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The American Male at Age Ten & Orchid Fever by Susan Orlean - Essay Example

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This essay stresses that people go through life trying to find the answers for many questions.  It has also been said that, usually, people find the answers to these questions once they are able to look back to their beginnings with appreciation and understanding in their eyes. …
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The American Male at Age Ten & Orchid Fever by Susan Orlean
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It has been said that people go through life trying to find the answers for many questions. It has also been said that, usually, people find the answers to these questions once they are able to look back to their beginnings with appreciation and understanding in their eyes. Through her essays, “The American Male at Age Ten” and “Orchid Fever”, Susan Orlean shows how easy yet meaningful life can be if people just lived by the simple things like a child or how, like a smart horticulturist, passion for doing what one loves most can make life worth living. At the age of ten, a child may surprise you with his awareness of what goes on in society. At the same time, however, he may amaze you with how the little things in his life make it significant. Similarly, someone who is passionate about something will find meaning in life even with the menial things that satisfy his zeal.
Susan Orlean is known to write about ordinary people “who are not normally in the public eye or consciousness, but in whose very ordinariness Orlean finds something extraordinary.” (Boynton 271) Because of her essay topics, Orlean enables her readers, and even herself, to be in awe at how everyday people can have such meaningful lives. There is nothing unusual about the people in the middle of Orleans stories. They are not famous celebrities or notorious folks. They are, however, passionate about things or people that are important to them. Because of this, their lives have become exceptional.
In “The American Male at Age Ten”, Orlean describes the life of a typical 10-year old American boy living in the suburbs. Like any boy his age, Colin Duffy shows the writer’s audience that he can be a child and yet at the same time be as sensitive and mature in thinking as an older person. The author shares that Colin plays games and pranks and hangs out with his best bud. Amidst all this carefree behavior, Orlean also describes Colin as someone smart, aware of social issues normally discussed between adults and has a mind which can and does process a lot of stuff whenever Colin feels like it. Towards the end of the essay, the reader is made to realize that although Colin is just ten, there is more to him than just video games and childish pranks.
Similarly, John Laroche, the central character in another essay, “Orchid Fever”, shows us that being a horticulturist can be more than just a person who likes growing flowers. In addition, his life teaches us that it is alright to be so passionate about something. This passion is what would make life meaningful. Although it is very seldom, if not rare, that a horticulturist is arrested for stealing wild orchids from a state preserve, it does happen as one discovers upon reading Orchid Fever. During his interview with the author, Laroche shares that he had planned to be arrested so he could bring attention to his cause and, maybe, get the law changed. If Laroche was passionate about something, he pursued it with much zeal and did not regret any loss he incurred along the way.
Through her essays, Susan Orlean tells her readers that one’s journey in life, of life, will only reach its end when one takes a step back from living and looks at what is before him with appreciation. It seems people live in the now to prepare for the future. In doing so, most have come to question why life has been insignificant for them. People search for this answer in the future. Susan Orlean’s essays show us that all we need to do to answer this question and to make life meaningful is to be carefree and passionate about our lives in the now, not in the future.
References
Boynton, Robert. The New New Journalism: Conversations with America’s Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft. New York: Random House, Inc., 2005
Orlean, Susan. Orchid Fever. Retrieved on March 4, 2010 from http://www.susanorlean.com/articles/orchid_fever.html Read More
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