Prose, Grades 7 – 9: Honorable Mention

Control — Jonathan Cohen

If you could pick a world to live in, which one would you pick? Any
world you could possibly think of–from a game to a movie to your
imagination. I’d pick Minecraft, creative mode specifically. The
ability to control everything, build up your own world. No rules, you
can be an outlaw. You get a turn as God. See, the only time you can
really be in complete control of your life is in Minecraft. Control is
something I’ve always craved–not power over others, but power
over myself. Not being enslaved to someone else’s choices, or luck,
good or bad. Knowing it can be engraved on my gravestone: He
had control. But the problem is on earth that’s not the case. You
don’t have unlimited lives. You don’t have unlimited supplies. You
are far, far away on having complete control over your life. You start
to think of all the factors of your life that you do not decide– small
things that don’t matter, but then also big things, huge things.
Sometimes even dealing with life and death, meaning sometimes
there’s gonna be events with two possible outcomes, you living and
you dying–and you do not get to pick. Hit by a car, burning in a fire–
so many ways for life to go from a high point to a low point. Most of
them out of your control. I’m having an existential crisis writing this
poem. It’s the luck of the draw, and I for one hate luck. Life is a lottery,
and we’re all silently praying, whether we realize it or not, that our
number doesn’t get drawn. I hate this fact. People have gone through hell
because of this fact. It doesn’t even have to be at levels as horrible as
death for this fact to be terrifying. Millions of people experience the
down side of this every day–losing their job, losing a home, losing a
friend. All these issues that no one can change, pushing people further
and further towards rock bottom. Probably even a couple times you
and me. And that’s scary. It’s horrific that these things can happen to
people just by chance. All the control over your life you don’t have.
But it’s not that bad. I mean, it’s pretty bad, but there’s a bright side.
Another word I love and fortunately, unlike control, this one is always
at our disposal. Persuasion. Sure, the universe decides a lot of things.
And sure, often the universe doesn’t make the decision we’d like it to.
But the universe can be persuaded. Do your work, stay safe, etc. No, my
teachers did not bribe me to promote doing the right thing. I just think
it’s something everyone should be doing. And if you disagree with me,
then let me change your mind by saying this. Doing these things will
persuade the universe in your favor. Staying safe might prevent you from
being hit by that car. If you do your work, you stand a better chance of
keeping your job when the stocks go down and your company has to let
somebody go. Yes, the chances will never be 100% in your favor.
Somebody at that firm is going to have to be fired. But personally, I think
that a 50% chance is better than a 10% chance. No guarantee, but you
persuade the universe and it will listen, hearing your argument and
taking it into account. If life’s a lottery and control is the prize, then
persuasion is buying lots and lots of tickets. And always remember the
control you do have. Not even close to the amount that the universe has,
but it’s a fair amount. Always try to get as much control over yourself as
possible. It’s been proven to help keep your state of mind healthy and
help block out stress and anxiety. But never, never, ever, ever. I’m saying
this seriously and with a lot of force. Never take control from someone
else, not even if it benefits you. Because we all have that thirst for control.
Everyone has that sigh of relief when they’re told they get to choose if
they live or die. And if you start to think about the facts stated before, if
you ever start breaking down in terror, about how little control you have.
When it gets to the point that you can’t even think, take a few deep
breaths, calm yourself, relax yourself for a bit. And then play some Minecraft.