It Is Enough
“The Flea” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and “I Wandered Lonely as a Child” by William Wordsworth are three readings that all have one theme in common. The theme is appreciating what we are given for what it is, and not to search for something better. My recent experience with meditation has allowed me to open my mind completely and to truly understand what it really means to appreciate what I have.
In the story “The Flea” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author examines a man and his beautiful wife, and a birthmark that severely strains their relationship. Aylmer believes his wife Georgina is perfect; except for the red, hand-shaped birthmark present on her left cheek. To him, her birthmark represents sin and mortality, and he believes that it takes away from her beauty. Instead of appreciating his wife’s birthmark that very well may make her beautiful, he allows the topic to eat away at him, and unfortunately his bitterness gets in the way. He says, “Aylmer says, “Georgina, has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?”(467). He does not appreciate his wife for the natural beauty she possess, and he continuously finds himself obsessing over something so dismal while trying to find a way he can remove her imperfection. He ends up losing his beloved wife to this obsession of his over her birthmark. He did not appreciate the present moments he had with Georgina, and now his future will be without her. Rather than loving Georgina for who she is, he tries so hard to change the one thing that allows to be herself.
In the story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the speaker is presented as someone who, like Aylmer in “The Flea”, becomes obsessed with something so simple. The wallpaper is something in the house that she enjoys. There is something about the wallpaper that she likes. At first, she appreciates the wallpaper for what it is because it is unlike anything she has seen before. It fascinates her, and it makes her excited. But like Aylmer in “The Flea”, she is consumed in a topic, and eventually it gets the best of her. She ultimately destroyes what makes her happy and amazed. In fact, the yellow wallpaper actually helps her. She says, “Life is very much more exciting now than it used to be. You see, I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was”(395). Her obsession takes over her life, and once she was involved it seemed there was no way to get out. The speaker can’t appreciate the wallpaper for what it is and for what it is worth. She has to analyze it and understand it for herself so much to a point where it destroys her and makes her, for lack of a better word, insane.
The poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth exhibits a character who peacefully drifts into what seems like his “happy place” when he feels empty or a bit sad. He says, “For oft, when on my couch I lie/In vacant or in pensive mood,/They flash upon that inward eye/Which is the bliss of solitude;/And then my heart with pleasure fills,/And dances with the daffodils.” The speaker takes us to a place where he goes when he feels down. It is a place he appreciates because of its beauty and calmness. It is also a place he feels safe, and happy. He is taking a step back from reality and taking a journey to a place he truly loves. Out of all the things the speaker could do because of his sadness, he chooses to lay on his couch and imagine himself in a place that makes him joyful. He does not try to change himself or anyone else. He simply drifts off into a daydream to forget his sadness and pain. Unlike Aylmer in “The Flea” and the speaker in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, he chooses to respect and treasure what he appreciates. The speaker shows that when we take time to appreciate special things in our lives, it can take us to a place where we enjoy to the fullest.
On Tuesday evening, I attended the Zen Meditation session. That night I embarked on an unusual yet incredible experience. Meditation proved to be a struggle. Three months ago I had my second knee surgery in less than a year. Bending my left leg in the positions required was certainly a challenge. In my head, for twenty-five minutes, I continuously told myself, “I really can’t do this”. Meditation is meant to be peaceful and calm, but I was the opposite. I decided to do my best to be calm. I tried to clear my head. After about five minutes, I could feel myself rocking back and forth because I was completely relaxed and at peace. My experience at the meditation session relates to the three readings because after experiencing the first few weeks of college I can honestly say that I am stressed and swamped with work. There is always something in our lives causing conflict; whether it is our health, school, friends, etc. I constantly find myself obsessing over homework, my social life, and a million other things. Meditating that evening took me to a place, similar to the one William Wordsworth took us to, and gave me an opportunity to take a step out of my crazy life and focus on absolutely nothing. It also allowed me to appreciate my hour of having to do nothing. More importantly, after meditating, I felt lucky that I have so much work and so many obligations because I am thankful that I am being given the opportunity to receive a Jesuit education that enforces such important values and morals. Similar to the speaker in Wordsworth’s poem, I was able to find a happier, more appreciative Kristyn. But unlike, Aylmer and the speaker of “The Yellow Wallpaper”, I found a way to take what I worry and obsess about most, and put it aside while I take a moment to appreciate what I am given. The title “It Is Enough” is a good title for this analysis because what we I have is enough. And sometimes, naturally as human beings, we get sucked into the idea that we need more. Instead, we need to find that point and limit where we give up the things we want, and give it to those who are in need. Not everyone is as blessed so it is important I to appreciate what we have now and what we have been given because one day everything we know could fade away.