Exploring what it might mean to find “balance” or “harmony” in our lives is at the heart of the study we are making of Chinese ways of thinking and living. Here are some very interesting opening thoughts from the class.
I think the balance is you can’t have too much of one thing but you need a little bit of everything. You also need to have a back-up plan for your normal plan because you don’t know what’s ahead of you. Life is full of surprises, so whatever the world throws at you, you have to go through it with courage. Meshach
Your life shouldn’t be so dull and balanced [that it becomes] boring like a straight line. But it shouldn’t be too chaotic and erratic either. It should be up and down, with some scared moments and some happy ones. Sarafina
I think balance in life is not necessarily focusing on just one thing…. As humans, I think we don’t want chaotic lives but we don’t want perfectly sane ones either. Also we want a balance between work and play – we don’t want all-work-no-play lives, nor all-play-no-work ones, because we need balance in our lives. Archie
I think that balance in life means you can’t have ups without downs, or downs without ups. And not everything is perfect. I also think it means if you want something you have to fight for it instead of just getting it. For example, if you want a future job you can’t just say you want it but you have to work your way up to it. Myah
I don’t believe the way of living life is as simple as “balance.” My view is probably not to shape life into an equal, samey life but to let it flow. Sylvie
You can’t aim for one thing because life is unpredictable so you need other plans. You can’t always be angry, you need happiness as well. You can’t only look at your views, you have to look at the other person’s argument… You can’t only look at yourself, you need to realise there are other people, and that you have to learn and care about others as well as yourself. Gabriel
I think you need balance in life to have a happy life because you always need an opposite like fire and water – you need water to put out the fire. Ignas
To be healthy you need to be even in your mind and spirit. Faith
Everyone has a different balance because everyone likes and needs different things. Emily
The boys’ sililoquies have mostly not recorded well unfortunately – so here are just a few of them.
What have I become?
Have the three hags made me a monster? Nay, it was I who put the wicked forces upon me.
Will all the oceans clean me of this guilt?
No, but rather turn the sea incarnadine.
Blood begets blood: Duncan, now Macduff.
When will the noble blood stop spilling?
Even the throne does not b ring me happiness but instead melancholy.
Away Duncan! Away damn vision that haunts my eyes!
Life is but a candle melting away till the light goes.
It is not worth living.
What is happening to me?
Why have I slaughtered?
My veins are poisoned with desire to kill.
I was once a hero, then I committed treason.
My life is Scotland’s defeat.
Blood brings blood; why did I start this?
What’s done is done.
What have I turned into?
A great leader, loved and trusted by my men.
Now a shell of a man, diminished to king killer. My best friend, children, many innocent lives.
Taken because of my greed.
I am tortured by my deeds!
I don’t recognise the man I’ve become
These hands have become possessed. I have gone too far to be able to turn back.
What shall I be?
A killer of a warrior.
Forces of evil made me a king killer.
Will nothing get rid of the horror from my body?
Blood begets blood; first my king, then my friend, and then innocents.
The blood began to ooze into the river of my soul.
Is there no end to this slaughter?
This isn’t happiness; this is death.
What have I become?
Is this regret in my eyes?
Why must I cause this endless violence?
Lady Macbeth and myself are strangers
These hands will never be rid of the blood of a king and best friend.
Greed has got the better of me and I shall suffer the consequences.
These damned visions will die with me.
This is Gabriel’s story of his great uncle Gerry, who fought alongside one of the most famous generals in the British Army, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery (or “Monty” as he was nicknamed). Monty fought in a number of the most important battles in both world wars, in Europe and in Africa. You could see what you can find out about him before we discuss Gabriel’s story in class next week.
During the Second World War, Gerry was in the Eighth Army which fought in the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre. He fought under a famous general called Bernard Montgomery.
Gerry was very unlucky because he drove over a landmine and then was hit by artillery. He was very lucky to survive but lost an eye. He said that his mates were looking for his eye. He was very badly injured and his family didn’t know where he was for six months.
His life was never the same again and he was very self-conscious about the way he looked. He had tunnel vision in his eye and my mum couldn’t believe that he could legally drive a car. He needed help with house work and sometimes he had to chase the chickens out of the house! [Gabriel will have to say a little more about this last part of the story in class…]
Use independent learning to comment on your classmates’ writing. Remember that the main aim of this piece of writing was to capture some of the emotion of the man writing the letter.
Gabriel’s letter began, “I am writing this letter to you because of the monster called money. It always asks and wants, more and more, but we can’t keep it satisfied for much longer.” Do you think that makes an effective opening?
Nell uses dashes in the way we saw them used in The Silver Sword. “In my heart – deep, deep down – I know this is the right decision and I know we will meet again and have a happier life. A life where you, too, can be free.” How do you think this works?
Now, take a deep breath and read these extracts from the part of Sylvie’s letter where she really gets going. “… my heart throbs for you, my arms feel empty, my world feels dark and heavy, lined with sorrow….We must carry on this battle with fate, plough on through the murky waters of life and keep hope…. Our boat of joy, happiness and faith for the future has not sunk yet!”
And how about this from Emily: “I love you more than you could ever imagine – two jewels of hope on a horizon that has never seemed darker.” Another effective use of a dash too!