Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Your Transcendental Experience

For our Transcendentalist mini-project, I asked you to choose from several project options to explore the extent to which you're Transcendental or, perhaps, to cultivate your quiet, or even absent, but inner Transcendentalist.

Refer back to those questions that correlate with your project option or, if you chose an alternative project of your own creation, refer back to that handout to inspire your reflection, describing your experience and reflecting on it in a post below.

In addition to posting your own thinking, read your classmates' responses, thinking about them as the text you're reading in preparation for class tomorrow.  We will, then, wrap up our study of Transcendentalism by discussing our experiences and those of our classmates and how they helped us understand, or perhaps challenged our understanding, of this movement.

28 comments:

  1. For my transcendental experience, I chose to give up the TV for five days. TV for me is the biggest hindrance in completing my homework and I felt that if ever there was something unnecessary in my life that I could give up and improve my life by doing so, it would be television. I did cheat once; I watched one show on hulu, but that was on my computer so it wasn’t really cheating…technically. What this little slip says about me, I believe, is that my self-control is lacking some, and that this is due to my dependence on TV for relaxing/taking a break. My family supported me in this decision, but I can’t help but think if I had chosen to give up my phone instead, that they would’ve been irritated (since they couldn’t have gotten ahold of me.) And that they weren’t irritated that I gave up TV proved to me that TV truly is not a necessity.
    With giving up television, I opened up several hours of my day and as a result I added at least an hour of sleep a night during the 5 days. Though this definitely improved my academic life, I don’t think I could ever give it up entirely. TV really is a means of relaxing in my crazy life, but it really isn’t a productive one, nor is it beneficial (at least watching the shows that I do.) I decided to give up the TV to see how if I could use my free time better, like reading, but as it turns out I just redirected my laziness into other activities like playing twenty rounds of solitaire in a row. Despite this, the experiment as a whole was good for me since it showed me that I can get along without TV, and that my life is actually better without it. I hope to limit my time watching it in the future.

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  2. “What lies behind us and what lies ahead us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us”-Henry David Thoreau

    In order to bring out the inner Transcendentalist in me I decided that I would give up all the technology on me for one day. This exercise in Transcendentalism occurred last Saturday. First I had to set a few ground rules, rule one: I would give up my computer, iPhone, iPad, and all the little extra things that entailed (apps, internet, etc). Rule two: my parents would have these items until the 24 hours had gone by. Rule three: I, under no circumstances, could access these things, unless it was an absolute emergency. Finally, rule four: my parents had the final say on what was an emergency and what wasn't because needing to update Twitter or know the status of my star fantasy running back is not an absolute emergency. With these ground rules set I went on my quest to exercise my inner Transcendentalist.

    I decided to give up these items because I use them so frequently. I am constantly on Twitter, as some of my friends can attest, and it’s developed to a point where I check it more frequently than I do my texts messages or emails. I also use these items to mange my fantasy football team. I felt it would be healthy if I stopped, for one day, checking the status of my star wide receiver because there are more important things in the world than worrying about how the Purple People Eaters’ (my team’s name) starting line up will stack up against my opponent on Sunday. I am always tuned into what is going on in the world and part of being a Transcendentalist is tuning out the world. Naturally these items, that keep me updated on what is going on in the world, were the ideal thing to ostracize for one day.

    After one hour of not having these things at my disposal I was going into withdrawal. Looking back, it was the feeling of being unconnected from the world that sent me into withdrawal. I have been living in the “Connected Era” for most of my life and having that connectivity, which I took for granted, taken away from me had me feeling like I was six years old and just lost my security blanket. My parents, when I had initially told them, thought I was off my rocker. The first words out of my dad’s mouth were: “How will we beat the DeFabios (my cousins) in fantasy football then?” After explaining to him my plan and that I would be able to set my team on Sunday as this would be a Saturday only activity, he calmed down. Besides that my parents were all for it because in their generation it was more convenient not to be connected rather than be connected. In hindsight it made my life easier because I was free of having to worry about the status of my injured player or what was going on in the “Twitterverse”. I was able to live life free of worry. This experience gave me a glimpse into how technology affected people’s manners. For example, people tend to tune people out when they are doing something on their respective device; making it very hard to get their attention let alone, sustain a conversation with them. I was able to take a step back and ponder: I am that way when I am my phone? Going forward I will try to limit myself when it comes to technology. The key to life is moderation and if I want to live a balanced life, I will need to moderate my connectivity. I need to strive not be the guy who tunes people out or the guy who regrets not going to dinner with his family because he had to fix his computer. Life is too short to spend it fixing a computer or waiting for an app to download. Life is about cultivating your inner self and enriching one’s soul. That is what I think the Transcendentalists were trying to convey to us in their writings.

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  3. As most of you know, I engaged in an act of civil disobedience (in reflection it was really only stupidity and disobedience), but I also chose to reflect through solitude.

    To start off, my charades in class weren’t for naught; I learned quite a lot about myself within the forty-five or so minutes of absence. As we were diving into what it truly means to be self-reliant, and civilly disobedient, I felt compelled to fight against my natural instincts (these instincts referring to strict adherence to all rules, understood or not). Originally justifying these actions as it was morally wrong that I should be confined to learn within a small room, I truly set out to be a rebel, and do what all of you chickens was too scared to. I quickly came to a realization that I was being an idiot, but I carried through with my original intentions anyways. I immediately regretted my decision, and came to the conclusion that, unlike Thoreau, I am in no way a Transcendentalist by means of civil disobedience; I simply can’t stand the feeling of doing something, and justifying it purely through moral principle. To me, moral principle is the act of being anything but civilly disobedient. I did learn one thing; tell your teacher what you’re planning before you do it- it will help avoid unnecessary heart attacks.

    Now, here comes an act of true Transcendentalism. Swamped with finals prep, I decided it would be the perfect time to find solitude (give me credit; it took a LOT of willpower to step away from everything for a few hours). In all seriousness, I went for a walk. While it’s not camping out (I don’t know if you realized, it’s sort of cold out), it gave me great insight. The most meaningful expression of Transcendentalism, to me, is being your own person. It’s important, because in the end, the one thing that you are guaranteed are your thoughts. If your own consciousness is stable, nothing can deter you from being the person that you wish to be. Without independent thought, you can be swayed to believe anything. And I mean anything. Honestly, I do not trust myself. And if I have learned anything about this practice, is that being independent, and self-reliant, can only be achieved if you first trust yourself. That is my first item to work on. After reflecting I see the importance of trusting yourself, because once you do, you start to feel confident in your abilities, as well as others’. The only impact that I want to make in this life, is to be someone everyone can trust to do the right thing, at all times. I’m not there yet, or even close. But I am starting to realize that this is what I need to do to accomplish that goal. And I will do it. The importance of love is what truly matters to me. Without it, there is nothing more than words coming from someone’s mouth. And I don’t appreciate the pure grace that it takes to acknowledge the importance of love. But it is something to strive for, through focus, and gratitude. I think that’s what the Transcendentalists were trying to say. That in order to make the impact you want to make, no one will do it for you, and you can reach that goal by trusting yourself and acknowledging the success and beauty already given to you.

    Giving myself time to think, away from the bombardment of exterior thoughts that usually cloud my inner feelings, let me discover the importance of oneself. I think the Transcendentalists were extreme in some views, but they definitely reminded me that its the little things, that truly matter.

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  4. For my transcendentalism project, I sat outside my house on a wooden swing to reflect on what matters to me. The first thing that came to mind was my desire to be an individual. Being an individuality matters to me because I see so many people get caught up in what the crowd aka "cool people" are doing, and by doing so waste so many life experiences. They define themselves as purely mainstream... which in turn announces the demise of their creative and unique self. I pity them. I have been raised to be an individual and to act upon what I think. Seeing people who don't share this ideal saddens me.
    I am able to apply this to my everyday life by being the weird, crazy person I am. People don't know what "box" to put me in other than the "Ruthie" one.... and I am proud to say I am the sole occupant of that space. I want to encourage people to be comfortable with who they are. To not pretend that they are something or someone different than who they are. It's a waste of time and of their life. Why be someone else when you can be you? You are pretty darn special! I will admit, despite my previous rantings, sometimes I do allow the "mainstream" ideals to affect me. Second guessing myself, thinking about what others think of me...silly things like that! I wan when people see me, to see a self-assured, confidant, and free spirited young woman. In actually, I think people see me as a silly, child-like person that is of no consequence and is as deep as a creek. I want to show them how deep and thoughtful I can be. It's a struggle in me. I want to be cheerful and happy but want to be taken seriously. I want to give wise advice to those who ask, but don't want to wallow in the world's troubles. I enjoy being snarky with my family and close friends, but don't want to hurt people with my quick wit. I enjoy getting laughs from my jokes, but don't want that to define me, me being an attention hog. I want to shine God's light to all around me, but I fear being too outspoken and losing friendships. Indeed, I have a long way to go to being the aforementioned free spirit. Trying to find the balance between all theses things keeps my thoughts busy... now add in school, family, friends, schedules, and all the other chaotic things in my life. You can probably guess how my priorities shuffle out. Perhaps allotting time for peace and quiet during my day will help me refocus on the important things, not the silly day to day dramas. During my transcendental experience, I had time to breath deep and refocus, making the time spent worthwhile.

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  5. For my transcendentalist experience I decided to go throughout an entire day (sunrise to sunset) without using TV, cell phone, computer or videogames. I use each and every one of these items at least once every day and I would estimate that I spend at least three hours a day on these possessions. As long as I can remember I have never gone a day without using any of these gadgets at least once. Going an entire day without these possessions would definitely be a challenge since I have become so reliant on these objects. I performed this task on Saturday, December 8. I told my parents about what I was doing so they decided to help me out by giving me a list of chores to do for the day so I wasn’t bored. Once I finished my chores I had the pleasure of helping my dad set up this Christmas lights at our house. After hours of working the sun was still in the sky and I had nothing else to do. I was tempted to join my sister and watch some TV but there was only an hour left of daylight so I decided to read a book. Once the sun finally set and darkness overwhelmed my house I was free of being a caveman. I immediately went to multitasking by watching TV and being on my cell-phone. It was a long and hard day but at the end of the day I was proud of myself for not giving in once and being able to look at my house with the Christmas lights on and knowing that I was a part of that. I think with me not giving in it shows that I am the kind of person who finishes something and doesn’t quit. It’s what I’ve been taught all my life to never quit and now after this experience I have realized that I have become this teaching. My family thought it was an interesting and unique project that I was going to take on. They were very supportive by making sure I had something to do so I wouldn’t be tempted, except for my sister who kept showing off all the technology she was using that day. These possessions I gave up are not necessities for survival but they definitely make my life easier. Especially growing up in this generation, not having these items can be a pain. I do not think I will continue to limit my use of these items because in just one day I was struggling with not using these items and I can’t imagine an entire year or more without these items. Through this experience I have learned that all these items are just a distraction. I like to be occupied with something and if I can replace my phone and TV with something else then I would be able to live life without these items. I have yet to find something to overcome these possessions and I doubt I ever will with the rapidly increasing production of these objects. Overall, after experiencing the way of the transcendentalists I’m perfectly fine living the way I’m living and don’t feel the need to give up these possessions again.

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  7. "Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt."
    -Jon Krakauer, from "Into the Wild"

    In order to bring out my inner transcendentalist I decided to throughout one day (24 hours, from midnight to midnight) without saying a word. I'll admit that I like to talk so I thought that this would help me separate myself from others, to perform an act of civil disobedience.

    Like Michael said above, I had a few ground rules. The first rule was that I could not talk to anyone, not even my parents, unless it was an emergency. My second rule was that I could use technology but I could not communicate with anyone (such as using Facebook or texting). My third rule was that I had to read at least an hour that day. I chose to read from the copy of "Into the Wild" I have. The last rule was that, besides meals, I would stay in my room the entire day.

    The day was strange. I went downstairs for breakfast in the morning and had to sit silently while my parents talked with each other. I had the urge to say something, but I did not. This made me realize that we do not really think about talking, it is just natural to us. It was strange how tempted I was to talk, it was like I was dying of thirst and was sitting next to a glass of lemonade. I went upstairs but did not go straight to reading. Instead, I listened to records I have (yes, I have a record player) which was a lot of fun. There was a moment where I realized that I wasn't being judged and began to dance around my room to the music. I'm not the best dancer in the world, so normally I would have felt very embarrassed by this, but for some reason it felt reasonable while I was in my room. I went from listening to Elton John to John Coltrane, from Simon and Garfunkel to The Beatles. When listening it wasn't only the rhythm that stuck out to me, but the lyrics. Paul Simon is a great lyricist and I began to understand some of his lyrics. He talks about getting old in "Leaves That Are Green", which really left a mark on me. "In My Life" by The Beatles also had very personal lyrics, and this was the first time I had felt like I really listened to that song. I read "Into the Wild" and felt like I completely understood the message of the novel. I got (to an extent) what Christoper McCandless stood for.

    No words can describe how it feels to be a mute. I thought a lot, and by the time I went to bed my mind was still in overdrive. I learned a lot about myself, music, and books that day. I need to think about what I say before I say it and sometimes it is okay to be silent. You will learn a lot. I wouldn't mind doing the same thing again some day, like I did that day. And that day was a day well spent.

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  8. For many of you, my transcendentalist project probably sounds stupid. But for me, it was very, very hard. For the past two weeks I have given up everything that is related to One Direction. That meant no music, no magazines, no Twitter, no Tumblr, no talking to my friends about it and no watching their appearances on different TV shows. One Direction is a main part of my life. Yes, I understand that I might not ever meet them, nor do I plan my life around them. But I do find myself constantly thinking about them, looking up information about them when I should be doing my homework, and they are the only things that my friends and I talk about. Before Mrs. Lee introduced this project to us, I was thinking about taking a break from all things One Direction or at least trying to control the amount of time I spend thinking about them. I found myself listening to my friends and I talking during lunch, and we didn't talk about anything besides them. I came to realize that I wanted to talk about my friends' lives and real things, not some boy band. This was my reasoning behind picking to give up One Direction.

    During the last two weeks, I have somewhat successfully given up all things One Direction. I didn't check Twitter, Tumblr, or other magazines to see new things about them. I didn't talk about them to my friends, although many of them forgot and talked about it in front of me before I told them to stop. I did have one moment where I was in the car with a friend, and a song came on and I didn't have the courage to tell her to turn it off. I think this shows that I am willing to give up anything, to an extent. I wanted to stick to my original plan, but it's hard when those things then effect those around you. I don't want to make my friends stop talking about One Direction, but in order for me to still be able to hang out with them, they had to stop. My family was very supportive of me giving them up because they always make fun of my obsessive love for them. Although when I told my sister, she started singing one of their songs to try and get it stuck in my head. The hardest moment was when they were all downstairs watching a TV appearance that the boys did, and I couldn't watch. Giving up One Direction was hard for me, but I found myself still procrastinating with my homework. I thought that when I gave them up, that I would have more time for other things like homework and sleep, but instead I found other ways to keep me busy. It was nice though to get to really talk to my friends. I felt like we finally connected in ways that we weren't doing before, because we were blindsided with One Direction. Being obsessed with something is okay, but when it starts to control your life, I think it is time to take some time away from it. I don't know if I will continue to limit my obsessiveness of One Direction, but I would love to continue having conversations with my friends that don't have to do with the boys. Being friends with people who love me and care for me is what really matters, not some people that I might not ever meet. Throughout this process I have learned a lot about myself and others. During this time, I realized that I don't need to constantly be updated on what the boys are doing to make me happy and that I can take time to be with the people that really matter to me. I also found myself talking about things that are going on in my life today, and not just sharing random facts that I know about the band. I found myself more aware of the people around me too and how their actions effected me. I was also more stressed out because I didn't have anything to distract me.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this project and hope to do something like it again soon. Giving up something that seems so important really showed me how unimportant it truly is in my life. I do love One Direction though, so I doubt I will be able to give them up again.

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    1. You are a trooper girl, I salute you in your courage to try to focus on anything else but One Direction!

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  9. Before I chose what to do for this project I asked people what they were doing and what they thought I should do. All of a sudden, I realized that I had a problem with making my own decisions, I had to be self-reliant. So, for my Transcendentalist experience I chose to be self-reliant, hoping I would learn to not be so unsure of myself. I always tend to ask others about their opinions because I am scared that I will make a mistake that I will regret for the rest of my life. Even though I am indecisive, I figured that this project would only be a small challenge for me. I told my parents about my project and told them to let me make my own decisions and at first they readily agreed. Quickly they found out that letting me make my own choices was not something they enjoyed doing. For example I was walking around the house in a t-shirt and a tennis skirt both of my parents quickly told me to put on some sweats and a jacket even though I wasn't cold. I said, "I need to make my own decisions and I am not cold so I will not put on a jacket." This made them really mad and they even threatened to take away my phone. Since I am not a disobedient person, I resisted one more time then put on sweats and a light jacket. Aside from my parents, I thought that this project would go easier in my everyday life, I was wrong. I had to stop myself from continuously asking my friends, "What do you think?" or “What do you want to do?” I don't want to make anyone upset or do anything they don't want to do so I always ask other people what they want to do. I caught myself on several occasions of asking these questions yet still, I realize that I subconsciously let some questions slip. For example, I asked my friends what they thought of my art project. They moved a lot of things around that I had previously placed and even though I didn't like the way it looked, I still went along with it. That same day, I asked my art teacher what she thought of it and she told me to move everything around again. I was glad that I got to choose where to put things and I like it a lot better than I did when I let my friends choose for me. I also found this experience hard to carry out because I would always forget to listen to myself during the day and then at night I would remember that I was doing a project. So, one day I physically had to write a note on the memo board in my room to listen to my own thoughts. Having something physically there to tell me that I needed to be self-reliant helped me remember to actually listen to myself. I found that listening to myself when I am picking out my outfits in the morning was easy because I am all by myself and I usually don't care how I look. I also found out that once I was around people, I was very tempted to just ask others for their thoughts instead of just making my own decisions. My "society" on the whole allowed me to pursue this path of being self-reliant partially because I didn't make any life changing decisions over the past two weeks but there were still some people in my “society”, like my parents, who had a hard time allowing me to listen to my own ideas and thoughts.

    I don't think I can ever solely listen to my own thoughts because I am a people-pleaser but I understand why the Transcendentalists wanted to be self reliant. Listening to your own moral compass is something that everyone should do and know how to do. Thinking for yourself, in my opinion, can also release your inner genius because you are not trying to fit into the tiny box that society has set out. Much like the Transcendentalists, I like the idea of really focusing on what I have to offer in the world and executing that based off of my decisions. I have also found that when I was self-reliant and did things the way I wanted to, like my art project, I felt a sense of accomplishment that I achieved something all by myself. That feeling of success is probably the reason that the Transcendentalists liked to be self reliant.

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  10. As my Transcendentalism project, for one week I gave up the use of my laptop for anything non-school related. I spend a lot of time on the computer, and I know that. My parents don't like how much time I spend on it and they think it affects my relationships with people. Obviously I needed the computer sometimes for school projects, but needless to say, it was really hard for me to stick to the 'non-school related' part. And because it was hard for me, yes I did cheat a couple times. The good thing was, when I did go on for something non-school related, I was able to catch myself after about 5-10 minutes and get myself off or just close the tab. I think the fact that I was really not able to go computer-free for an entire week shows my dependence on technology for not only school work but for pleasure, too. Originally I thought about giving up my phone for a week but I decided I could not do that; I am even more dependent on my phone than my computer. I use my phone for contacting friends who don't go to Arapahoe, and so for that reason I didn't give my phone up. I think that also showed my dependency too. If I couldn't give up something as simple as my phone, then what does that say about me as an individual? I know that it means that I am dependent on technology, which is not necessarily a completely bad thing.

    My parents were extremely supportive of my decision to give up my computer. They think that I text too much and am on the computer too much, which affects my learning and my relationships with other people. I would agree, and I think that is why they were so happy to see me give this up on my own will (as in, they didn't have to take it away from me) but I think they would be a tad disappointed if they knew I cheated a few times... As much as I don't want to admit it, I know that giving up my laptop and therefore the internet really helped me, especially the week before finals. I was able to get more studying and homework done in a shorter amount of time with much less stress, simply because I did not have the distraction of the computer. I also think that I was able to spend more time with my family and was an overall nicer person. I think being on the computer so much really started to affect my personality and how I treated people.

    I will definitely continue to limit my use. I think this reduction of computer use can help me even when finals are not approaching. I think it will make me a much less stressed/anxious person and I could possibly have more free time as well! During this process, I realized that I am able to find ways to occupy my spare time other than getting on the computer. I can also find fun things to do, like spend time with my family or read a book. I realized what a different person I am when I am not staring at a screen and how much more in touch with reality I am. This was a really eye-opening experience and I am EXTREMELY glad with my decision to give up my laptop for non-school related purposes.

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  11. For my transcendentalist experience, I chose to give up Facebook for a week. I never cheated; my page stayed silent as the grave for seven days. It ended up being much easier than I anticipated. I had the idea in my head that because I wouldn’t be on Facebook I would fall extremely behind on the lives of my friends and family. I think this idea came from the stereotype that our generation is so hopelessly devoted to the internet and could never go without it. I always considered myself a part of that without really thinking any deeper about it. But it ended up not really affecting anything, which led me to consider if there is a single thing posted on Facebook that is actually relevant. It is often said that Facebook is a waste of time, which is refuted by people (usually my generation) saying that it helps them keep in better contact with the people they care about and know more about their lives. But I really didn’t end up lacking any knowledge of these things. I also realized that I go on Facebook less than I knew. I didn’t think about it, but I never spend a large, significant chunk of time on the website. It’s always a brief, bored moment on my phone, or a quick glance on the computer as I’m on my way to a different site to work on a homework assignment. The loss of it really barely affected me at all, and I honestly expected it to. Due to the fact that I don’t spend much time on Facebook, I didn’t find myself with more free time than before, or anything like that. Mostly, I only noticed it was missing when my thumb went to the place where the app previously was on my phone out of habit, or when I opened my web browser expecting to see the familiar blue page. I learned from this that I am more self-reliant than I thought I was; I don’t in fact need Facebook to live, as my society, and even myself expected. When I think about it, it makes sense. I’ve never really cared about most of the things I see on Facebook. What difference does it make to me to know what song that girl I went to middle school with is listening to? Do I really need to see yet another picture of my cousin’s baby in a cute little outfit? No. I always assumed that these things mattered to me, at least a little bit. It turns out that they really don’t. I will continue to have a Facebook. Sometimes you can use it to communicate with people or plan an event, and it is nice to have a quick thing to browse through on your phone when you’re waiting in line for something. Overall, I realize that I gave myself less credit than I should have. I am absolutely, 100 percent fine without Facebook! :)

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  12. For my journey into the Transcendental world I decided to refrain from listening to music. I told myself that I would begin on Monday after school and not be able to listen to it until Thursday afternoon. I chose to give up listening to music because to give up something like Facebook or TV would not be that hard for me, music on the other hand, I rely on. I wake up listening to music, and turn it back on the second I get home from school;I even fall asleep to music. Ultimately, I made the decision to go without music because I was curious to see if I had really become reliant on it.

    After just a short while, I ended up modifying the initial criteria that I had set for myself. I realized that there were some cases when it was not really possible to avoid music. For instance, when a teacher is playing music in a classroom and you ask for them to turn it off, you soon become the classroom villain. I therefore decided to give up music only in the instances that it was possible to avoid. In all honesty, I probably changed the criteria because I realized that completely giving up music just was not going to happen. I ended up cheating again, and by the time Wednesday night came around I was listening to music. The fact that I could barely go three days without choosing to listen to music showed myself that I really had becomg reliant on it.

    When I told my family that I would be giving up music for a while my mom replied by saying "are you sure that you want to do that?". This showed me that even my parents recognize my dependence on music. My brother on the other hand, siezed the opporunity and did all he could to play music whilst I was around; forcing me to move to another room. Not having music around proved to be both negative and positive. It always seemed too quiet and I found it harder to wake up in the mornings. Also because I had no tunes to motivate me I would often find myself sitting around and not getting anything done. On the other hand, however, once I began my homework I found that it took a lot less time because I did not have the extra distraction. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that though I depend on music and really appreciate having it around, it is not infact a necessity.

    I do think that in the future I will continue to limit my use of music. Without it playing, I can think more clearly and ultimately be more focused to get homework done. In all, I learned many of the things we depend upon are not infact necessities, and it can be a healthy thing to detach oneself from them every once in a while.

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  13. For my Transcendentalist mini project I basically went into my backyard and stared at my piece of paper with all the questions for this project for about a half hour. Then I went back inside. In the middle of gym class when my partner was doing the 12 minute run, I took out my paper again while the wind was freezing me to death. This is when I composed the majority of my answers. When I thought about Transcendentalism, the main points that came to mind were of self reliance and letting my ideas flow freely. I found that these aspects of Transcendentalism were the ones that mattered the most to me because these are both things I have trouble with and at the same time things I highly value. I look up to my friends because I see them as very independent, extroverted individuals. They don’t care as much as other people I know about what others think of them. They are willing to expose their ideas and opinions with ease. These ideas and opinions are many times my point of view as well but I also think it’s in large part because I listen to their opinions. In essence I am not very self reliant. I don’t believe I am easily swayed mostly because I am a stubborn person. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was only stubborn after I made a decision that was heavily influenced by those around me. I established that I can improve a lot in self reliance. I shouldn't rely so much on other’s outlook on certain aspects. Although it’s good to form my own opinions, I disagreed with the full on Transcendental ideal that you can’t listen to anybody else. There needs to be a balance between what you think and what others think. Without collaboration there would be no flow of information, causing many people to be oblivious to their surroundings.
    While evaluating my life and application of these aspects, I knew I had a lot to work on. In this period of my life I thought I was decently independent but I could definitely work on it. I like the impact I have on those I care about. In my head I affect others positively although I don’t talk very much to people I don’t know. I also tend to keep my ideas to myself unless I feel very strongly about them or I’m asked for my opinion. My goal is to be as extroverted as my friends and family who courageously spread their sometimes genius ideas. But in order to really drive myself to ever let out my ideas I first have to evaluate what type of things are important to me. I concluded that one of the most important things to me is having strong convictions. Among these convictions I found loyalty to people and beliefs, family above almost all, having faith and a sense of belonging. I think I focus on these things pretty consistently. Even when I have a lot on my plate I find a way to include them in my life. Although there are definite distractions, such as school and lack of time management, I think I keep them at the back of my mind. The area I can most improve on is to not let myself be influenced by other’s point of view but rather to listen to many opinions and outlooks then formulate my own opinion. Another thing I can work on is to better employ my time towards things that benefit me and what matters to me.

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  14. Mrs. Lee said we would all like to think we are completely self-reliant, I know I do, but in reality self-reliance, especially for teenagers in near impossible. We have grown up surrounded by technology and now it is so hard to detach ourselves from the glowing screens. Google has made us lazy when it comes to studying. Facebook has made us lazy when it comes to personally asking our friends how they are doing. Today, technology is our crutch and we are constantly leaning on it. Our parents survived without Wikipedia and Twitter so why can't we? Even it is for a little bit. Why do our heads always have to be buried in technology? Even books are electronic these days. Where has the joy of holding a book and turning a page gone? I know it escaped me because give me a book and a smartphone and I will definitely pick up the smartphone to text, play games and check social media sites. Well I set out to answer these questions, although my approach was probably a little passive-aggressive. I will admit my iPhone is an extension of my body and my laptop is always right by my side when I am at home. Yeah, I know, not really healthy. There was one thing I knew for sure, there was no way in this universe I could give up my precious technology for a whole 24 hours. Ok, yes I am weak. And my lame excuse was I would probably need my phone or laptop for school when really I could probably use that amazing thing that is actually made out of paper called an encyclopedia. So instead I compromised. Usually at night once I finish my homework I sit in my bed on my phone or computer for 30 minutes to an hour and then I go to bed. I decided to not use technology at night for 5 days (the school week) and I told my parents to remove my electronics from my room at 9:00 at night. I am a very stubborn person so I also told them to use any means necessary to get the technology away from me. They completely supported this project because they are always complaining about how much I use my electronics at night and I should read a book instead. They have actually threatened many times to do this exact thing. The first and second night I was fine and totally anti-technology and I was happy when my dad took my phone and computer away. But by the third night I became pro-technology and it could be concluded that I was probably suffering from withdrawal of my technology relaxation time. And after a long day of equations and notes I desperately need that time. At 9:00 my dad came in and asked for my computer and phone but instead of happily giving them up I said, "Hold on, hold on I am using it for homework and I have to finish this assignment." Was I really doing homework? Nope, but I was hypnotized. I finally turned my electronics in at 10:00. I regretted my actions so the next two days I reluctantly gave everything up at 9:00. This shows how reliant I am on technology if I can't even put it down for an hour every night and do something "less modern". But, I would say it is a necessity, mainly for school purposes. For example, when I was writing my ALIS essay I was up until 11:00 each night on my computer, so in cases like that I do need it. But it wouldn't hurt to turn everything off if I finish my homework early enough. So, I am going to try and cut back my use just a little bit at night. I don't always need to be connected.

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  15. by Brian Heissenbuttel
    For my transcendental experience, I tried to take the “smart” out of “smartphone.” By this I mean avoiding the use of Facebook, Twitter, or even a web browser on my iPhone for two weeks. Instead I would have to rely on a normal computer for quick information that I’ve been able to access for a while using the innovation of smartphones. The challenge that was set should determine whether my need for information instantly is dire enough that my life would be significantly changed if I gave it up.
    The challenge was difficult. In many cases, I had already attained the information from my smartphone before I could remember the challenge that I set for myself. This suggests that using a smartphone to find information has become a reflex action, and I am able to search for something on the internet while I’m not completely focused.
    Whenever an interesting occurrence came up on the internet, I always arrived on the website after my peers because I needed to get my computer out. Though this raised little concern, it took away the morsel of joy felt by the person who “gets the big story first.” In this way, social media has become a source of internet journalism among friends, where the first person to get the story gets the highest of honors, a retweet.
    Looking back, I will not continue this challenge beyond this assignment. Though it is evident that the use of smartphones has molded into the lives of people, it is not detrimental to anyone. The use of smartphones allows information to be transferred with remarkable ease, and information is vitally important to modern society.

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  16. "Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to earn it."
    -Ralph W. Emerson
    Approaching this project I had one thing in mind, why is there so much materialism in such a small world? And the reality came in the form of working to make a difference. Of course, it wasn't easy to give up my iPod and cell phone for a week, but that's why I had to work at it.

    Once I heard about this project, I looked around the hallways, in the cafeteria, and just observed what people did while walking; and they all had something in common: captivation in technology. Relying on this idea, I began to think of what was wasting my time and it was my own technology in my own two pockets, a cell phone and an iPod. So, I decided to give it to one of my parents, in which they hid it from me for 7 days (as my choice). Without the use of this technology I became captivated to thought of having it back, but I began to think beyond the materialism in this world. It really made me think that there are more important things to think about, and greater possibilities of finding myself. However, with this decision, I was still surrounded by the technology my friends use, and a couple of them found me "insane" to give up something like that for that long.
    Under similar terms, in giving up these two objects, I find it interesting how much I would use them, (my cell phone) to contact people and ask them questions, (my iPod) for school use and solving certain problems I had questions to overall. I found that these objects allow us to really access things so much faster than ever before, and this processed allowed me to think, that the only reason I find it to be a necessity it because society calls for it to be a necessity. Is it easier to contact people? Yes, most definitely. And is it easier to access information faster? Yes, of course, but they're not necessities to living. Plus, by doing this project, I feel more inclined to not use technology as much, but only for certain things that have to be done, like solving school work which I can't figure out and using my phone for necessary terms only.
    By losing this object it was harder to tell people what time I needed to be picked up, or having it take longer trying to figure out answers for myself, rather than starting up the old "Google" and getting the help I needed. However, it made me realize, in general, the captivation our society has to newer and faster ways of obtaining, and doing things on their own. But, it also made me think to be more self-reliant on myself in order to obtain answers. I believe that if everyone could just do this for one day, we could all realize how much we waste our time, sitting on the devices and waiting for a text message, or trying to find answers, when everything we need is already inside of us. It's not that it's hard, it's just like Emerson said, we have to earn it by working hard at something that we can utilize, that working hard to think beyond materialism can make us greater minds in a society that needs it most, which is now.

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  17. I practiced self-reliance.

    I found that it was extremely hard to only listen to my own ideas. I have always been one to rely on my close friends for ideas and help on things. It was especially hard when I was with my best friend. She has always been the dominant one and I have been so use to listening to her and just going with it. Doing homework was a little challenging because I work best when I have examples of what I am doing to help me out.

    I found it easy when I was at home and when my close friends were not around. I did not have their influence or random ideas coming up. I was able to think on my own, even though some of those ideas and thoughts may have been based on when others have previously said or done. My family was the most willing and some of my friends were. My best friend said she was, but she found it hard to not dominate all the thinking when we were together. It was a struggle to try and almost ‘switch’ roles for us. I am usually the quiet and smart one and she is the outgoing, fun one. It lasted for a couple days.

    I realize that you may think something is your own but then realize it is not. After many years of always relying on your best friend for ideas to suddenly stop, and try to come up with them on your own, is a lot more challenging than I had originally thought it to be.

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  18. When we first recieved this transcendental experience miniproject, it really took me by quandary. I went through many ideas such as sitting in the park for a few hours or refraining from Tumblr or Pintrest. But in the end I regressed back to the conclusion that these were just too cliche.

    So, when I was sitting in Einsteins with my friend after school we decided it would be fun to argue about controversial topics, such as politics and some science related debates. This is when it hit me, I was going to do everything possible to disagree with her arguments just for the sake of disagreeing. I played the part of "devils advocate" as they call them.

    What did I learn you may ask? Well turning these ideas on my poor friend, having to deal with my sudden attitude of persisting opposition, I deepend my beliefs and in fact also left her questioning her own. The consequence of my actions includes this seemingly endless conversation going on for 1 and a half hours. This though, was worth all that I put out. I learned about more intrusive sides to a topic that I had thought I understood entirely. Thoreau asks the question of, is this of moral importance, and I argue that it most certainly is, and if along the way I guide a friend in strengthening or building her morals, this is of percise importance.

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  19. I, like many kids my age, am very dependent on my cell phone. I use it all the time to text my friends, check social networking sites, and look up information. I decided that maybe my dependency on this object wasn't such a good thing, so I gave it up for one week as my transcendentalist project. I also set guidelines for myself. First, I would give my treasured Iphone to my mother for one week. Second, I would not use any one else's phone to text people. However, I allowed myself to use others phones to contact my parents. I never cheated. My mom had very mixed feelings to me giving up my phone. At first she thought it was a joke, which says something about how dependent I am. Then, realizing I was serious, was proud of me for challenging myself. However, as the days went on I think she wanted me to get it back more than I did. My friends would receive somewhat frantic text messages saying things such as, “Are you with Baergen? Where is she? When will she come home?”. She even begged me to take it back and asked me to just skip class. Which I refused to do, of course. In this moment I realized that I definitely did not follow the transcendentalist views about civil disobedience. I hate to face any consequences and always try to stay out of trouble for this reason. I guess I forgot to tell my dad about this project because one day when I was driving home with my mom my dad called her freaking out about where I was and insisting I was lost or kidnapped because I wasn’t answering his calls. This showed me that although I may be too dependent on certain aspects of technology, getting in contact with my parents is a necessity, and my phone is my way of doing that.
    I declined my mothers pleas to take back my phone though, and carried on in my request to simplify my life. And giving up my phone proved to do just that. Without the distraction, I found myself getting work done much faster. I would come straight home from swim practice, finish my homework, eat dinner, and go to bed. Television isn’t really a part of my life, so I didn’t have to worry about that either. Usually I would spend a good 2 hours messing around on my phone. But that week I found myself going to bed before 8 every night. When the weekend rolled around, I was pleased to find myself doing things based on what I wanted to do, instead of what others were doing. In this case I proved to be pretty self reliant. I did not let others thoughts get in the way of what I wanted. I think this is a main point the Transcendentalists wanted to teach others. Giving up my phone also made me much more aware of how often others use theirs. When surrounded with my peers I found them to be ignoring me because they were busy on my phone. I realized the importance of being present when engaged with others. This made me also decide I would limit the technology I use in certain circumstances.
    The main thing I learned on my quest to simplify my life by removing my cell phone was that moderation is key. I believe in many of the things transcendentalists believe in such as being self reliant and able to make your own decisions, but I found myself disagreeing with the severity of some of their beliefs. Getting in contact proved to be a necessity, but constantly texting my friends wasn’t. I think completely shutting yourself off from the world around you is not healthy or beneficial, but tuning out once in a while to truly think about yourself and your needs can be very effective.

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  20. It seems nowadays everyone is always stressed out and anxious of the events in their lives. This is especially the case of almost every high school kid at Arapahoe. Sometimes all we require when we feel this stress is to go out and seek some solitude. With my Transcendentalism mini-project I chose to do just this and decided to walk home from school every day for a week, even after I was offered a ride each day. At first this seems like anything but solitude, however I found my self very secluded and enlightened on my journeys home. Although I found myself crowded by others as I first departed Arapahoe, I soon saw myself traversing across the empty nature-filled park. As I pondered my thoughts in my secluded state, I began to think of how self-reliant I really am. It really hit me how independent I truly am. I tend to lack trust in other people and just strive each day in my own thoughts. I see now that I don’t need to be alone, I just don’t mind being alone. When we were first introduced the project, I looked at it as just another clever way to devour our free time. However, when I walked that 30 minutes home each day, I realized how much I really enjoyed the peacefulness. I enjoyed the lack of burden of pleasing others and just enjoyed the flow of thoughts through my mind. I found no stress, no worries, just the emptiness of freedom. This newfound independence also made me realize that I needed to not be quite so independent. There is a fine line in life of where we must put our reliance on others or ourselves. I figured out that I have to balance these two ideals to find the perfect combination for my lifestyle.

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  21. Over the past seven days, I have been wondering around the hallways in old t-shirts and tennis shoes. I decided to give up my wardrobe for my project. Obviously, I did not walk around school naked so the next step was just to wear clothes I don’t like, so t-shirts. T-shirts are comfortable but not fashionable, like I try to be. I realize that for many people that already wear t-shirts every day, this does not seem like a big sacrifice but, for me, it was. I had just gone shopping last weekend and have some new clothes I have been dying to wear. I gave up clothes because I realized that is how I think people get their first impression of me, so that means I was dressing to what I think other people will like. This is not being self-reliant because their thoughts play into my every day morning preparation. If I was truly self-reliant, I would not care what they think and would wear what is comfortable. Wearing t-shirts saved me so much time in the morning, when I only have 20 minutes to get ready.
    I tried to stick to my plan but I had a hard time with a few occasions, one being a day for swim where we were required to wear an Arapahoe shirt, and the second was a party with friends. I was afraid that if I did not follow the dress up that would be taken out of my swim meet so I had to wear what society expected of me. I love dressing up and wearing my new riding boots so I cheated and wore them to a party on Saturday. I think my friends were expecting me to look cute but would not care if I didn’t. At this point in my life, it was my idea to look cute but I think originally society told me to look cute and, like the movie “Inception,” I subconsciously took that idea as my own.
    With not wearing my clothes, I realized how much time I put into looking good. As we saw in the Stanford Prison experiment, the people became what they thought they were (i.e. “prisoners” started acting like prisoners), I began adapting the attitude of not caring, I would brush my hair less and spend less time on getting my make-up to look good, if I even wore any that day. The only problem with this is that I have morning practices three day so the week so I’m typically really tired but if I do not act tired, I don’t feel tired. Dressing like I was tired made me notice I was exhausted so I started slacking on my homework.
    Giving up looking cute really made my life easier and I got more sleep in a week where stress and little sleep was particularly bad. I learned that I like to fit in and one way I do this is through clothes. I really can’t imagine not listening to others, especially because my decisions effect them. This week, I may have seemed self-reliant in dress but in act I totally listen to other people. I think that I can edit some of this out but I don’t plan on keeping up with looking like I don’t care.

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  23. For this mini project I gave up a possession for about a week. I gave up my Xbox 360. I thought it was going to be tough but it really wasn't so bad. I take pride in the fact that I never cheated. My family thought I would not last because I like to play video games in my spare time, so I would use it a few times a week. I wanted to play Xbox with my older brother, who is in college, and I do not get to talk to him often, but I did not. I also use it as a form of communication to talk to him because he lives in Washington. It was really only difficult for those times. I would not say that it made my life easier; I really just found other forms of entertainment that was not related to video games of any kind. For example I watched football with my dad I played some lacrosse with my brother, and played with my dogs. I would argue that even though they are others forms of entertainment, they are more productive than my Xbox. I plan on making this a permanent way of life because I feel better about myself. I think this way I better myself and make others feel as if I like spending time with them. I have learned that I don’t need many material things to be happy, spending time with others or just by myself is just fine and I enjoy it as well. I read once that material things bog you down because it takes effort to manage them. If you don’t have many material things then you are able to have more inner freedom. I believe that transcendentalism is a way to express the need for freedom, and the more you have the better everyone will be. The more material things we have then the more people think we actually need them, but we do not. Minimizing one’s needs is preferable by far rather than having more of what we call “luxuries”.

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  24. Like many of the previous examples of this project have shown, our generation is very dependent on technology, and many of us in the class decided to take a break from our phones and other various social connections for a few days. I personally decided to stay away from Facebook for a while, and stop using my phone. I had been planning to do this either way, especially for finals week. I find Facebook and my phone to be annoying but addicting, and it distracts me unnecessarily, but old habits die hard, so this project was the perfect way to implement my intentions.

    I found that this experiment really refreshed my mind. It was really not hard to put away my social tethers, and I found that when I did, I felt more at peace with myself, and there was more room left in my life for what I need to do. Instead of sitting staring at a screen of pictures I have already seen, reading statuses I didn't care about, and carrying conversations I didn't want to have, I focused on homework and my physical condition. I started working out every day, going to bed much earlier, and I accomplished more and did a more quality job on the work. In some situations I did find it hard to listen to myself. I had many internal debates about my feelings and thoughts about certain personal subjects, and it was hard to step out the door to run or do yoga. Sometimes, I felt loaded down, and my body was exhausted. I almost fell asleep on the couch, but I kicked myself to get off my butt and run. It was my best decision of the day, because though I was so tired afterwards, I was content with myself, and I wasn't worrying if someone had texted me or how many likes I had gotten on a picture I'd just uploaded.

    I think society eases into the this idea of self-reliance, but does not automatically let you follow this path. For instance, at school, many friends were confused or upset because I didn't respond to a text, but nothing on Facebook was pertinent or had changed, as expected. People in this age are used to getting in contact automatically and easily, especially my generation, so it was strange to some of my friends why I was foregoing these social outlets, but they adjusted and found other ways to contact me (seriously, we see each other every day, I don't need to talk to you in all of my own free time too! geez, we are dependent and impatient!!)

    In the span of just a few days, I could tell that this decision was worth it. I feel more together as a person, not always waiting for the next tiny social situation to occur, and I focused and took care of what is important to me.

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  25. Being the kind of person I am, actions of civil disobedience are incredibly enticing temptations and when given a blatant opportunity such as this to partake in one, I would be an idiot to pass it up. I would certainly not consider myself a troublemaker, in fact I honestly think it'd be healthy for me to be disobedient more often, but having always been mischievous at heart, I decided to follow in the footsteps of one of my favorite mischief-makers. As Brian so courteously pointed out on our "civil disobedience chalkboard graffiti", I have a deep admiration for the British street artist Banksy. Entertaining the idea that I am something of an artist myself, I decided to go for it and like Banksy, I began designing a few tags to throw up on some walls.
    With my ever-loyal camera and two finalized tags in hand, I walked out the door and into the tangle of houses that is my neighborhood. If there is anything one should know about my neighborhood, it's the fact that it is the epitome of American conformity. With its two car garages, (annoyingly) festive blow-up Christmas decorations, and typical father, mother, and 2.6 children living situations, the neighborhood with which I call home is something you'd find in an overrated Tim Burton film.
    As I smoothed out the creases of my tags whilst applying them (one of which ended up behind a cop's house-I'm just saying) I felt justified in my deviancy. This neighborhood of mine needed beauty and no, your plastic bonnet-wearing goose is not the beauty I am talking about. Everything in this cluster of houses comes from a box, making nothing unique. Obviously, in doing this I was, in terms of technicality, breaking the law but if that is what it takes to introduce some individuality into my cookie cutter neighborhood, so be it.
    My tags will not last forever-I would honestly be surprised to see my small proclamation of my glorious future as a world-renowned street artist still clinging to the side of the mailboxes in three days time, though I can only hope they leave an impression, no matter how small, on some unsuspecting pedestrian. By engaging in this particular excursion, I hoped to bring an end to the monotonous conformity of my neighborhood. I have caused no harm; I only desire to provoke thought (thought not along the lines of “Those darn whippersnappers vandalizing public property!”). I want them to heed the words of my second tag, concentrate, and perhaps coax out their inner transcendentalist. We are human and we are not made to live our lives in such a sheltered manner and sometimes it takes a jolt for people to realize that. This is my little jolt.

    Note: For the record, I used crack-and-peels to do this! I am not so heartless as to spray paint the poor defenseless objects of suburbia. It’s not their fault that they’re all exactly the same.

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  26. For my transcendentalist project, I went the simple rout - I just decided to spend some time in nature. Although it is probably the easiest thing to do, it really does give you a lot of time to just think.
    I would have preferably gone up to the mountains and just sat somewhere up there, but that wasn't quite possible, so instead I just found a secluded tree and spent about an hour under it, alone with my thoughts.
    When I started thinking about some transcendental ideas, the first one that came to mind was self reliance. For me, self reliance is important because it comes more recently to me. For a long time, I was a bit of a pushover and although I had my own beliefs, I got so caught up in the thoughts of everyone else that I would almost forget about mine. So more recently, I've started to try and be more self reliant, for myself, and this time alone let me reflect on that.
    In reflecting, it became rather obvious that no, I really am not as self reliant as I may hope, but I still believe I am to a good extent - where my ideas don't get in the way of others. I have my own beliefs, and unless someone comes up with a very good argument on the other end, they are pretty set in stone.
    When I considered some things that may distract my focus, my first thought was obvious - technology. When it comes to technology, there are so many things that I don't like about it, but at the same time, its so... addicting. If I could make it possible, I would try to give it up completely - no more distractions. But society honestly makes it difficult: can't give up my phone because people need to contact me, can't give up the computer because half of my school assignments are based off of it. But when you end up using technology, even for the little things, all of the other things become distractions.
    Pretty soon after, I also started thinking about if I was ever civilly disobedient, and I didn't really know where to put myself on that scale. For the most part, when I consider myself, I am a "rule follower". I hate the thought of disappointing people, therefore I try my hardest not to. In that regard, definitely not civilly disobedient. But on the other hand, when it comes to things that I honestly don't believe are right, I will fight for what I believe. I just have a tendency to agree with a lot of the rules. So once again, I can't really pinpoint where I am in that category.
    In wondering "how do I measure up" I decided that I'm not quite at the place I want to be, but I'm moving in the right direction in order to get there.

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  27. For my Transcendentalism mini-project, I chose to spend some time with myself in nature. At the crack of dawn this morning, I went to the park where I knew I would be all alone. Nobody was there and it was completely dark. It was incredibly eerie at first. I struggle with self reliance so I thought it would be a good opportunity to gain trust within myself. Needless to say it was a really challenging experience for me. When I am given time to think alone, I tend to get myself in trouble. Deep dark thoughts immediately flooded my head and it was mentally excruciating. It took a sea of overwhelming thoughts to finally concentrate on what really mattered. I gave a lot of thought to the ideas of transcendentalism. One that struck me was the idea of materialism being so imperative to our society. I have come from a place where nobody has much. This year, I have seen some incredibly fortunate people who have everything. From both aspects, everyone is so focused on things. Useless things. Ultimately these 'things' destroy us and are demeaning to the value of life. I have seen people without food buy materialistic items and I have also seen people who have everything want more. It honestly disgusts me. I love that aspect of transcendentalism; the fact that materialism doesn't matter. If society is always striving for these petty 'things' we are unable to place value on merits. Another aspect I contemplated was the civil disobidence. Originally, I really liked the idea. I think it is great that they believe people should follow through with their morals and stay true to themselves. Although it sounds great, it is unrealistic. If everybody were to disobey certain things that they didn't believe in, our society would be morally corrupt because no two people have the exact same values. If everybody were to stand up, all of our values would clash and it would be an utter disaster! I love the idea but it just isn't realistic. Finally, the hardest of all for me was the thought of self reliance. If I listened to solely myself, I wouldn't be here right now. I hate myself more than anything in this world. Even though the thought of it is a wonderful idea, it isn't logical for me. Overall, it was an interesting experiences however I do not think I could do it again just because I am not in a stable place in my life right now.

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