Margaret Laurence describes sights, sounds, smells, activities and feelings that helped her develop "The sight of my own particular eyes." Describe an experience or a place that helped you develop a different way of looking at things.
A Lesson about Sports
As a high school student, I hated sports. It angered me to see the basketball and football players getting all the attention. I was totally jealous of the cheerleaders because I was an uncoordinated fat girl. To me, sports did nothing but celebrate jocks and acrobatic girls at the expense of everybody else.
After I graduated from high school, I began to do lots of volunteer work so that I could be accepted into a physical therapy program. That February I began working at the Presbyterian Home in Ashtabula. My job was to read the newspaper to Jack, an elderly man with an amputated leg and extremely poor eyesight. He was polite, but didn't say much and when he looked at you his eyes were empty, as if he didn't see a thing. He didn't have family around, and the coordinator thought he needed some stimulation.
I read the newspaper to him five days a week from 4:00 to 4:30. He always said "good afternoon" when I arrived and "thank you" when I left. Beyond that, he hardly said a word. He never commented on what I was reading, didn't even seem to hear me. He just slumped and looked vacantly out the small window of his room onto the parking lot.
One April day he said, "Do you like baseball?" It was a strange question considering that he had never asked me how old I was or where I went to school or what I wanted to do in life. I suspect he didn't even remember my name.
"I don't know much about it," I said evasively.
"Tomorrow you won't have to read."
On my way out, I told the coordinator what he said, but she told me to show up the next day as usual.
When I walked in, Jack was lying face up on his bed with the radio on. It was the first day of baseball season, and the Cleveland Indians were playing the Oakland Athletics in Oakland. The game was just starting as I arrived.
He said "good afternoon" as usual and nodded towards my seat. Then he just stared at the ceiling. Those thirty minutes turned out to be more interesting than I would have imagined. As the announcers chatted about the season's prospects and described each play of the game, Jack's face was totally concentrated. His eyes were so intent that he seemed to be seeing the action on the ceiling.
After thirty minutes, I told Jack goodbye during a commercial break. He just said "Thank you," as if I had done something for him. It was the same thing the next day. The third day, he was listening to the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. This game was in Chicago, so it was the 8th inning when I arrived. Jack was lying on his bed staring at the ceiling and didn't even notice when I entered. I sat down and watched him. He was perfectly capable of talking, but never said anything--never commented on the action, expressed a preference for one team or the other or an opinion about the announcers. At critical moments of the game, he would breathe a little harder--or perhaps hold his breath for a instant, but otherwise he showed no emotion.
Most days after that there was a game on. In addition to Cleveland and Chicago, he could pick up Cinncinati, Detroit and Pittsburgh. The reception wasn't always very good, but he didn't seem to care. On days without a game, he sat slumped in chair, looking out the window and listening to me read the paper.
I left at the end of May. When I told him on my last day, he looked up and said "Thank you." Nothing more.
All of that was two years ago. I've thought a lot about Jack since then, and he has caused me to soften my opinion toward sports. Poor Jack didn't have much of a life left, but baseball games on the radio focused his day and stimulated his imagination. The longer I think about it, the more amazed I am that he knew when the games were on and which station. How he got his radio tuned is a mystery to me, but he always did. The games themselves liberated him, lifted him from out of his room and took him to a place where green grass grew, where the wind hit his cheeks, where he could run and jump and slide and be a boy again. Though I have never listened to a baseball game since then, at the time I occasionally found myself drifting with Jack out of that room and into that better place.
Even though I'm still not a sports fan and will never be, I respect sports more than I did before I knew Jack.When evaluating a paper, it's often good to look at the first sentence. Does it tell you something you don't know? Does it provide something to build on? Is it crisp and concise? This paper has a good opening.
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