Alaska Writing Site
Keeping the Beat Alive Inside
By Deanna Knutson
It came to me like a lion going in for the kill, and I was the kill. It crept up to me and I hardly knew it was there. Although I soon began to realize it; I became aware of something coming closer.
And it pounced.
Yet this “hunter” wasn’t palpable; it wasn’t a furry lion nor a graceful cat. It wasn’t able to harm me, but no, this was for the better. It was beneficial and something I would grow to love.
It was rhythm. And it still hangs around to ambush me from time to time. Yes, some days I still ponder why these moving sensations of beats in all different areas consume so much of my feelings and time. Then it attacks; then I remember. I believe in rhythm and how it will always be there in almost everything; like a scar from an attack.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.
“Shut up!!!” Someone is rocking out with the end of a pencil tapping the desk or table, their feet matching the rhythm and their head swinging back and forth. I can’t specifically say how many times this has happened, to me and to some of my peers. People say, ‘Control,’ and drummers say, ‘Whatever!’ Like this instance when my family was getting ready to eat dinner and I had my spoon in hand tapping the glass. My sister threw a couple of threats my way and, being the genius I am, I obeyed, although still doing a quite beat with my feet.
Techno music drifted from the upstairs office down to the chaotic living room. I could tell the fast beat always brought back the life into my father’s eyes as he danced along with the catchy beat. His fingers drummed along on whatever surface available and his voice hummed with the tune. I have inherited my father’s love for rhythm, but have grown more on my own. I believe in rhythm and its ability to create life and to be alive. Yes, rhythm is alive. It’s in the wind, in nature, in actions, in existing.
Aside from gaining the love of rhythm from my father, I have found more of my own from the drum lessons I started three or four years ago. I told my mom I wanted to start learning to play the drums, and one casual day an older teenager told me to start working with my hands, otherwise I would bleed from lack of calluses. I went to my mom with his request and asked her if she knew what he was talking about. She exclaimed that she forgot, but yes, I was beginning drum lessons. I was discovering my deep love for rhythm.
My drum instructor was in our church’s youth band, and slowly but surely he began to let me play at least one song in the set of three. Then we started switching weeks: I played our three songs one week, and he did the next. Then he left for college; then I was the fulltime youth band drummer. Now, I’m not quite sure how this next part went, because it happened very suddenly: I began playing the drums for Sunday services. At first, the same as youth band, I only played a few songs, but soon I was doing the whole set. Soon, I would discover rhythm in not just the drums, but also in every day life.
It was like a fast, nervous heartbeat. The pounding of the wheels on the old rails actually matched the beat of my own heart. Thud, thud, thud, thud. The ancient roller coaster stretched up the steep slope; a tense rhythm sounded in my ears. We reached the peak, and began the decent down. The wheels on the rails grew louder, the beats grew faster, and screams were added to the mix. Thud, thud, thud, thud. The rhythm of the roller coaster held me in line, and also kept me from screaming.
The chime moved in the soft breeze; it began its own form of making music and of making rhythm. My worn shoes crunched on the nearly frozen snow. My feet and my head never really corresponded with each other. I didn’t have to think about matching the crunch of my feet to the small soft ding of the chime. I can find rhythm enough so that I don’t’ have to think to find it; I don’t have to think to do it. I believe we can find rhythm inside of us; we just have to open our eyes and ears to find it.
Serving others brings great happiness
By Leah Carlson
I believe in service to others above service to myself. “If you want to be happy for one hour, go watch television. If you want to be happy for one day, go to an amusement park. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, go serve others” (author unknown). A lifetime? A lifetime of service to others? From my experience, the people who live a life in service to others are the most happy and most joyful. Happy people, joyful people, care about the people around them and spend their time and resources serving.
As humans, we desire to be served. We do almost everything to better ourselves. Sometimes we even serve others to benefit ourselves. We pick up trash so we can write it on a résumé. We go to college so that some day we can serve ourselves with our degree. With this degree we will be able to make more money to buy the car we want, the house we want, the life we want.
Throughout my childhood I have been reminded that others need to come before myself. Serving others has been a theme for my family. I had the privilege of going to Mexico with my entire family to help build a church and an orphanage. I was young at the time, but it made a lasting impression on my life to see the needs of these people firsthand. It gave me a solid foundation and a desire to serve others, not only the poor and hurting in Mexico, but also the people I come in contact with everyday.
What does it mean to serve? Service above self is contrary to popular thinking. At school, a student with this attitude is not as concerned with how they look with friends, but with how they can make the lives of those around them easier, better, and happier. A young person with a servant’s heart can radically change an entire school culture.
However, putting service above self is not just a different way of thinking for students, but a different way of thinking for the entire world. In America, so much of what we hear is contrary to the idea of putting others ahead of ourselves. It is called the American Dream. It is selfishly motivated. It encourages a continuous, never-ending thirst to acquire material goods: fancy new cars, summer homes and large retirement accounts. This is happiness. Serve myself! More and more for me! Go on this cruise and that vacation!
Service above self teaches me that true happiness does not come by acquiring more and more things and experiencing more and more pleasures. I am only 18 years old but I have already begun to learn that it is in serving others above myself that we experience true happiness. I am just beginning to understand this, but already I have learned that a life dedicated to service above self is worth it.
It is worth my time when I see the smiles on my special needs campers’ faces at Solid Rock Bible Camp where I have been volunteering my time for several weeks during the summers. It is worth it when I see appreciation from a camper who I was able to serve who had a serious case of MRSA (a type of staph bacteria which is resistant to antibiotics). This needy girl taught me so much about the joy of serving others.
This camper did not seem to fit in with the other girls in our cabin. She did not dress like everyone else or talk like anyone else and she smelled differently. The girls in the cabin did not give her a chance. I decided that she was going to be my friend, and I was going to make her week at camp the most enjoyable experience. As I got to know her, I soon realized she seldom had the opportunity at home to be clean. I helped her by teaching her about personal hygiene. By serving her I found incredible joy watching her become happy. Giving myself to many young lives during the summers has been one way in which I have experienced firsthand the joy that comes when I put service to others above myself.
Our society believes in the pursuit of the American Dream. While commitment and desiring to excel is a good thing, it can also, if we are not careful, result in an attitude that says, “My sacrificing, commitment, goals and ambitions are more important than yours.” If I have this selfish attitude, then I cannot thoroughly enjoy another person’s accomplishments and successes. It is important for me to continuously remind myself that even campers with special needs have their own goals and dreams which are every bit as important as mine.
In the Bible, Jesus teaches us about putting service above ourselves. The Bible says that Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. He spoke contrary to culture: Do you want to be great? Be a servant! Do you want to be first? Be last! Do you want to find lasting treasure? Give away all you have! This radical way of living has influenced how I want to live my life.
Putting service to others above self is a radical way of thinking and it is different thinking than most of the world holds. It is like a salmon run where the fish are swimming upstream against the current. There are many different currents they could choose to take. The American current is shouting out: more for me, serve myself, more for me! Most of the salmon take this current, because it is easy. Am I strong enough to swim against the American Dream and embrace a different current that says: it is not all about me? It is not all about me! Am I willing to think differently and put service above self? My resounding answer is yes!
If you want to be a good leader, then serve. If you want to be different, then serve. Do not serve just so you look good. Do not serve for your own glory. Serve from your heart! Have a heart that is willing to give your life to others. Service above self is serving others even when things are hard and not pleasant. It is doing the dirty work that no one else wants to do.
I desire to be a registered nurse after I finish college. I get to pursue this dream next year as I will be attending Robert Morris University as a student in the nursing program. I cannot wait to be able to acquire the knowledge I need to serve the medical needs of others. For me, nursing is a profession where I will be able to help, support, and serve other people.
It brings me more joy to live a life of service, rather than a life for myself. A few summers ago I had the opportunity to go to an extremely poor village in Peru to help with a group of dental professionals. These people in this village had nothing but were always so joyful. They were so thankful for a glass of water, so thankful for a little rubber ball. Most of the people I met had servant hearts and even if they did not have anything, they were willing to share with you what little they did have. This was humbling to see and taught me a life lesson. It does not matter how much you have, but rather how much you value others.
A lifetime of service? Is this possible? As I was reading in my mother’s journal I found this quote by an unknown author, “It is the things we always hold that we will lose someday. The only things we ever keep are what we give away.” Serving others is a day-to-day, moment-by-moment decision that a person makes each morning when they wake up. Serving is possible, and it is how I want to spend the rest of my life. This is where true joy is found. I believe in serving others!