

Never ever lose your confidence, for you are incredible. One last thing to consider is that one of the sacrifices of leaving a legacy is that you may not see the repercussions of your legacy. You may not see who your legacy has helped or how it has helped, so you simply must believe in what you’re doing. Life takes a lot of faith and belief, rather than hard proof, and, understandably, life is very hard to live. The hard proof will be what you’ve done in your life, your legacy. All in all, your legacy will be what you make it. If you want to help people, as I do, then do it and make it happen. If I’ve learned anything in my two semesters here at UWF, it’s that very few things will fall into your lap. If you want something, then go get it. Dream it and then achieve it, because the world is yours.

“I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable, I am an original.” Aaron Burr, “Wait for It.”

Beethoven and His Greatest Pieces of All Time

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Photo by Sabrina Corbin

By Sabrina Corbin

What makes you happy? What makes the entire world melt away when you’re stressed? What makes you, you? Imagine that the one thing that makes you who you are is tortuously being stripped from your grasp. Suddenly, everything you’ve ever known is gone along with the old version of you. With the feeling of a hole in your chest you realize you must redefine yourself. You must find something else that makes colors brighter and makes the world worth facing, because the weight of the world is on you as you grieve for what you’ve lost. This is what it would be like for me to go deaf as a musician, and I can only imagine Beethoven felt the same. Throughout the centuries, there have been many innovative and famous composers, such as Vivaldi, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. However, by overcoming all his obstacles, I believe Ludwig van Beethoven was the most brilliant and most well-known. Out of his numerous compositions, I believe Symphony No. 9 and Moonlight Sonata were, and continue to be, the most prodigious of all time.

Although many people might assume Beethoven was deaf since his birth, he actually went completely deaf around his mid-forties. Beethoven was taught music at a young age and continued to learn it throughout his life. Young Beethoven was considered a child prodigy when it came to music and performed his first public concert in his hometown of Bonn. At the time of this concert, Beethoven was just seven years old. Beethoven’s entire life up to age seven had been relatively normal for him because he composed, published, and performed music at such a young age that he was used to music in his life. Wowing the people of his time, Beethoven was creating quite the astounding reputation for himself.

Around Beethoven’s early 30s, his hearing began to fade from what we think was a debilitating illness, such as syphilis or typhus. To understand the seriousness of this situation, we must consider that music was all Beethoven had ever known. Beethoven losing his hearing would tear his life apart financially and emotionally, but, impressively, he didn’t let that stop him.

As Beethoven’s hearing declined, higher pitches became difficult and likely painful to hear, so he decided to cut them out all together for a while. This timeline brings us to the first incredible piece: Moonlight Sonata. Like I said before, Beethoven could hardly hear the high notes, hence the consistency of very low notes in this piece. Personally, Moonlight Sonata is one of my favorites for its dramatic staccatos and emotion, staccatos are notes that are played abruptly and shortly. It’s almost as if you can see Beethoven pounding the keys in frustration as you listen. The solemn beginning is portrayed to me as Beethoven’s sadness, because he knows he will not be able to hear for much longer. The usage of many sharps, notes that are raised a half step above their normal pitch, adds a sort of eeriness and emptiness that you can feel in your soul, as I imagine he felt strongly. It should say something to you as a listener when you can feel and see the emotions as you listen to a piece of music. Although Moonlight Sonata practically oozes melancholy, it is beautiful for that reason, and it will never be forgotten, especially by me.

The ideas I’ve presented bring us to the period when Beethoven has lost his hearing completely. Beethoven can now switch back and forth from high and low notes because the high notes no longer hurt him. It’s difficult to explain how one can switch between high and low notes without diving into the fundamentals of music. Basically, Beethoven had an above average knowledge of which notes sound well together (chords), and he had roughly twenty years of experience that helped him learn this knowledge. Therefore, the most likely explanation  is that Beethoven’s genius allowed him to tell the beauty of music without being able to hear it. At this point, we reach Symphony No. 9, which is extremely different from Moonlight Sonata in that it begins quite jubilant and almost victorious feeling. Throughout the entire piece are feelings of happiness and playfulness but, most importantly, more dramatic staccatos. It’s impossible to get disinterested while listening to Symphony No. 9 because of the heavy dynamics in the piece. Beethoven uses some intense crescendos and decrescendos to keep you on your toes and make it hard to guess what will happen next. The symphony is simply the perfect blend of everything that good and exciting music should consist of! Symphony No. 9 begins loud with a perfectly blended middle section, and ends loud just like perfect music should. Music ending loud and being blended well is equally important as authors needing a bang to fulfill the end of a long story. It’s the resolution to any tension created in the first half of the music. Keep in mind, this symphony was all composed while Beethoven was completely deaf! Symphony No. 9 is a truly perfect piece considering his ailments. Proof of Beethoven’s enduring status was shown to me loudly this past summer when I went to a Drum Corps International (DCI) competition in Georgia, a marching band competition consisting of only brass instruments. My favorite corps is Carolina Crown, and, lo and behold, the first piece of their show was the beginning of Symphony No. 9 which they played flawlessly. After 245 years, Beethoven’s music is still with us prominently.

Beethoven proved his worth throughout his successful life by doing what I believe no other person on this planet could ever do: continue his musical career while deaf. Beethoven’s two pieces, Moonlight Sonata and Symphony No. 9, will be forever remembered by his noticeable traits, like his flair for the dramatic and intense emotion that can be felt by any who listen to his works. Throughout my life, no matter what my career may be, I plan and hope to also have a successful music career on the side. Beethoven serves as a huge inspiration to me, proving that when roadblocks are thrown in your way you should never give up on your dream. Yes, it’s cliché, but it will never not be truthful. Find your passion, as I have found music. Find what makes you, you, and makes your world worth facing. Chase that passion, and cling to it for dear life, because someone or something will always be there to try to take it away from you.