Wilton Warrior Words — Life’s a Book

Madeline Pennino

Madeline Pennino

Hearst Connecticut Media

As a junior, I remember seniors warning me of the emotionally overwhelming year to come. I remember them explaining how the simplest tasks could turn into mind-boggling realizations that your childhood was coming to a close. My junior year self did not doubt the seniors’ warning, she simply underestimated its truth.

The night of Oct. 1 was a quintessential example of sporadic, poignant breakdowns, however it was less emotional and more philosophical.

That particular evening, I sat at my desk writing “Thank You” cards to my two dear English teachers for writing my college letters of recommendation. Before long, this customarily heartfelt letter of gratitude accidentally transitioned into a much deeper train of thought, and personal revelation.

When I first began the letters, I had severe writer’s block, (perfect timing, of course). To distract myself, I thought of my time in their classes, and for some unknown reason, I remembered how we thoroughly dissected each chapter of Tim O’Brien’s, “The Things They Carried,” so that once we finished, we were able to string the chapters in chronological order instead of the narrator’s methodical order.

I then thought of how each chapter represented a part of Tim O’Brien’s life coming to an end, followed by the beginning of a new stage of his life. O’Brien was constantly peeling away a layer of innocence, resulting in a greater understanding of himself and how he fits into the world.

I thought of how my teachers won’t be with me wherever it is that I am going next year. I thought of how much I rely on them now and throughout my high school career. My English teachers have contributed so many pages to this first chapter of mine. Is it possible that their role in my book is potentially coming to an end?

My thoughts continued. I have no way of knowing if they will physically be a part of my next chapter, but in a different sense, they will be there.

If there is anything anyone can take away from reading, it is that every chapter serves a purpose no matter how redundant, or trivial the material seems at the time. The information always carries from one chapter to the next, providing deeper meaning and understanding to new obstacles faced in the chapters to come.

My English teachers’ wisdom, guidance, and role in my life is thoroughly recorded in Chapter 1: “Childhood.” Though they may not be in Chapter 2, I can refer back to them both whenever I want or need to. I can use all that they taught me every time I put pen to paper, and I can share the importance of their role in my life to friends and family to come.

Lastly, I reflect on how grateful I am to have people such as my English teachers in my Book of Life.

As I anxiously anticipate entering the “real world,” I gratefully acknowledge that it is my teachers, family, friends and community that have shaped me into the curious and passionate young woman that I am today.

Madeline Pennino is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with three classmates.