Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Alex Castro

EN 101


                                                                           You Talking About Practice!?!


                In Richard Hague’s “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, in Gary Gildner’s “First practice”, and Langston Hughes’s, “Thank You, Ma’am” all these readings have a common underlying theme.  This theme is actually one of my favorite themes for a book, movie, etc., and it is to be the best you can be.  You have heard a million people say that you can only do as good as your best.  “Directions for Resisting the SAT” focuses on being the best you can be and not letting a test or a person tell you to be different.  Hague stresses the need to ignore the results of the SAT as an indication of your potential.  “First Practice” focuses on the getting better aspect.  In sports, an athlete works on his or her game and improves his or her game in practice.    In “Thank You, Ma’am,” a woman tries to set a young boy on a better path.  This short story is about helping others to be the best they can be.  Being yourself, getting help from others and practice are the keys to success in a person’s life.   

In Richard’s Hague’s “Directions for Resisting the SAT,” Hague urges the readers to be in control of their own lives.  Hague believes that people put too much importance on the results of the SAT.  From the first line he sets the tone, “Do not believe in October or in May or in any Saturday morning with pencils.”  Generally the most popular months to take SATs is October and May and they are taken on Saturday mornings.  So, Hague is telling the reader to stop worrying so much about a single test.  One’s life should not be controlled by a test taken in high school.  The theme I see in Hague’s poem is for a person to be themselves.  A person should do or be whoever they want to be regardless of a score on a test.  A person will be successful if they follow their passion and love instead of the path marked out by a national exam.  The best way to get a good result is to look inward.  Recognize all the great things about you and forget about anything anyone else has to say.  Hague emphasizes this way of life when he writes, “Desire to live whole”.  Be you, be the best you can be and everything will be just fine.

In Gary Gildner’s “First Practice,” Gildner writes about the hard work and effort.  The title of the poem has “practice” in it, which for any kind of person, is the key to improvement.  For me, practice is just as important as a game or match or, in academic terms, a test.  In any sport, the only way for a player to get better is to practice every day on different skills.  They must go to the gym and build their body up so they can be stronger.  Every time they step on the court they want to play at their best and the only way your best gets better is through practice.  Gildner expresses this theme through sports.  I remember coaches of mine saying things very similar to what the coach says in Gildner’s poem.  For example, Clifford Hill says, “I take that to mean you are hungry men who hate to lose as much as I do.”  Many coaches of mine have described this hunger to succeed.  This hunger drives us to push harder, work longer and strive farther.  The same lies true in school.  If a student wants to get a better grade they need to practice or in other words, study.  Though, Gildner uses sports in his poem, the message can be applied to any person or team.  Lack of effort leads to a lack of success but practice constantly and rake in the benefits.

In Langston Hughes’s “Thank you, Ma’am,” Hughes focuses on the generosity of a woman trying to help a young boy.  This short story takes some unexpected turns in the beginning.  First a little boy tries to steal a purse from a women walking on the street.  When he grabs the purse he falls and finds himself trapped in the grasp of the women.  The woman then takes the fourteen or fifteen year old back to her house.  There she washes off his face and gives him a nice meal.  Not exactly what one would expect the women to do to the boy after he tried to steal from her.  Langston Hughes shows the reader that a simple act of kindness can go a long way.  Also, the woman in the story is trying to put the young boy on the right path so he can be the best he can be.  Instead of hitting him and then letting him go, she treats him well and disciples him to behave better.  We see a person trying to make another person better.  Instead of practicing for herself, the woman is helping those in need.  Sometimes, to be a better person, one needs a coach, a friend, or a random woman, to help steer him or her in the right direction. 
Reflecting on these themes in mediation was probably the easiest and most gratifying reflection so far.  I went back through all the coaches I have had in my life.  I thought about the lessons they taught me and the impact they had on my development as an athlete and a person.  The most influential were probably my tennis coach and my soccer coach.  Both coaches pushed me beyond my limits and challenged me to be a better player than I was the day before.  They taught me to be grateful for my ability and my teammates but to not take anything for granted.  These lessons had a profound impact on me and yet they are so easily forgotten in chaotic daily life.  So, thinking about these topics again brought back the great memories I had with old coaches and teammates plus pushed me to make even better memories for the future.  I also unfortunately thought about getting trapped in a half-nelson by a woman.  This was not as pleasant.

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