Zachary Lopez

Tbt who was i 16 years ago

The realest throwback Thursday.

So I ran across an old essay that I wrote in high school. It was for an Atheism and Faith class. I’m not sure what the prompt was exactly, but something about life and beliefs and who I was. The following was originally written on May 4, 1999. Fun to see who I was and reflect on who I am now. Crazy…

Anyhow, reprinting this as written, mistakes in grammar and spelling as they are. Just capturing that moment.

Philosophy of Life

Life is hard to define. Life can be fun and exciting. Life can be boring and mundane. Life is short. Life is change. Life is adapting to change. Change is the only constant because life is short. Life is painful. Life hurts. Life is wonderful. Life is beautiful. Life is astounding. Life is every adjective one can think of. Life is many different things to many different people.

My life is hard to define. From different points in my life any singular event can be viewed in a vast array of ways. My life is strange because I do not reawlly base my life on memories or the past. Any event that happened to me yesterday truly has no bvearing on the person I am today. It does, but not in the way it would affect most people. For insancce, I could not tell you what I said in the first paragraph of this essay without looking up to the top of the page. I have a difficult time trying to remember the specifics of my life. I can recall random events that changed me, but it takes effort. Fro these reasons this paper will be difficult and random at times.

I am whom I feel like being at any given moment. I have control over my actions and how I present myself. There are times when I am angry and will lash out at people. There are also times that I am angry but will instead bury my emotions and go silent. There are times when I am comfortable and will be open and expressive. There are times when I am uncomfortable and will be quiet and reserved. Then there are most times. Most times I feel indifferent towards events, situations, and people. I do not react, I do not respond, I do not seem interested. I am defined by my moods.

I think that most people think of me as shy and quiet. I would tend to agree with these people because that is how I generally am. I am queit when I have nothing to say. I am queit when I am uncomfortable. I am quiet when I am tired. I am quiet when I am well rested. I am quiet when I feel good. I am quiet when I feel bad. I am quiet when I am happy. I am quiet when I am sad. I am quiet when I am upset. I am quiet when I am content. I am quiet most of the time, but most of the time I am quiet when I think.

I like to think of myself as more contemplative than actually quiet. As I said before I am most quiet when I think. I think a lot. I think about a lot of random things. In conversation, I will think of what to say and go silent. If I have nothing to say I will say nothing. Many may take offense but that is just who I am.

When I am bored, I do some of my more interesting thinking. It is scary to admit, but in boring classes I have wondered what would happen if I shot everyone in the room like at Columbine. Now do not think that I would actually do this, because I would not. I do not like attention and I just would not have the guts to pull it off. I have just often wondered waht people’s reactions would be. I wonder who would step up and try to be a hero. I wonder what kind of pain would be expressed on people’s faces just before I shot them. I also wonder what kind of pain I would have to be in to do it.

I think that most people when they read the previous paragraph would think of me as sick or in danger of commiting such an act. For those that think so, I would like to laugh in their faces. They would not have understood me if they believed I would do that. I believe that thinking things through is the only way to truly recognize problems in my life. When I thought of that scenario it did scare me, but it also made me feel good. I felt good because I realized that I could not and would not do something like that. For thinking is like a test. I can imagine myself committing the most malicious crime easily, but if it does not trigger a feeling of desire, then I know I wont do it. It is more of a self-administered mental health check.

I think that the imagination is a powerful thing. I use it for many different things. I use it to check my head. I use it to occupy my time. I use it to entertain myself. I have often said before that if I was ever put in jail that I would prefer solitatry confinement to the general population. One big reason for this is that I am not strong enough or big enough to defend myself in prison. The other is that I feel a natural inclination towards being alone. I have always maintained the belief that I could handle solitary confinement mentally. I believe that I am to a point in my own mental development that my mind in a dark room is enough. I have seen movies where people go crazy in solitary. I will admit that the lack of mental stimulation could be a problem, but I think my mind could handle it.

I am a contradiction. People, myself included, have and will perceive me as a loner. At the same time, however, if you ask the right people they will say that I am not. I do not know whether or not I am for sure. When I am with my friends I can be both the talkative person and the quiet person at different times. As I said before it stems from not having much to say or not wanting to say much. I attribute this to insulation. My parents have sheltered me throughout my early life and I think that it is the root of silence. Maybe it is more that I do not like to tak to people that I do not know. Again it is comfort. At lunch I do not really talk much. I speak more openly then before but I know the people I eat with more. I did not speak at all at lunch before. I sat with poeple I knew and they knew me, but I just did not have anything to say.

My life is hard to define. My most defining quality is my aforementioned silence/contemplation. Other qualities in me are less obvious. I am distant in mood and facial expression. I ahve been told that I always look sad or upset. I have been told that I never look happy. I think that my level of happiness is very indicative of who I am. I am generally very content and thus I am relaxed. My relaxed facial expression lends itself to being interpreted as many things including boredom, sadness, anger, sleepiness, etc. I am one of those people who just do not look happy. I do not and that is just the way it is. I do not feel that it is very necessary for me to purposely change my outward appearance to please others. I will not put on a fake smail so others will believe I am happy. I look distant and that is fine with me.

Another quality I have is extreme laziness. Many people will attest to that statement. I ahve a tremendous aversion towards work and doing it when I should. It is almost a game that I play with myself. I try to see how long I can put off any assignment and then see how fast I can get it done. For papers like this one that are a required ten pages in length, I usually wait until the day before the due date and write it instead of sleeping for that night. True to form this paper is currently being written on the night of May 3, 1999. For a little more evidence of my lazy ways, I still have to do a Honors Chemistry problem set, do some work in Economics that I just cannot seem to remember, write a movie script for Literature and Film, and read The Color Purple. See how productive I ahve been over this three-day weekend. My laziness also provides me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. It feels really good to finish a term paper overnight. It feels good to have read Crime and Punishment in less than six hours. It also shows me what I can accomplish in such little time, which in turn makes me that much more lazy the next time around. It is truly a vicious cylce. Laziness feeds on itself. I would not recommend my approach to work to most people. It is not recommended for people with high blood pressure or stress management problems. Nevertheless, I actually find my approach to be quite cathartic. Also, it has showed me how my body clock reacgts to these situations. I have found that between 12 am and 2 am there is a dead period in my production and a strong desire to sleep (also a propensity to fall asleep even when I do not wish to). Just after 2 there is a second wind. I peak between 2 and 4 am and then quality of my work slows until around 6 or 7 am when it is time to get ready to go to school.

My laziness has also brought out my determination. When I am determined to do something it will get done. Here’s the catch, however i have to be interested in order to actually do it. Certain things will be put off to the last second, but if I have a desire to do it, I will.

Strangely, I am proud of my laziness. I love the fact that I can put things off so much and still get good grades, while others have to work extremely hard to get by. I do feel sorry for those people, but I love the fact that I can do so little and do so well. Now this might be an indication for others to put extra effort into things and strive for perfection. I can see how I could do a lot better if I actually tried, but I really don’t want to. I am not a fan of perfection. I think that perfection is highly overrated and highly unattainable. There is saying that states that there is always someone who is better at something than you are. I believe in that so I am not going to put forth extra effort just to be shown up. I would rather have someone else come up to me and say they got an A and say that I got a B, but I wrote the paper in one night. It is like in boxing, the term pound-for-pound champion indicates skill per pound. Thus it is used to compare the skill of people in different weight classes. I think of work in that manner. That extra grad is not worth all the extra work it would take to get it. I operate at maximum efficiency. I get the best grad I can in the least amount of time. I get the maximum output for the minimum input.

I think that I have changed a litte, but change is relative. It is hard for me to say though because I live more day-to-day than year-to-year or month-to-month. I tis is hard to see changes overnight. That is really all I look at. My memory is not so good, so long-term recall is difficult. My memories are kind of mashed together in a swirl of varying thoughts. My memories are almost sorted in a way. Most things that are unimportant like how I felt a certain day two years ago have vanished or fallen into the deepest recesses of my brain, i.e. my unconscious self. Anything that was not attached to a major event is lost to me. Now even teh major events are hard to recall. For instance, when I did the timeline I neglected to include the death of my grandfather. That was a big moment for my entire family, but when I made my timeline I couldn’t remember it. Only later did realize that I had left it off. Maybe my brain is purposely blocking painful experiences. I think, however, that I have changed some, not a lot. I am still, for the most part anyway, the same person I was yesterday, last week, last month, last year… I think I may have reached a plateau in my personal growth. For a couple of years now, I have been the same. Maybe it will take a traumatic experience to truly change me. Right now I am content with who I am.

Truthfully, I don’t think that anyone truly knows me. People know who I let them see. I have not opened myself up to anyone, not even my family. The strange thing is I don’t really know myself either. I don’t think that I ahve ever let myself into the deepest parts of me. This is probably my most major flaw or at least others would see it as a flaw. I don’t really mind because ignorance is bliss. I think that I lack the experience to know myself. I believe that going away to college can and will change all of that. Currently though, I am fine with just being a shadow of who I am.

No one knows me because I am so rooted in self. I think that a lot of people could not handle being unknown to anyone. Some people would go crazy if people didn’t know who they are. I think that a lot of people need others for recognition and self-fulfillment. I am not one of those people. I am stable enough mentally to be unknown to the world and unknown to myself. Sure it is scary to think that no one knows me, but I am fine with it. In fact I think I like that. It leaves me in a state of unpredictability. I don’t know who I will be in the future, but I am also not limited to a mold that I want to or do fit into. I believe that to define is to limit. So maybe subconsciously I am keeping myself in a state of being aware so as to allow my true self to sep forth when the time comes.

My parents don’t know me. My parents do not know me. I don’t allow them to. I think in a way that is their fault. They kept me sheltered thought my life to the point that I am the way I am today. I was incredibly quiet all through grade school until the sixth grade. Then I opened up because I ahd known those people for so long. Two short years later the cycle began again with high school. I don’t say that I love my parents. I think think that I have said that to them since I as 11. It is is just not in my nature to express my feelings as a result of my upbringing. In certain ways I blame my parents for the way I am today. They didn’t let me do the things that I wanted to do. They talked me out of certain sports and they were always overprotective. I think it is their overprotectiveness that has confined me to the shell that I reside in today. I hate them for it. I wish I was more open. I guess I wish I was more like everone else. I hate myself. I hate myself for wanting to conform.

The best years of my life were when I was unaware that I was unaware. From when I can remember to age 12 life was bliss. Ignorance is bliss. Ignorance was bliss. I didn’t have a care in the world. I just didn’t know any better. The innocence of youth is a truly wonderful thing. I could do know wrong because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know what wrong was. I couldn’t be blamed. I had no responsibility, so I just did things the way I wanted.

Society changes people. Society steals innocence in exchange for responsibility, worry, and stress. It is hard to find the kind of happiness I had as a child in my present. Life becomes hard when people gain knowledge. Knowledge changes everything. Society would have no influence on people if people didn’t have the knowledge of society.

My life does not satisfy me. I feel as though I am wasting time. College in my opinion will change that. College is where I will be able to learn things that I want. I believe that high school is pretty pointless since I already know what it is I want to learn and do. Because I already know these things, anything that is not directly moving more towards that goal seems like a waste of my time and energy. Now for instance, I am pttuing in even less effort than ever before in school. All I want is a C or better in each class so that I can get into college.

I spend a majority of my free time asleep. I tend to lose sleep a lot because of my previously mentioned laziness. I put things off for so long that I lose any normal semblance of a sleeping pattern. I make up for this with big chunks of sleep, usually 12 hours long, to make up for my lack of sleep. For example it is currently 4:36 am on May 4, 1999, the due date of this paper. I have been awake since 8 am May 3, 1999 and will not sleep until 1 am on May 5. That will be forty-one hours straight. Not my longest period of no sleep but fpretty long considering I won’t be able to make up the sleep until the weekend.

I do like quiet time for reasons mentioned before. My two favorite quiet times both center around the subject of the previous paragraph. In my room it is pitch black no matter what time of day. Just before I go to sleep I do my best thinking. There are times when this thinking is too good and interferes with my sleep. My other favorite time is right after I wake up. It is when I am half-awake and half-asleep. In this state, I can still dream, but I can also control my dreams to some extent. I can wake up and remember not finishing a dream, then think about it and end up finishing it anyway. Right before and right after sleep are my favority quiet times.

My favorite alone time is also in my room. I turn off the lights, lay on my bed, and just think. I do this a few times a week to varying extents. Sometimes it is as short as ten minutes. Other times it can be as long as a few hours. Whatever the case may be it is always refreshing and relaxing for me. I love that time and wouldn’t give it up for anything.

I value my atheism. It was the very first real choice that I made about something that mattered. I like the fact that I know that I believe in atheism. I like the fact that I have something to defend, something to stand on. I have duty to that decision. Its relevance and importance rest on my defense of that choice.

For the aforementioned reasons I feel that I must say that I dislike Atheism and Faith. I feel betrayed by the name of the course. Atheism and Faith is a misnomer. This class has been more about faith and theoretical time and space than anything else. This couse includes nothing on atheism. Things like the Answer to Job only ask if god could really be this way or that way. Or the subject matter is that god has to be good and evil. Or the subject matter was something like that. Never do I remember 1 point in this course in which atheism was discussed. We never took out a text that gave off reasons why there was no god. All we did was examine the different possibilities of god. The only diffference between this religion class and others is that you say “if you believe” some times. For examples, in the philosophy of life guideline sheet number one, I am asked about my relationship with God. It assumes that I believe when this is an Atheism and Faith course. Especially because of the couse title these questions should be about a person’s choice of religion and not about your God. What if I believed in Allah or some other god? You used the capital form God that denotes the Christian god. In a course that is supposed to compare atheism to different faiths, your questions should include the possibility of different or no gods. It should not assume God only. I don’t like this course at all. I feel cheated and I think that you should change the course title to just Faith or even more accurately Christian Faith.

Success and failure are different for me than the standard definitions. Success to me is anytime that I accomplish anything that I wanted. Whether it is writing this paper in one night or reading a magazine. Failure is only failure when I actually try or want to do something. Like if I did badly on a test, but I didn’t try very hard, then I didn’t fail. I was just lazy. If I studied for weeks and then did poorly I would consider that a failure. I believe that if I set my mind to something I will be successful no matter what.

In 10 to 15 years, I will measure happiness just as I do now. It can’t be measured it’s just a feeling. So I hope that in 15 years I feel as good about myself as I do now. Then I will be happy.

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