Question: Select a creative work– a novel, a film, a poem, a musical piece, a painting or another work of art– that has influenced the way you view the world and the way you view yourself. Discuss the work and its effect on you.

The way her overbearing wrinkles read of strain and unnecessary stress. The way a single blanket drapes across her arm, protecting her from nothing but a minor set of chills passing with the wind. The way her children shun any light from entering their weak eyes by hiding behind their mother’s scrupulous, yet broken back. The Migrant Mother by Dorthea Lange is a disheartening picture on the surface, but below its rough exterior it gives a new found hope. Because The Migrant Mother reveals issues that make society seem insignificant in perspective, a thought came upon me: the world is not always fair, it is not always kind, but it is the only world we have and we have to make the best with what it gives us.

Three years ago, if you were to show me this photograph, I would see it, but I wouldn’t fully understand it. Maybe because I didn’t truly understand art until recently when I found a hidden passion for it, or maybe because I was blind- too young and too naive to fathom the intermingled complication of the world spiraling beneath our feet. How could the world spinning so fast ever be so inferior to the struggles our society faces? A question I still cannot answer. When I saw the photograph, however, I was immediately drawn to it for the woman reminded me of myself in the sense that I had become independent. Though I cannot say I will ever have as much strength as that woman, I like to believe I have more strength and wisdom than some people twice my age. I have always been one to challenge everything, gaining my own independent opinion. Through the years, however, I created this wall, one which I sometimes wish to break down, but this wall, no matter how much I resent it, has unintentionally and irrevocably taught me to be pragmatic. Realism has it’s benefits in a world where we face realistic struggles everyday.

After seeing the photograph, I became inspired by the woman’s utter strength to continue, even after the world had placed such heavy weights on her shoulders. The real strength to me is not how many muscles you have, or how many trophies are displayed above your dresser, but it is the strength you have to face life head on. This photograph did, and still does, give me unforeseen hope. Though the woman still frowns, though her wrinkles are still evident, and though her children still look to her for shade from the world they face, I still feel this woman is courageous through it all. I believe she has a strength very hard to find: the strength of living on. To be honest, we all have it. If you are reading this, still inhaling air, you are a hero to me. What makes us strong, I realize, is accepting the world as the imperfect debris it is. It is, after all, the way her aqua eyes still show a flicker of hope. The way her hand reluctantly touches her face to support her for a moment preserved in time. The way her children tell her to continue through the struggles and pain because they are what makes life worth while. This is strength, this is inspiration: end of story.

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