Wednesday, October 14, 2015

[Memphis Reads 2015] Fresh Reads Top Ten Winner Christian Rue

What is the What
Christian Rue

The “What“ in the novel, What is the What can be interpreted in many different ways throughout Valentino’s life. The meaning of the What is the unsure possibility of what can possibly happen throughout one’s lifespan. It is the ability to choose what your life can be, even if the road taken is an unknown or dangerous path. This philosophy shows that the outcome of one’s life can be put into that individual’s hands and leave his or her fate to him. However, it takes a substantial amount of bravery to choose the unknown than the predictable outcome of a situation.

A significant part of the novel is the conversation between Valentino and his prosperous father about a story Valentino’s father once told him. It was about a decision a man had to make for God. He either had to choose the cattle or  “the What.”  The man pondered on what it could have possibly been, but decided to choose what is known instead of the unknown. While some people may agree with the safe route and choosing what is known, sometimes it is better to go out of one’s comfort zone and discover the unknown. Sometimes, it is easier said than done, because the results are uncertain, but the something better than anyone could expect could be the reward of choosing the What.

Another significant example how the What was symbolized was when Valentino and the rest of the runaways were walking through the forest at night and would constantly hear wild animals following them. Even at one point, lions would follow them in the middle of the night and kill them. At any point, they could’ve turned around and given up and chosen the option that was known to them, but they wanted a new and better life for themselves. They were willing to risk their lives in order to find their own version of the What.

A time when the What was experienced in my life was around my eighth grade year at St. Michael’s Middle School. I had to make a really tough decision on where to go to high school at the time. The three schools at the time were Christian Brothers High School, Saint Benedict at Auburndale, and White Station High School. I was so excited to be preparing for a new step in my life; I wanted to make a decision on where to go. My mom wanted me to go to Christian Brothers, but my grandmother wanted me to go to Saint Benedict due to how close it was to where we lived. My mother was not too keen on White Station, because I had never gone to public school before and she wasn’t sure how well I could handle it. She also told me that if I wasn’t admitted in the schools optional program, I could not attend. It was an easy process to apply for the optional program, but the only thing I could do was wait and see the results.

After a couple of weeks, I received a letter stating that I had been admitted into White Station. It was an exciting moment, because it is so selective.  After being selected, I realized that is where I desired to attend next fall. I wanted to try something new and experience a new environment outside of my comfort zone and was ready for the challenge. I told my mom where I wanted to go and why and she eventually conceded with help from my Dad.

This decision turned out to be one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. The work was really challenging. I had teachers that genuinely knew and wanted to help me improve to a higher level of learning. Most importantly, I made plenty of friends and experienced a whole new level of social interaction while learning at a high level. This taught me to never be afraid of the unknown, because it can turn out greater than what could already be known.

--Christian Rue

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