Life

Humankind is quite a unique species. We as people change over time, yet we do not truly change who we are at our core. We are somewhat, in essence, oxymoronic. This paradoxical nature about us is puzzling to think about – especially in regards to how we live our daily lives. However, that is not the point. We as people have the amazing ability to exist. We represent real, intelligent life. Putting religious or non-religious beliefs aside for a second, we all exist no matter which way our race has debated about it. We are lucky to be here.

To say my hometown community has been through a lot recently would be a dramatic understatement. In the span of a month and a half, my community has lost two great young men. I knew both of them personally. Both were teammates of mine in high school and I also graduated with one of them. Everybody deals with their emotions and issues in different ways. I am usually a reserved person, so when I’m not with my fiance, Katelyn (whom also lost a high school friend at a young age), I usually deal with my issues and emotions best through an internal avenue, which would be writing in this case.

As of right now, I am 24 and a half years old. I have been out of high school for six years. Even though I had not seen either person for years, hearing of their passing was a bit of a gut punch. Just being in attendance for both of their funerals to pay my respect and seeing the many people that have been impacted by both of their lives was bittersweet. Both families did an incredible job at both funerals with the handling of them in an incredibly rough time in their lives.

A few years ago I was dealing with a small issue in my personal life and decided that I could no longer withhold it from people. I wrote an article on my blog regarding my thoughts on that issue that was met with mixed response. My slightly misleading title was: “Why I Don’t Like Most People.” Yikes. I followed up on that article last year in another article (this time for Odyssey), titled “Change,” which dealt with the problems I have always had with change in general.

As I write this now, I realize the error of my ways. I have been reflecting a lot recently about my life in the past, present, and future. I have looked back on certain events and moments in my past with both guys, such as playing sports together, that I have quite enjoyed. When you spend so much time growing up with a group of people, a certain kind of bond develops and is sustained even years after the fact. In addition, I have also looked back on other moments in my past and regretted how I handled them. The original article is only a small part of that. There have been plenty of moments with multiple people from my past that I can confidently look back on and call myself a name with a bad connotation (I’ll let you fill in the blank). More often than not my previous experiences that I regret have turned people away from me and only made my “issue” worse than it was initially. Way to go, Daryn.

The past few months have almost entirely changed my perspective on how I view life. One of my unofficial New Year’s resolutions is to not get so upset and irate about things I cannot control. Losing two high school friends so young in their life has helped and hurt that resolution. In some ways, it makes me care less about whether a particular sports team won or whether or not a movie is any good. People are so much more important. In other ways, it seriously brings into question the ultimate one word question: why? When I think about losing people I would call friends at such a young age, it kind of leaves an empty feeling inside. I believe we all have that feeling regardless, but events like this make that empty feeling feel a little bigger and linger a little longer. It also makes me realize that this can happen to anyone and how lucky we really are to be here.

Things happen. Life moves on. Sometimes it is awesome, like that Stefon Diggs touchdown to beat the Saints. Other times, it kind of sucks – or really sucks. If there is any consolation or positive to come out of these tragedies, it is that it has brought many of us back together again to celebrate the lives of those lost and to get up to speed with those of us still here. I wish we could all come to terms with this notion, or at least myself, in a better way that does not involve tragedy, but as my dad always says: “it is what it is.”

Everyone deals with their own issues in their personal lives, no matter what walk of life we come from. I do not care how tough of a person you think you are; if you need help, get yourself the help you need. There is no shame in seeking assistance from an outside source. I have done so for many years. Even if we do not talk or communicate very often, I still want you around and to be happy – even if we are not in each other’s lives like we once used to. Running into the people I have recently truly makes me want to re-connect more with people I have not done so with in years, but like I said, all I really want is for everyone to be alive and happy. And if you do want to reach out and communicate with me – even if we have never really met or talked much before – I am not too difficult to contact (and I’ll try really hard not to be a potential expletive this time).

Be supportive and thankful for those around you, don’t be afraid to reach out to and help someone (even if nothing appears wrong), and do not take for granted the moments you spend with them. As the recent events in my community have indicated, we never really know when the end is near.

I would like to personally thank you for taking the time to read this long post and, as always, have yourself a wonderful day. As Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) once said in the movie, Bruce Almighty: “be the miracle.”

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13 Reasons Why: Season 1 Review

Some television shows exist to provide comedy, while some others exist to provide action and entertainment. Left hiding in the shadows are a select few that have a strong message and purpose, such as 13 Reasons Why. This wildly popular Netflix-original show (produced by Selena Gomez) is one that leaves its mark on viewers and is created with such fervor that it rivals other top shows.

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The premise of the show revolves around high school sophomore / junior Clay Jensen discovering a set of tapes on his doorstep addressed to him. He is in for a surprise when he finds out that they were made by his classmate, co-worker, and friend, Hannah Baker, just before committing suicide. Each tape is about a specific person that is, in a way, responsible for Baker’s death and is filled with instructions and information related to that event. As Jensen starts listening to the tapes, he recognizes that others have listened to them before he had (each person passes the tapes along to the next person in the order of who is featured on which tape). Unfortunately for Jensen, the others do not want this information getting out and will do whatever is necessary to keep Jensen quiet.

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My favorite part of this 13-episode arc is the way in which it is written and directed. Every episode is sharp with transitions, misdirections, and misdirections of misdirections. The depth within the dialogue and what / who is in the shot reveals not just what is being spoken, but also conveys that information to what or who is being shown. Plus, the interweaving narrative of Baker’s retelling on the tapes combined with Jensen hearing the tapes in the present day is handled extremely well. The lighting in the past utilizes warmer colors while the present features darker illumination to further demonstrate the different feelings of before and after the death of Baker. It is not something new, but works well in the context of how it is used.

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The characters in 13 Reasons Why are, thankfully, not clichéd or stereotyped. They are unique in their own ways and are all well-developed. You know the writing is tremendous when we feel for a character that most probably could not stand in previous episodes. The entire purpose of the show is to demonstrate that every person is going through or dealing with something in their lives. The writers take the time in every episode to explore the different characters associated with Baker’s life. One might state that it might be a little too convenient for the plot to explore characterization through the tapes, but it is done in a way that ups the suspense and mystery – which makes the viewer want to know more, so in my mind it furthers the plot in an engaging way.

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There is no way to avoid the potential danger that accompanies this show. I realize that every episode begins with the warning and encourages troubled individuals to reach out, but with a television show that is centered on a likable female protagonist that puts so much thought into committing suicide and making tapes for those responsible to listen to afterwards, it could encourage those watching that are troubled to make a bad decision. I hope the show helps those in need to discover that suicide is never the right option and there is always a way through the dark times.

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There are also some dark, graphic, and violent moments peppered throughout the show that might not be best suited for the faint-of-heart. It is powerful, but could be too much for some to handle. As they say: viewer discretion is advised.

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At the end of the day, 13 Reasons Why is not only top-notch, but incredibly important due to the subject matter. While at first I was not sure how a TV-MA rating would coincide with a show based on a novel targeted for high school kids, it is clear that it is handled in the best way it possibly could. The acting is almost always on-point and combination of direction and writing is nearly masterful. I cannot wait for what the next season will unveil.

Grade: A

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13 Reasons Why features creator Brian Yorkey based on the novel by Jay Asher. The series entails directors Gregg Arraki, Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Carl Franklin, Tom McCarthy, Helen Shaver, and Jessica Yu and writers Nic Sheff, Thomas Higgins, Elizabeth Benjamin, Diana Son, Nathan Jackson, Nathan Louis Jackson, Kirk A. Moore, and Hayley Tyler. The show stars Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, and Miles Heizer. 13 Reasons Why is produced by July Moon Productions, Kicked to the Curb Productions, Anonymous Content, and Paramount Television. Season 2 is expected to arrive on Netflix in 2018.

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