Life: a Whirligig Iman Khan

"Starry Night" by Vincent Van Gogh


Whirligig by Paul Fleischman is a novel that underlines numerous themes, including those of stereotypes, journeys, harmony, and forgiveness. Each of these themes are immensely important to life; I daresay I have quite a bit of experience with all of them. This presentation presents my major personal experiences with these themes, and includes pieces of art that I not only hold close to my heart, but I feel connects with the themes themselves. As for the content, I intend to hold nothing back- everything I say will be deeply personal and no embellishment will be found.


Stereotypes- we all know that they're a big problem in society. Especially nowadays, religion, race, gender, and sexual orientation are often preyed upon in everyday life. We've all heard the customary insult, "You're gay!" from the common middle school boy, as well as the rhetoric about all muslims being secret terrorists. Stereotypes will always be a part of life; however, we should try to not perpetuate them.

"Wrapped in Mystery" by Nabih Safadi


I have had many experiences with stereotypes; however, I won't go as far to say that they've affected me. Mostly, I've experienced stereotypes about being Muslim or about being a girl, and especially stereotypes about being a Muslim girl. Many people tend to think that I'm oppresesed or that I'm extremely smart, neither of which is true. However, I shouldn't continue to avoid blame for believing stereotypes; I have perpetuated quite a few of them myself. For example, whenever I go to a certain setting, I avoid people like me: people of a southeastern Asian heritage(Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, etc.). I've been told that this is because I want to be different from the "regular Indian girl"- but then that implies that I believe the stereotype, which I have to admit is true. In saying this I realize that I have to work more on myself, as well as correct those who perpetuate other stereotypes.

"Baduism" by Noe Two


Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Life is a journey, not a destination." So in essence, basically everything we do is a part of a big journey, and the destination is, inevitably, death. There are also many other journeys that are part of the big journey of life, and these journeys are often what shapes us into the people that we are. We should try to enjoy these journeys in life, as they are all only temporary- meaning that even if they are bad, they'll end one way or another. Some journeys are good, and some are bad, but they all make up life, and we should try to live our lives to the fullest and make the most of our journeys.

"Unknown" by Ross Tran


I've had many good and many bad journeys in my life. In my life, the biggest journey so far has been moving from my home in one city to a house in another one. This journey was very hard for me- it changed almost every aspect of my life other than the presence of my family. I would've hated my parents had they done it for any other reason than what they did it for. They did it because of our autistic brother; he wasn't getting any better and he needed a good school to go to. Honestly, I had to say that I hated him sometimes. But I mostly just had to use radical acceptance and was resigned to the fact that if I didn't feel anything other than generosity for my brother, I was a bad person. This experience changed me immeasurably; I began to have a greater range of thoughts and emotions than I had previously ever had. So overall, this journey was bad in some aspects; but I believe it changed me for the better, as I became more accepting to others.

"Flight" by Anna Dittmann


Harmony, as we learned in the book, is essential to achieving peace within life. However, the world is generally not harmonious- chaos rages in many places, like Syria and Afghanistan. These types of conflicts are almost impossible to resolve if we are merely common people, so there is practically nothing that I could do. In seeing this, one would try to influence things that they can change because our day-to-day conflicts are (mostly) very easy to resolve. Loud families, angry siblings, and crying babies are a just a few things that bother many people (including myself). These insignificant things can be easily changed- for example, you could wear earbuds or go to another place for the sensation of peace and quiet. The important thing to remember is that the world will never be truly harmonious, but there are certain steps that we can take to quell the chaos in our own lives.

"Unknown" by Sachin Teng


I'm not going to lie, my family is not the best at achieving harmony. My brother, being autistic, has tantrums very, very often and has mastered the art of screeching; my parents fight on a regular basis, and my sister is not the kindest person to meet. Not only that, but families that we are close to often come and stay over- which I would be fine with had they not brought their babies along. Basically, my life is pretty chaotic, but I have strategies to block the chaos. I generally stay in my room as much as I can and rarely provoke anyone in the house. However, even with these strategies, I cannot help one kind of chaos: my mind. I have to say that my mind is very, very chaotic. Sometimes it's just so loud that I can't stand it, but sometimes it's too quiet, which practically drives me to insanity. My mind is the one thing that I cannot help- and trust me, I have tried many things to relieve it. I've learned that, no matter how chaotic my mind is, I just have to live with it. Consequently, this is how I achieved my harmony: I realized that I have to live with it. I shouldn't fight it, I shouldn't delve into it, I should just live with it. This realization made my life a lot better, and it is how I achieved my harmony. You just have to live with and accept some things to be at peace with them.

"Blossom" by Lois van Baarle


Thoughts are undeniably powerful. Thoughts have created wars and peace; thoughts have killed and saved; thoughts have changed the world- sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst. I believe that they are the most powerful element that makes us human because they have the power to do so much. I cannot emphasize enough the power that comes with the ability to think. Thoughts have shaped so much of the world and the earth, as well as being what what makes you and me.

"Breathe" by Lois van Baarle


As I said when I talked about harmony, my thoughts tend to be extremely intrusive. Dealing with them takes a lot of time and effort; they are also very powerful in influencing my life. I've done a lot of things because of my thoughts- some good and some bad (You might notice I've been talking in a roundabout way, but it's because I cannot disclose some very, very, personal things about me). However, my thoughts do something else as well: they make me who I am. My thoughts make me unique, different. I take pride in the fact of my difference, but it sometimes makes it hard for me to be with regular people- but loneliness just makes my thoughts worse, and it turns into a cycle. For these reasons I feel that it is justified in saying that thoughts are maybe... too powerful. I wish I was something without thoughts, with a simple life in which my only concern is survival. Anyway, the main point is that thoughts are powerful and have a lot of influence throughout my life and the world.

"Reflection" by Wenqing Yan


Put simply, forgiveness is extremely important in our daily lives. Forgiveness is the very thing that allows us to move forward. Shame and guilt can only truly be cured by forgiveness; without it, we would be stuck on every single little thing that we do that we feel bad about. Forgiving others also makes us better people; when we forgive others, we realize that it is better to love and to accept than to hate or hold grudges. We build chains that we are bound in by holding grudges and keeping ourselves away from love- which is what most people do (maybe not to that extreme, but you get my point that most people don't realize that in the long run it would be better to forgive someone, even if they did something that they consider unforgivable). For example: Hitler. You will probably think that he is unforgivable. I both agree and disagree. Hitler was a devout vegetarian, animal rights activist, and he loved the arts; however, the most important thing was that he believed that what he was doing during the Holocaust was the right thing to do. He thought that eradicating the Jews was morally just(even though it was obviously not). His beliefs were different than ours are and he was unaware of what real suffering was; does that really make him a bad person, even unforgivable? For me, I am unable to forgive the complete devastation he caused. However, I do find myself thinking that Hitler, when he is seen as a person instead of a monster, is forgivable.

"Connection" by Wenqing Yan


Forgiveness is what I probably have most experience with in this presentation. I have done tons of things that most people would find unforgivable (and I am not exaggerating to any extent). These things have put not only me, but also my parents in a world of pain; how do you forgive your daughter for doing something that you consider unforgivable? They answered: forgive her. Through these experiences I've learned the extent of my parents' mercy, and I am extremely grateful for it. However, I've had the most trouble with forgiving myself. I've put my family through so much, I've done so many wrong things, and I have ruined many opportunities for myself. I've realized, however, that theses things are irreversible- there's no way I can take them back. So I have to accept the fact that I've done them and move on with my life so I can help others and become a person with worth. Evidently, I still haven't forgotten myself. But I know that if I hold myself back, I'll never have a life worth living.

"Narcissus" by Bao Pham
Created By
Iman Khan

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