In each of the texts we read for class the lives of the central characters are greatly impacted by those around them. The people in our everyday lives have the power to inspire, hurt, help, hinder and save us. This is something that as people we must not only recognize but utilize in our everyday lives.
In Phillis Levin’s “End of April,” the speaker of the poem is daydreaming about a lost love while sitting in a field. She comes upon a robin’s egg “broken, but not shattered” and compares it to her experience. There was once a bird inside of this egg but it could not stay there forever so it broke free leaving nothing behind but its shell. Like the bird, the speaker’s love is now physically gone. It lives on, however, inside of her heart, where “periodically,/ it opens up its wings,/ tearing [her] apart.” Although she can relate to the hollow shell, the ache of having her love torn from her frequently revisits her. The last two lines of the last two stanza rhyme to show how deeply imbedding this pain is within her heart. Without this pain, however, the poet would not have found the inspiration to write this poem. In essence, the experience she shared with her lost love has on one hand cause her great sorrow, but on the other allowed her to succeed with her profession.
Similarly, in Rudolfo A. Anaya’s short story “B. Traven Is Alive and Well in Cuernavaca,” the narrator is affected by the action of another person. He is searching for his next story and travels to Mexico, where he believes he will find it. This is best exemplified when he states: “Time in Mexico can be cruel and punishing, but it is never indifferent. It permeates everything, it changes reality.” Much time passes but the narrator has yet to find his story. Eventually he comes across the “jardinero” Justino. Justino is full of stories, but one story in particular captures the attention of the narrator. It is a story about adventure, evil, and stolen fortunes beyond imagination. When asked if he will accompany Justino to recover the stolen gold, the narrator resists, however. It is unclear why he never takes this journey but at the end the narrator realize that what has happened is the story. People like Justino are “the source of life.” They inspire adventure in all of us and it is the narrator’s job to tell their story to the world. They rely on each other to thrive.
In the Baltimore Sun article “Serving up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, the owners of the restaurant were also willing to allow themselves to be inspired by those around them. They recognized that they had good luck in their lives and felt obliged to give some of it back to those who have had some bad luck. Their café is a success and it is because of their faith in mankind that former drug users and convicts have a second chance at life. Conversely, because of the input that these people give to the owners, the café has been a hit. Just like in the short story, both types of people need each other to become successful.
In each of the readings we learn that that the old cliché holds true: “No man is an island.” Without the help and inspiration from those around us artists would not be able to create their art, whether it is culinary, literary, or otherwise. We are not alone on this earth. We must remember that the actions of others have the ability to affect us deeply. More importantly, we must remember that our own action as well also carry that same weight.