Adventure Risk Challenge brings high school students from underrepresented communities to NRS reserves for the adventure of their lives. In between wilderness outings to rock climb, backpack, and kayak, students receive up to six weeks of literacy and leadership training.
During the program, each student is asked to write a poem using an element in nature as a metaphor for him or herself. Anadi Zuniga, now a junior at Le Grand High School, participated in the Yosemite ARC program this summer and chose to compare herself to a calliope hummingbird.
A Flutter of a Spark in the Winds
By Anadi Zuniga
I am a Calliope hummingbird.
I am colorful, elusive, a wandering spirit
With my multi-colored wings I soar for answers about the world
Ideas only fuel my desire for knowledge
Just like a hummingbird thirsting for nectar
I move with a quick, but steady pace
Forever searching for the elixir that will sate my aspirations
As a tiny hummingbird, the smallest of my kind, the worlds seems so large
The winds are ominous, constantly shoving me down
Trees are skyscrapers, rocks are mountains
I am but one fluttering heartbeat in a sea of pounding hearts
As a hummingbird, I am weak
The only thing keeping me aloft
Are my strong, long wings
But even they, however, cannot withstand
Blow after blow after blow
Thrown at me by the winds
The strong winds clash against me,
As elusive as I am, they send strong negative vibes, thoughts
Discouragement, anxiety, a hatred for myself,
They choke me and toss me off course,
And prevent me from searching
They whisper these ugly things to me,
Tears flowing like rain, I feel powerless
The winds within keep me from migrating
They fear change; they want me to continue to circle
Just that spot
Creating and maintaining that horribly perfect storm
That I want to break free from
I flicker furiously to get by the tornado
But can only break down
My own self drags me, holds me by my tail
And says, “You need to do better, to be perfect.”
The other winds attempt to whisper, “Perfection isn’t all.”
But they get drowned out by
The seemingly endless tormenting hurricane.
Darting about is all that I really know,
My only sincere defense against the harsh winds.
And from the outside looking in, it seems that I am simply
Enjoying all the colors, smells and sounds of life
In a rapid and dizzying pace.
But in reality, only I know the reason for darting to and fro,
And it’s to keep the winds away, to distract myself from the pain of the winds with
The colors, smells and sounds of life,
To make every single wave of wind thrown at me
Seem a little bit softer.
So I distract myself, cloak myself with the colors
The effect only weighing my wings more
As I carry the burden of pretending
That everything’s fine
There’s one thing, though, that the winds cannot deteriorate,
And that is the flame of curiosity, buried deep inside
So the winds do not touch it
It’s the place where my true colors shine,
Changing, dazzling, burning,
It’s the perch where I can truly rest,
The flower where I can fill my belly with knowledge,
It is true nirvana.
The flame, the bright little star,
Is buried far too deep, hidden, unreachable for the winds,
And in some ways I can’t touch the little spark within, because of how far down it is,
Buried like long lost memories within a box of old heirlooms.
Reaching it requires so many bright hues,
To clear away the dark shades up above it.
Only slowly and with patience will the winds wither away,
To become only wisps, small words in the night.
One day, I wish to be able to free myself from this cage,
To stop the constant torrent of winds
From tossing, stretching, wounding me
And I wish for that one day, oh for simply one day
In which I can be myself again
Be that shining flame that everyone perceives me as,
As the one buried deep within myself,
Be the beautiful Calliope hummingbird that darts to and fro,
That experiences the world so gracefully, with such a carefree attitude,
I want to one day be the person that I am
Deep, deep inside, away from the winds, away from the troubles
So in the meanwhile,
I work my way out, put the key together piece by piece,
And work to make change the fruit of my hard labor.
Messiness is a guarantee; organizing emotions coated with a fine dust after years of storage
Is almost never easy
But I do it, one soft flutter at a time