SENIORS, SIGNING OFF: Is there anything In the world that could be worse than physical pain?

Every year, graduating seniors on The Octagon write a final piece to say goodbye to Country Day. This is one of nine pieces by the class of ’22.

The same set of fifty-some 5-foot tall rectangular gym mats has followed me throughout my entire childhood. Fourteen years ago, I first saw them. Black and red paneled with a width no more than a few inches, even less when spread out. They were there the first time the wind got knocked out of me, the first time a tooth was kicked out of my mouth and every moment in between. 

So, as the fully expanded pad comes hurtling at me, thrown from close proximity, I only see a six year-old-me, with no dodgeballs left to throw, filled with terror, or the 10-year-old me, with most of my blood already rushed to my head, repeatedly falling out of a headstand while using a look-alike cushion for support.

I blink back to reality, yet I realize it’s too late to move out of the way, and the pad strikes me in the dead center of my neck. I feel like I’ve swallowed hot coals as a sharp, warm pain washes over my neck. An uncontrollable cough emerges, initiating the coals’ transformation as I rush to the trash can. And like a magic trick, a blended version of my lunch appears.

What I find most interesting about this story, rather than its uncomfortable ending, is its similarity to my writing process. 

As I pace around my house, back and forth and back and forth, my mind becomes a blank canvas open to possibility. So when I center upon my first structured point, ideas, memories and flashbacks begin racing through my head, vying for my attention until BAM, it hits me. I rush to my computer and regurgitate my possible ideas onto the page, repeating the process until I have established all of my topics.

However, this writing process produces a controversial result that directly contrasts a core principle of journalism, conciseness. Although some only consider news as journalism, so my unending tangents in reviews may be off the hook. But as one reader most eloquently put it, “this is all bad. You should just delete it all. I’m never reading one of these again.”

Maybe they have a point; perhaps this whole article is just fluff. Or perhaps it’s an attempt at an allegory for the pain of saying goodbye. If you have already read one of my articles and are reading this, maybe it’s not going as poorly as it seems.

In response to the quote, “Nothing in the world was so bad as physical pain,” from the novel 1984 by George Orwell: my neck still hurts, but the goodbye hurts a whole hell of a lot more.

— By Dylan Margolis

Originally published in the May 24 edition of The Octagon.

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