Teens Talk High School

Center Your LifeR6

Thomas Schonhardt

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.

—Henry David Thoreau

My sophomore year in high school, I discovered ceramics. I had always been interested in art, but too afraid of failure. It wasn't until after I had enrolled in ceramics that I would find a passion for it. I signed up for the course thinking it would be an easy grade. As the year progressed, I realized my potential. My teacher, Mr. Yoshida, always had words of encouragement.

We were taught to center our clay on the wheel. Centering our clay not only made the process of throwing, or the forming of a pot on the wheel, easier, it helped keep our product from being wobbly and unstable. I can remember one day having a hard time centering my clay and wanting to quit. Mr. Yoshida approached me and said, "Center your life." I thought to myself, "Yeah, that doesn't help." It wasn't until two years later that I found the true meaning behind this saying.

It was December and I was with some friends, drinking, hanging out, and just celebrating that it was winter break. It was then that I made the decision to drive home after drinking. I was pulled over, and the last thing I remember is seeing my parents crying at the sight of me with my head smashed up against the back window of the squad car. I was arrested for DUI, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a fake ID, and a few other charges. I was taken to jail and booked without hesitation. In jail, I had a lot of time to think and reflect on what I had done and how it was affecting not only me, but my family as well.

When I was released on bail, I went home. As I was about to lie in my bed, I saw a Bible with a note attached to it. The note was from my parents, saying they wanted me to read a few passages they had marked off. After reading the New Testament, I came to the conclusion that the drugs, sex, and alcohol were only a temporary form of happiness; once the high wore off, I wasn't happy. I was seeking happiness in all the wrong places. I wouldn't be totally happy until I was willing to accept God and devote my life to him. That is when it hit me. Mr. Yoshida's saying rang through my head like a church bell on a Sunday morning, "Center your life." He wasn't just speaking about ceramics; he was imparting a life lesson. Just like centering your clay stabilizes it and makes for a better product, until I could fully accept God as my center, I wouldn't be stable or happy with myself.

That night, I could not sleep. It was all so simple—why hadn't I thought of this before? I hadn't realized the power of the saying. I was so one-dimensional, I thought it only applied to the clay that was in front of me. As I tossed and turned, I realized that I was giving in to temptation. It was easy to get that temporary release and happiness, but true happiness is hard to come by. Even though giving into temptation may seem easy, I had to overcome temptation to "center my life." Three simple words were the entryway to the beginning of my new, better life.

I now look back and reflect on that dreadful early morning incident, but not in a negative way. I use my arrest as motivation and inspiration for young people, to show that good people do make mistakes. It's what you do afterwards that truly helps you "center your life."

(632 words)