A Garden in the State of California

I am outside near my lemon tree. Sunlight shines upon my body. I express gratitude for
having Vitamin D flow through my veins. I breathe air to survive as well as thrive. I walk on the grass, and feel the Earth beneath my feet. I am getting older, but I experience peaceful tranquility inside my backyard. I like to water my lawn to keep my garden green. Robert Frost believed that nothing gold can stay, but I say that we can still be green. I really am who I am, and I love my home. The real world is not “La La Land,” but I am lucky to live near places featured in the film La La Land.



“How does a moment last forever?”  Celine Dion asked this question in the 2017 live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.  Ever since I was born the same year that the original animated version was released, I had to cope with the numerous challenges that life has to offer.  I have failed classes when I was a child, lost people that I have loved, and I am in many ways “a single man” (and the novel by Christopher Isherwood is also one of the favorite pieces of writing).  Nevertheless, the one thing that I believe sustains throughout life is change (because change must happen in order for life to continue onward).

Sometimes I feel like Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations because I have repeatedly dwelled on mistakes that I cannot change while feeling nostalgic about my undergraduate career before officially obtaining my Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University—Los Angeles in 2015.  I had to learn over time that I will inevitably lose people that I love, and that I have to continue traveling forward in time since I can never go back to the past and make changes to it.  Heraclitus was actually a profound man from Ancient Greece since he taught me that change is the only constant.  I would suppose that “what sustains” is the present moment.  That is because whatever I am doing now will pave the path of where I am going in life in order to be myself and not what others want me to be.  I can only control myself, and in many ways that is a blessing because I have an entire life to live since I am who I am.


Being True to My Heart

Being able to cope with adversity is a mark of maturity.  Facing challenges instead of complaining about them allows people to advance personally, and develop into more fully-realized individuals.  In contrast to supposedly mature adults, I still struggle with utilizing coping skills when I am stressed.  My ability to overcome adversity might not be the best, but I still learn to accept this character flaw.  The one trait that I possess to help myself overcome adversity is to simply accept the consequences of my actions.

A lot of my problems involve both my own personal behavioral issues, and the mistakes that I had made in the past.  For example, I would sometimes engage in reckless behavior about a minor mistake that had happened years ago.  My negative thought patterns would consist of catastrophizing minor issues, such as missing a bus, and then placing a mental burden upon myself with unpleasant memories about issues that had occurred long ago.  The feelings of anger and resentment would then sometimes result in me engaging in reckless behavior.  I must confess that I struggle with controlling my emotions, but I am getting better at managing stress in healthy ways instead of becoming violent.  My behavioral therapists have been proud of me for the simple fact that my use of coping skills have improved over time, all of which resulted in me being happy, productive, and most importantly, not destructive, for almost three years.  

I must also admit that I still have trouble learning how to let go of the past.  However, it is through the acceptance of this flaw that I have that helps me understand who I am as a person.  I often times allow negative thoughts and feelings of resentment challenge my ability to live in the moment.  I still have trouble with managing my emotions, but I also remind myself that these negative feelings are all within my head.  A strategy I like to employ in order to deal with such intrusive thoughts is to distract my mind with pleasant things, like teddy bears and big books.  I find it humorous that my happy place is an English class while other people might regard Disneyland as the happiest place on Earth.  It is through my quirky personality that I help define myself as a person instead of modeling myself after paragons that are ultimately too perfect to emulate.

With my acceptance of the past, I plan to contribute to society by simply being myself.  I already know that I am not the greatest writer in the world, and I am fully aware that I might never be as brilliant as people like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.  Nevertheless, I had to learn over time that I am not a perfect human being.  Interestingly, my flaws actually make me perfect because I make mistakes just like everyone else.  Ultimately, I can only contribute to society by simply being myself instead of trying to become someone who does not accurately describe who I truly am.



The contrast between the eastern and western ideas in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India reveals the tension that exists between those two types of people, and suggests that all people are fundamentally human in spite of the differences that attempt to separate both the colonizer and the colonized.  Chandrapore is an important city because it is actually extraordinary even though E.M. Forster asserts the opposite.  The city itself reveals the juxtaposition between English culture and the foreign nature of India.  The city also shares different territories underneath the boundless sky to suggest that people are fundamentally human even as culture attempts to both classify and separate them.  More importantly, the climax takes place in a courtroom in Chandrapore, in which Adela Quested confesses her mistake, and experiences tragic recognition.  The tension that exists between the English and the Indians also increases as Miss Quested reveals that truth, which suggests that the English are only powerful superficially because all people, including the English and the Indians, are prone to error.  Chandrapore is essentially a city that represents human civilization, and how everyone is human in spite of the misunderstandings that exist between people.


Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015.  He was a former Statement Magazine editor who currently writes about literature, film, and culture.  He has written film reviews for more than one hundred motion pictures for MovieBoozer, and his writing has appeared both online and in print.  Alex is a writer who dares to support the ones who pursue their dreams.

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