Tuesday, November 27, 2018

November Ravioli

The weather for sweaters and warm apple cider is finally upon us. We are finishing our third month of school, where we fall into the awkward weeks just before the winter break. Teachers begin to ramble on with the loose ends of every project and unit. However, the writings for this month seem to address important matters, such as the acceptance of society, the beauty of nature, and most importantly – the matters of ravioli.  

Artwork by Jason R., Grade 9

On Ravioli and the Meaning of Life

Almost everything on Earth is technically ravioli.
I don’t mean in that almost everything falls under the traditional definition of ravioli, of course, because only a very small percentage of things in existence technically do. Most objects in the world are not actually “small pasta envelopes containing ground meat, cheese, or vegetables.”
I simply mean that people have taken the definition of said pasta dish and twisted and altered it until it is nearly unrecognizable from the original. Recipes for items like dessert ravioli -- which contains no pasta, ground meat, cheese, or vegetables whatsoever -- are popular, and that’s only the beginning. Nowadays, just about anything with a somewhat carb-based outside and a filling inside can be considered ravioli. It’s been a long time since everyone on the internet unanimously decided that dumplings were ravioli, and that same sentiment has since been extended to Pop Tarts, empanadas, Hot Pockets, and more.
This obviously begs a single, extremely important question: Where does it end? Are there any limits to what can and can’t be considered ravioli? Who’s to stop us from saying that the definition extends to anything that has something else inside of it? In that case, isn’t a drawer ravioli? A building? Aren’t all human beings technically skin ravioli with an organ-and-bone filling?
Once we reject the actual definition of something, are there any guidelines at all? What if we all collectively decided that anything even remotely small and soft was a hamster? Would there be anything left to distinguish hamsters from chihuahuas, or throw pillows, or dishtowels? It would be chaos.
Our collective voice is a powerful thing. Enough of us can completely overthrow any definition or rule that we want to, simply by agreeing and taking action. This is amazing and can be used as a force for good – young people all over the world are doing unbelievable things just by using their voices. It’s also incredibly dangerous, though, because we as humans can be unbelievably stupid sometimes, and are proven to make worse decisions when we’re in a crowd. We can’t be trusted to govern ourselves when we think a clothes hamper is ravioli.
The terrifying part is, we don’t have a choice. None of us asked to exist on this blue planet hurtling through nothingness at breakneck speed, but we do. And since we’re here, and no one gave us any instructions, we try to make sense of everything by creating rules and definitions. We’re terrified, so we try to find meaningful order in meaningless chaos. In our minds, we may know nothing about who we are or why we exist, but as least we know the difference between a tree and rock. They each have their own definitions. It makes sense.
The problem comes about when we start to change those definitions. If enough of us agreed on it, we could come up with some crazy reasoning for why a rock is actually a type of tree. We’re good at defending ridiculous arguments. And once we no longer know something as basic as the difference between a tree and a rock, do we really know anything at all? Once we consider a grocery bag "ravioli" are we any better than the cavemen who didn’t even have words to define anything? Is our entire language then meaningless?
It may be really depressing to think about the idiocy of humankind and how we have no reason to exist, but it shouldn’t be. After all, we may not be here for some greater purpose, but at least we’re here. We may not live in a world with meaning, but we do live in a world with garlic bread, teacup pugs, and Broadway musicals. People may not know the difference between couch cushions and ravioli, but who cares? At least we still have couch cushions to sit on and ravioli to eat.
The meaning of life is what you make it. It doesn’t matter if you accomplish “amazing things” or not, as long as you’re kind to other people, care at least marginally about improving the world around you, and most importantly, have a good time. If calling yourself a piece of ravioli makes you happy, then drench yourself in marinara sauce. After all, if you can be a piece of a ravioli, then you can easily be a singer, or actor, or president, or whatever else you want to be. If you can be a piece of ravioli, then anything is possible.
We search for a meaning that’s been written out for us by creating definitions and rules, then we drive ourselves crazy trying to follow them. All we really need to do is just accept that not everything in life fits perfectly into neat little boxes, and that sometimes, we just need to take a deep breath and accept that a Pop Tart can be considered ravioli. Only when we accept that life is meaningless chaos can we truly be happy. After all, happiness is the real meaning of life. As long as we’re having a good time, that’s all that matters.
When enough people agree, we can do amazing things.  We can also make some ridiculous decisions. Of course, it’s worth it to fight those decisions if they’re harmful or unfair, but sometimes they’re not either one – they’re just weird. When that happens, we can’t get too upset, or we’ll never learn to find peace in our insane world. We just have to let go of the rocks and allow ourselves to be swept up in the current of crazy.
So yeah, almost everything on Earth is technically ravioli.

by Cara S., Grade 9

Artwork by Ilene S., Grade 9

The Garden of Eden

Of vast oceans blue,
I’ve dreamt a few.
For a world borne wholly anew,
Yet painted by the hands of each iridescent view.

Where the stars do cry,
None’ll stand idly by.
As in the words we dare confide
Shall forever bleed hearts that bide.

And by the blood of every rose,
Will lay mark to every nose.
Herein those symphonies we lie,
Each note honored with pride.

Where the land kisses the sea,
All shall bend down and see,
Through the grains beneath their feet,
Difference makes complete.

In the land of vast oceans blue,
I’ll bid adieu.
None the wiser should I not follow through,
For dreams are what we must live up to.

by Aaron G., Grade 9

Artwork by Mysterious Coffeehouse Artist
Is it you?  Email Mr. Vogelsinger to claim credit!