2021 Writing Contest First Place Submission, Level C
Grasshoppers, Masterpieces, and Metaphoric Pianos by Luke L.
Once there was a carefree grasshopper who played all summer. The hardworking ants told him he should collect food before winter, but he hopped off to have fun. Bleak winter came. The foolish grasshopper had no food to eat, no shelter to protect him from predators, and no wall to shield him from the freezing wind. The grasshopper, cold and hungry and near death, staggered humbly to the ant hill. He chattered, “C-c-can I s-t-t-stay here?” The ants greeted him with open arms and fed him. Then when summer came again, the grasshopper gathered food for winter. The fable about a grasshopper’s not preparing for the coming winter is a lesson to readers to prepare for what’s coming in life. As a student, I, too, must prepare and, in fact, have to do so through school, robotics, and exercise.
School has prepared me mentally for life. “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” That is what Aristotle thought about school. School teaches many skills a student will need to know for the future. It might be possible that school will spark an interest in something such as engineering, science, or cartography. Education trains the mind to think and share information with others. School also builds character. For example, diligence, responsibility, and hard work can all be learned by completing all assignments in their entirety to the best of one’s ability. Often it is easy and even fun to work on assignments from enjoyable subjects, but character is developed when working on complicated subjects. I have often thought school is the worst, but I remind myself that the reward is priceless.
Robotics has been influential in preparing me for the future. How—you ask? Well, robotics teaches me how to work and interact with other people. I am involved in FIRST robotics. Two of the core values are Gracious Professionalism® and Cooperition®. Together that means our team does our best in competition, but we act with kindness in all situations. It even means helping our opponents because in the next round that opponent could be our partner. Moreover, we can learn from other teams by helping them. Another part of robotics is interacting with community leaders and experts. We must gather sponsorships in order to pay for robot parts and tournament fees. Additionally we collaborate with experts in the field. I have had to learn how to listen carefully and implement their suggestions. We also graciously discuss when things don’t work. Robotics teaches me time management because we must build a competition-ready robot in about two months. Finally, robotics has taught me how to work under pressure and not give up. The robot breaks sometimes (after every round sometimes). In fact, one time our robot exploded—no kidding. True story. And our next round was three minutes later. Talk about pressure! These experiences have taught me that things do not always go my way, but I must keep going, form a new plan with my teammates, and quickly implement it. Robotics is preparing me to work with people graciously often while under pressure.
Wrestling champion Muhammad Ali once declared, “I hate every minute of training. But I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” Exercising regularly is preparing me for a healthy life as an adult. It’s hard. It hurts. I rarely want to exercise. However, it helps with blood flow because as muscles are strained, they need more oxygen, so capillaries, which are fine branches of blood vessels, are produced. Also, exercise helps the liver because it decreases fatty-acid synthesis, which will prevent liver damage. Exercise also expands the lungs, which is especially important for me as an asthmatic. Although exercising is hard, it will keep me healthy.
“Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it,” declared Tom Lehrer. What the satirist meant by that is this: How well a person prepares for life is what he will get out of life. Just like a musician must practice and work hard to play beautiful music, so must I prepare diligently for life. How do I prepare for life? First, school will prepare me intellectually. Secondly, robotics prepares me to cooperate with people. And thirdly, exercising will prepare me to be healthy when I am old. These make up my masterpiece that I play on a metaphoric piano and prevent me from being a foolish grasshopper.