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The Traveler

Alex Schrader

     The Mekong River is one of the most spectacular places in Asia. When that azure sun dips below the horizon and that cool river breeze tingles across your back, you can understand what motivated Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Lost World.  So inspiring are the sunsets that the first time I saw it, I failed to see a pair of round, curious eyeballs gliding quietly beside my boat. My focus became even clearer when the eyes dilated. I clenched my wooden oar (as if to swing) and locked eyes with the creature.
     I did not blink…
     Not once, you understand. Blinking to a predator is cause for confrontation. Neither of us had the will to act, so we quietly watched the sunset together, a lost drifter and an at-home, saltwater crocodile. He flashed a toothy grin, then disappeared into the murky waters.
     I sighed… lucky me. I was not so lucky when I was in school. I failed to realize where I was and to take note of my surroundings. For some, High School can be a jungle, not unlike the Mekong, full of predators, dead-ends and booby traps.
     Tattoo this behind your eyelids: You are what you consume. If you eat a burger once a day and you’re bouncing off the walls: cut the burger. If you’re jumpy or hyperactive, simply add up the number of Cokes and flavored waters you drink in a day and cut it in half. See if you’re jumpy or hyperactive or have sweaty hands in a few weeks. If you’re full of pent up frustration and insomnia after listening to throbbing hip-hop: play softer music. Don’t spend too much time on social media, either. It can make you lazy and voyeuristic. Get as much sleep as you can, trust me. You will have plenty of time to party into the wee hours after graduation. But more importantly, you’ll notice you’re happier. Sleep is how the body repairs itself. You put it through a lot every day. It really needs it and your skin will love you for it.
     Don’t waste your time trying to impress a teacher unless you know for certain you can use them for something, like getting an internship, a part-time job or a letter of recommendation. If your teacher is always criticizing you or picking you last… find another teacher to help you.
     Last but not least, computers are your family. They are the only thing that will do everything you ask. I encourage you to play as many games as you can, study and experience virtual reality as much as you can, learn to program if you can, trade cryptocurrencies, create a blog or a podcast for your fellow students and direct them all to a website of your creation. As you build a track record, future colleges and employers will do their research of you online. Remember, theatricality is a powerful tool in swaying the minds of those outside your inner circle. With each and every step, it will enable you to become the master of your territory.