2021 Writing Contest 2nd Place Submission, Level C
Semper Paratus by Gabrielle F.
I have lived my entire life with the words “semper paratus” (always ready) perpetually ringing in my ears and rolling off my tongue. Naturally, this is a result of being raised in a Coast Guard family. As a seven-year-old I would color illustrations of coastguardsmen standing with their rescue dogs beneath a heading of “Always Ready!” and by the time I entered middle school, I had truly commenced taking the motto to heart: Whenever I enjoyed an outing, I never forgot my pocketknife and a few band-aids. Nevertheless, it was not until my high school years that I began to perceive how far-reaching the application of this phrase truly is. Not only a call to prepare for day-to-day accidents and incidents, semper paratus means to be actively ready for any circumstance, whether in two hours or ten years.
Some would claim that it is impossible to be always ready for each and every conceivable occurrence. However, I am of the opinion that the possibility of achieving this status depends largely on your definition of “ready.” When you consider that your future, your country’s future, and ultimately the world’s future are all in the hands of God, then you must eventually conclude that true readiness is being prepared to have faith in the Lord’s plan, despite what happens to you or the world around you. To be “semper paratus” is to be ready for God to work His will through you. To this end I believe the time I spend in study of God’s word and the teachings of Torah scholars is the most vital way I prepare for the future. Through building a resilient connection with the Lord, I am preparing to trust in Him throughout every twist and turn my life takes. Ultimately, this will lead me to a perpetual readiness for any occasion the Lord brings.
Naturally, I also feel many aspects of my education actively prepare me for the future. Like many young adults I aspire to travel abroad someday, so I have zealously been learning Spanish, one of the most commonly spoken languages. In addition, I love to study history and government. According to Theodore Roosevelt, “The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” While this is indeed true, I am inclined to concur with Georg Hegel, who quite observantly stated, “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” In my opinion we cannot merely study the actions that have been taken in the past; we must also learn why they were taken. Therein lies the answer to how we can avoid a continual recurrence of the events in our history and therefore shape a new future, hopefully a better and brighter one. For this reason my study of the world’s history prepares me to make educated decisions in the future through being forewarned of the consequences of actions taken today. Although just two of the many facets of my education that prepare me for the future, history and Spanish are certainly some of the most significant.
I believe there are very few people who would disagree with me when I claim that time management skills are some of the most essential abilities in our hectic society. As C.S. Lewis once declared, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” Our time on Earth is limited. Our time to learn is limited. Our time to act is limited. When Gandalf whispered, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us,” he was simultaneously encouraging a depressed hobbit and speaking a universal truth. With this in mind I spend a great deal of my time practicing the management of my time. Ultimately I strive not to stress over what I have and have not completed on a given day, to prioritize, and to save time for my family and for rest. As I continue to improve with these aspects of time management, I know that I will be better prepared for my future in this eventful world.
As the maxim goes, “Wars are won in the general’s tent.” Planning is the art of pulling ideas off of paper and altering them into reality. Before I fall asleep each night, I spend some time deciding exactly what I desire the next day to look like and precisely what I wish to accomplish before clambering into bed the next night. In addition, I am a part of scouts, and I accept every opportunity to plan badgework, events, and projects for my unit. I believe that this experience will lend me the tools I need in the future to transform my dreams from wishes to reality. Nonetheless, while goals and plans are the first stages to success, there is another essential step. In the words of Cornelius Fichtner, “Planning without action is futile, and action without planning is fatal.” Goals and plans are nothing without action. To this end I endeavor to work hard at everything I do in order to build a resilient work ethic. There is no substitute for hard work, and I believe learning to put maximum effort into everything I undertake is key to preparing for every aspect of my future.
A prevailing proverb proclaims, “Exercise not only changes your body; it changes your mind, your attitude, and your mood.” Scientifically this aphorism is accurate. Exercise releases endorphins while the nutrients in healthy foods contribute significantly to mental health. For this reason daily exercise and a nutritious diet are some of the most essential parts of living a blissful life. Of course, choosing to maintain these two standards is far more challenging than choosing not to, so transforming them into habits early on offers you a tremendous advantage in the future. Ever since I was very young, I have enjoyed being active, and to this day I continue to set aside time for daily exercise. As Robin Sharma prudently professed, “If you don’t make time for exercise, you’ll likely have to make time for illness.” In addition to exercise every day, I practice eating nutritiously and utilizing self-control where food is concerned. I believe that building these important habits of exercise and a wholesome diet will benefit my health not only now but also in the future, both physically and emotionally.
The art of preparing for your future is undoubtedly multifaceted. However, with my parents beside me acting as my mentors and supporting me, I know that I am prepared for anything that comes my way. God has given me a wonderful family to draw encouragement and strength from, and He will ensure I am ready for whatever challenge I face next in life. I will certainly continue to work hard and strive to learn, grow, and prepare for my future in every way possible, but ultimately it is only by placing my faith in the Lord’s plan and provision that I can truly become semper paratus.