A Look at the Drive and Will Power of Frederick Douglass and Chris McCandless
It is sometimes said that nothing in life that is worth having comes easily. I have noticed that what often separates those who attain their hopes and dreams from those who do not is that they possess a certain drive and determination to stop at nothing to achieve those dreams. Although the two individuals Chris McCandless and Frederick Douglass lived in different time periods, and grew up in totally different environments, they possessed the will to overcome whatever obstacles life presented them and achieved the goals that they set for themselves. Chris McCandless was determined to live an unconventional, nomadic lifestyle like those of his idols Henry David Thoreau, Boris Pasternak, and the Jules Verne character Captain Nemo. Growing up, he waited until the time was right to begin his journey across the country and into the wilderness. John Krakauer wrote: Five weeks earlier he’d loaded his belongings into his car and headed west without an itinerary. The trip was to be an odyssey in the fullest sense of the word, an epic journey that would change everything. He had spent the previous four years, as he saw it, preparing to fulfill an absurd and onerous duty: to graduate from college. At long last he was unencumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence. (22) Later in the book we were again given a glimpse of Chris’s gritty determination to achieve a goal that he had set for himself.
During his travels Chris stopped in the small dusty town of Tapock, Arizona. It was there that he noticed an old secondhand canoe which he purchased in an attempt to float from Lake Havasu to the Gulf of California. During this adventure down the Colorado River Chris traveled through the Colorado River Indian Reservation, the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, and the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge, and across the border into Mexico. He was unaware of the fact that once in Mexico the Colorado River turns into a maze of irrigation canals, marshland, and dead end channels. At one point he follows a map drawn by a group of Mexican canal officials he had met to no avail. He found himself at a dead end in the middle of the desert. He did not give up though. Instead he carried his canoe and gear for three days to a new canal to continue his quest for the sea.
After traveling for several more days Chris once again found himself lost and stuck in swampy marshland. By chance he met a group of duckhunters who after hearing his tale of wrong turns and dead ends agreed to take him to the small fishing village of El Golfo de Santa Clara, located on the Gulf of California (34-35). At several points along the way Chris could have easily given up his quest and turned back, but he would not allow himself to fail. This is the same type of determination that can be seen in Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass was born a slave in Tuckahoe, Maryland during the early 1800’s. He was eventually sent to Baltimore to live with his new master and mistress.
It was there that Douglass found the key by which he could unlock the bonds of slavery and revel in the freedom that few of his peers would ever come to know. Douglass wrote, “Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell” (31). He remained true to his words over the next couple of years and used an ingenious plan to take every opportunity possible to learn to read and write. Douglass was often called upon by his mistress to run various errands throughout the day. He found that if he hurried up and got his errands done quickly he had a few minutes that he could use to get a lesson. He carried with him bread and a book. He would make friends with the white kids in the streets by bribing them with the food and in return in they would teach him what they could. Douglass described the scenario, “This bread I used to bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return, would give me that more valuable bread of knowledge” (32). What a great plan to use the most basic of human needs, hunger, and the kids’ naivety to gain the most valuable of assets that a slave could hope for, but he wasn’t done. Frederick not only wanted to read, but he was also driven to learn how to write. Once again he used a cunning plan to reach this goal. Douglass described the how he learned to write as follows: The idea as to how I might learn to write was suggested to me by being in Durgin and Bailey’s ship-yard, and frequently seeing the ship carpenters, after hewing, and getting a piece of timber ready for use, write on the timber the name of that part of the ship for which it was intended. When a piece of timber was intended for the larboard side, it would be marked thus-“L.” When a piece was for the starboard side, it would be marked thus-“S.” A piece for the larboard side forward, would be marked thus-“L.F.”
When a piece was for starboard side forward, it would be marked thus-“S.F.” For larboard aft, it would be marked thus-“L.A.” For starboard aft it would be marked thus-“S.A.” I soon learned the names of these letters, and for what they were intended when placed upon a piece of timber in the ship-yard. I immediately commenced copying them, and in a short time was able to make the four letters named. After that, when I met with any boy who I knew could write, I would tell him I could write as well as he. The next word would be, “I don’t believe you. Let me see you try it.” I would then make the letters which I had been so fortunate as to learn, and ask him to beat that. In this way I got a good many lessons in writing, which it is quite possible I should never have gotten in any other way… Thus after a long, tedious effort for years, I finally succeeded in learning to write. (34-35) I think what amazes me the most about both of these individuals was the time period over which they continued to strive for their goals. They both forged ahead over the course of months and years gaining whatever advantages and overcoming any obstacles they were presented with, staying focused on the final outcome. This type of determination and will power is inspiring to me, as in this day and age more people seem to have trouble setting goals, or staying focused on achieving them for any extended time period.
Analysis on Will Power’s Play: Fetch Clay, Make Man
Fetch Clay, Make Man Response Paper
While watching Fetch Clay, Make Man, and during the conversation we had with the stage manager, I connected a lot of what we had mentioned in class with what I saw and heard. The first thing I noticed during the show was something that was brought up in the in class discussion, and that was the fringe that was hanging from both sides of the stage. The moment that a transition started to happen where furniture moved through the fringe, I immediately thought about how the fringe could catch on something that was moving through. Luckily, on the night that I went to see the show, the fringe didn’t get caught on the furniture after it was pulled back. I actually thought, while seeing the show, “that’s something that went in to the run book,” referencing the management of the fringe after a transition.
Another thing that the fringe brought up is the communication between the stage manager and the assistant stage manager during the run of a show. We talked in class about how important being able to have a good line of communication between the SM team is, especially because after the rehearsal process, the SM and the ASM are no longer side by side. Hearing about how the SM and the ASM, during the performances, were able to discuss, and even joke a little, about the fringe showed to me how well their SM team was able to communicate during the run of the show. I also think that because they have worked together before, it made it easier to keep up that level of communication. This also brings up a point that was made really early in the semester, that making good relationships with the people you work with on a show will only help going forward. It was clear that the good relationships that the SM team share was very beneficial to a successful run. In addition, because they were able to joke about the fringe in a lighthearted way, they did another thing that we discussed in class, which is to utilize the tenets from Fish!, specifically “Choose Your Attitude.” They could have instead gotten very frustrated at the fringe every time, but instead, by laughing and joking about it, they made dealing with the fringe less of an issue, which made everyone happier and more productive.
Another instance of relationships that I thought of when we discussed the show was the relationships between stage managers during a co-production like Fetch Clay was. This was apparent when she discussed the quality of the work that the other stage manager did on the first leg of the production. I think that not bringing up the quality of the work to the other theatre is a good decision, because doing so now wouldn’t help anything, and might hinder the relationship between Roundhouse and the other theatre.
Also, I thought that it was remarkable how she was able to make her own blocking script and tracking sheet if the original paperwork was missing so much, based only on a recording of the show and a couple of days of rehearsal. While watching the show, I was noting how different items and actors moved on stage in each scene. There were a lot of instances where I consciously thought about the tracking of items on stage. One instance was when Stepin Fetchit left his hat on the couch when there was a flashback transition, and then he went and grabbed it back up after the flashback was over. I was thinking about how we talked about knowing where a prop is at all times, and I thought this was a good example, because if in rehearsal they were to work just the transition back into the present to the end of the scene, it would be important to preset the hat on to the couch, as that is something that will be picked up after the transition was over, which is something that we talked about in class.
As for future shows that I will watch, I will definitely see them differently going forward. I already am noticing the technical elements more as I am watching the show, but now I am actively looking for how the stage manager calls cues as a part of the whole process. I am also thinking about how the SM team is communicating, if I see something that would require good communication (like with the fringe in Fetch Clay). Now that I am in this class and are thinking like a stage manager, a lot of the more backstage things are coming to mind as I watch a show.
A Look at the Bible in Regards To the Human Manpower to Overcome Evil and Self-Indulgence
Temptation and Greed
The story of Adam and Eve and their fall from God’s grace in the Garden of Eden is an interesting and debatable one. In the bible, God created the Garden of Eden and create Adam and Eve from Adam’s rib. He told them they may eat from any tree in the garden except the fruit of the tree of knowledge of what’s good and evil. Even after He told them that, He still creates the serpent to influence Eve and Adam into eating the fruit. God, as people perceive Him to be, is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving. God should have known that the two human would eat from the fruit if He is indeed all-knowing. However, God did this to test their willpower to withstand temptation and greed, and throughout the bible, God continue to test many people against the two sins.
Temptation and greed are two very horrible traits to possess. God test many people against such sins from the very start of the bible, starting with Adam and Eve. He deliberately plants the tree of knowledge of what is good and evil in the garden and mention it to Adam and Eve. People, in many sense, when they are told not to do something, the urge to go against that is daunting. God is purposely taunting Adam and Eve with this tree, testing to see if they can withstand the temptation to go against His command. Not only that, but God also create the serpent that eventually manipulates Eve into eating from the tree. The serpent told Eve that “ye shall surely not die (King James Version. Genesis 3:3)” if she eats from the tree despite what God had said. Again, God is testing them, except this time, more directly. God create the serpent, and as an all-knowing God, He had known what the serpent would do. Instead of creating a nice, non-manipulating serpent, He creates this instead to test his two human creations against temptation. The serpent serve to tempts Eve into eating that fruit and God test Eve to see if she can continue to resist temptation after she knows that she will not die, and the fear of death gone from her mind. In the end, both Adam and Eve fail the test as they both succumb to temptation. Despite that, God continue to test others against the same sin.
After Adam and Eve fail God’s test, He continue to test other people, one such person is Abraham in Genesis 22. God gave Abraham and his wife one and only son, Isaac. In a test against temptation and greed, God told Abraham to take Isaac to a mountain where he will then have to “offer him there for a burnt offering (Genesis 22:2)”. Abraham is old and he does not have a son, someone to pass on his life to. God gave Abraham the son he had always wanted only to ask Abraham to sacrifice said son. This is another test, one much like Adam’s and Eve’s test. In this test, Abraham must choose between his own greed and temptation of having a son, or sacrifice Isaac and let go of his personal desire for God. It surely was a tough choice for Abraham, but unlike Adam and Eve, Abraham chooses his love for God rather than his love for his only son. In the end, Abraham pass God’s test unlike Adam and Eve. Nonetheless, God did not stop His test there and continue to test others to see if they can overcome temptation.
Another example of God testing his human creation can be seen though Moses and his followers. Through Moses, God help save the people from the Egyptian enslaving them. He show His power by parting the sea for them to pass, the water acting as a “wall onto them” (Exodus 22:29) and upon reaching dry land, God gave them food and water to survive. God answers to the children of Israel and He save them from the Egyptians. He continues to help them, and in some way, this is a test. God wanted to see if they will accept what He has done for them and accept it with grace, or will they fall into greed and temptation and continue to ask for more? Even after all that He has done for them, the Israeli people still continue to ask for more and more. In this respect, they have fail God’s test. They let greed rule over them instead of being thankful for what they already have.
In the bible, God has test many people, wanting to know if they will overcome their temptation and greed, like Abraham did, or will yield to it like Adam and Eve and the people of Israel. They were not the only one test. Throughout the bible, God continue to test many more people against such sins. This is God test and even today, many continue to fail rather then succeed.
The Steps Towards Taking Our Discipline And Willpower To The Next Level
Do the hardest task first: Since willpower is a finite resource, each task that we do leaves a little less discipline for the next one. To get around this fact, you want to do your most difficult (or least favorite) task first thing. Not only does this save willpower for later, but it also gives you a mental boost knowing that the worst is over, and it’s smooth sailing from now on. Related to this, is the concept of doing the most important task first. In any given day, you will have a to do list, with some high value and some low value items. Do the highest value item first, and push off the low value tasks until later in the day.
Tell yourself a little white lie: Often, the hardest part of doing something is getting started. Once you get going, momentum takes over and you can generally take a task to completion, provided it is not too complex or time consuming. So then the question becomes: how do we get started? I’ve found there is a little hack that makes this easy.
Simply lie to yourself and say that you’re only going to do the task for a few minutes, or that you won’t give 100% effort to it. This is generally enough to get you started, and from there your desire to succeed will take up the slack and make you complete the job. Try this one out a few times, and you will probably be amazed at the results.
Exercise: One common pitfall with self-discipline is the fact that we simply get tired when we push ourselves. This is normal, but it is not conducive to a lifetime of success and achievement. One remedy to this is physical exercise. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but building endurance and stamina in the gym will yield big benefits in your other endeavors in life. The ability to push past the point of discomfort in the gym will translate into the ability to push past discomfort in pretty much everything else.
If you have difficulty with the discipline to stick to a regime, go ahead and tell yourself a little white lie. It’s OK to fool yourself into thinking you’re only going to get on the treadmill for 5 minutes, and then stay on for a full 30.
Nuke the bridge: Humans are social creatures and respond to peer expectations. We can use this fact to help us build discipline. When you set a goal, announce it. Don’t just announce it to one person, announce it to many. Let everybody know that you are going to do X. More often than not, those people will hold you accountable. You won’t want to be perceived as a quitter, so you will suddenly have the ability to work long hours and get things done. In other words, you have left yourself no other option than to follow through – you’ve burned the bridge to quitting.