Connor H.

Second Place Winner

Growing up with two older brothers, a kid learns how to move quickly and get out of sight fast. What I would call avoiding a situation, others might simply call cowardice. Either way you look at it that was me. If I broke a favorite toy of my brother's, I would run up the staircase at close to land speed record times and hide in my closet. But this behavior of "getting the hell out of there" did not pertain solely to my home. When some of my friends would decide to play ding-dong ditch on a summer's night, I would be halfway down the street and out of sight by the time the designated bell ringer's finger pressed the button. This behavior went on for quite a while, and though I would love to portray a big tough persona now, I have to admit that courage often still abandons me. But sometime between middle school and the present, something within my mind changed. Perhaps I realized that running away from problems, literally, doesn't always solve things. Perhaps I lost a few brain cells along the way and stopped recognizing when it was time to slip out of a situation. While these are both probably contributors to the growth I experienced, I believe a very significant influence came from Jack London's novel, The Call of the Wild. The adventurous tale of the fight for survival and facing fear and uncertainty square in the face opened my mind. I first read the novel, a gift from my teacher, in third grade. However, since it was a "Great Illustrated Classics" edition, I will admit that I was more interested in the pictures than in the adaptation. When I finally read the unabridged version a few years later, I was captivated once again by the novel. Since then I have read several of Jack London's other novels and enjoyed his works more and more each time. The story of life and death in the Arctic showed that there comes a time in life when one can no longer sit idly. Fate holds danger for everyone and how people deal with their fate impacts whether they will live or die. While I have not experienced this yet, I know that I will no longer run and hide to escape what fate has in store for me. Though I would not say I welcome it, I will face it head on when the time comes. Because I have learned from the novel to face my fears of the unknown, I can now look forward in the years ahead to traveling and exploring all the world has to offer. My ability to welcome adventure and risk will be tested. But as The Call of the Wild has inspired me, one must disregard his or her apprehension and push forward, never succumbing to one's fears. With the mental strength the novel has given me, I know my dreams of exploration are possible.