Over the last week, I learned a lot about someone I had never even heard the name of. After learning so much about him, his struggles, his impact on society, and his views on life, it also makes me feel that this world has come to a loss after Ebert's death. It is very unlikely for someone to remain optimistic about life, despite the bad times. However, this is nothing compared to what Ebert had to experience. He was unable to eat, drink, move properly, and even speak. Yet, he remained as the ray of sunshine, very positive in life. The problems I face on a regular basis seem so minuscule and worthless. Still, I break down and lose all of my confidence. For instance, just last week, I had forgotten my chemistry homework on the kitchen table, and ended up getting a 0 for that assignment. I felt very disheartened and started doubting myself for being so careless and foolish. In fact, that whole day just passed by of pessimistic thoughts because I would always remember to do my homework, but messed up this one time.
When I walked into this class and learned about Ebert, I was astonished to find out that he had cancer--but did not sink. If I get so worried about a mere homework assignment, how can Roger Ebert be so courageous when he had cancer and was restricted to eat, drink or even talk? My problems seemed so useless compared to his.
After getting to know a little about Ebert's life in class, I began to read some of Ebert's blog posts--his only source of communication and the only way he can express his ideas. After reading "All the Lonely People," I could relate to something Roger Ebert wrote: "I've never felt particularly lonely. I came from a happy, stable home. The school bus dropped me off at 3, and my parents weren't home until after 5, but those two hours alone were treasure to me. I was a curious little boy. I always had something going." Similarly, I reach home from the school bus around 3, and my parents and brother come home at 5:30. I love the time I have alone and would spend that time doing my hobbies, which include painting a picture, writing, or listening to the music I love. Another thing that I was very fascinated by in his blog post was when he wrote: "I can't remember the last time I felt bored. I can't eat, drink or talk, and yet I have so many other resources to keep myself entertained. I think I must be a case study." I get bored almost on a daily basis. Even though I can eat, drink, and talk, I end up having nothing to do at times. I think it is amazing for someone to keep themselves entertained when they don't have the daily things we take for granted. He really is something special.
This all ties up to our original question: Why do some people swim, while others sink? I believe that sinking or swimming all has to do with your past experiences. For example, I have an uncle that had grown up dirt poor in India. His parents died when he was only 10 years old, and he grew up in poverty. Yet, he did not sink. He got a small job in India to satisfy his daily needs, while he was still attending school and keeping up with his education. Now, after 20 years, he is a very successful doctor in California. His philosophies on life are always very optimistic, and he worked extremely hard to achieve what he has today. My uncle swam because he knew the consequences he, and his younger sister would have to bare if he didn't. My uncle had a rough childhood and was "used to" struggling. He knew his parents never gave up and saw them struggle to provide food on the table everyday. So, when my uncle was left on his own, he imitated his parents.
On the other hand, if someone grew up in a middle class family and lived a life where they didn't have to go "the extra mile," or didn't have exposure to any kind of hardships in their life, chances are, when something happens that is out of the norm, they may not be able to handle it. They had only been used to life going the way they expected it to go, and would not swim, nor be mentally prepared for a death in the family, being laid off, or even a minor relationship problem.
In conclusion, though sinking or swimming may not be determined solely by your views on life/what you have went through, I believe that your past experiences and the way you grew up have a major impact on whether you will swim or sink when you are faced with a personal tragedy. Relating this to Mr. Ebert, for some time, he had been an alcoholic and did even face troubles. Would this have impacted his decision to swim?
Roger Ebert: A Role Model for Many