“Tripp Lake” by Lauren Slater

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The story ‘Tripp Lake’ is about a ten year old girl, from a family where the parents do not agree with each other. The girl is named Lauren, and her character can be plainly put as docile and non competitive. In this story, Lauren is persuaded by her unhappy mother to attend summer camp in Poland, Maine, in an effort to help her daughter to enjoy her childhood and nurture her into a competitive person, an opportunity that she had missed, since she had many responsibilities when growing up, as the first born child in her family.

Lauren finds it necessary to begin her story with her departure for the summer camp, in order to build on her attitude throughout the summer camp. She states that she experienced a “shudder of intense grief” with regard to the fragile and emotional expressions portrayed by her mother, who wanted more from life, but felt unable to achieve it.

Lauren is observed to be sympathetic, since she wished she could trade places with her mother, in order for her to achieve some more, since she felt that her mother was imposing the life that she had wanted for herself, on her. This is observed when Lauren called her home and asked to go home, but her mother responded by telling her to not be a quitter.

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It is at his point that we get to understand why Lauren is fearful. Lauren lacked the will to be competitive, since the glory that came with victory was something that her mother did not have, and she felt that her mother had to be happy for her to feel joy as well, as seen in the words, “I felt much too guilty to take them for myself.” The author is extremely fearful and sympathetic, to an extent where she cannot participate effectively in sports.

In addition to this, we see the turmoil that Lauren is faced with, when living her life. She tries to have some fun but feels guilty for it, since she observes her happiness as betrayal to her mother, when she states that part of her fiercely wants her to win the games, while there was a part of her that wanted to hide, and in many cases, she hid herself, to avoid competing.

Lauren tells us of how she was able to overcome her fear, by finding a sport where she did not have to hide. This sport, horse riding, was introduced to her, when the counsellors noticed her problem, after she was one of the last two players in a game of bombardment, and she willingly lost to her opponent, stating that she “let the ball hit me” and justified her acts by stating that “that was the only outcome that I could tolerate.”

Horse riding was a sport allowed to the senior student only, those aged over 14 years. In addition to that, it was not part of the camp curriculum, but the counsellors, who had noticed her peculiar behaviour, allowed her to train under Coach Kim, since they thought that it would make her happy.

Horse riding made her calm, as she claimed to forget her breathing movements, heartbeat, and other things that made her conscious.

Lauren admired Kim, as she rode her horse, especially when she leapt into the air while on her horse, as she described it, stating that “she was amazing, fluid,…her face a mixture of terror and exhilaration, the balanced combination that means only one thing: mastery.” Lauren could translate the exercises that Kim took into her life, sitting the obstacle as her parents, and particularly her mother. She was taught to ride her horse, though she never got round to jumping the fence.

Jumping the fence then became her vision, the one thing that she could not do as long as she was fearful. This knowledge was given to her by Kim, stating that the horse sensed the fear within its master, “he senses your fear” causing it to come to a halt.

Lauren gets a taste of power three times during her time in the summer camp. The first time is when she goes out on her first night at the camp when she is unable to sleep, and finds a small toad. She picks it up, and evaluates her options, whereby its life is in her mercy, identifying how powerless it was. The second instance is when she locked her mother in the bathroom, when her parents had come to visit her at the camp.

Her mother’s pleas requesting her to open the door showed how vulnerable she was, and how a little action could give her power. The third time is when she made the jump, on her horse’s back. This showed her urge to ovecome her fear, and move forward, which she did, eventually.

One day, Kim urges her to make the jump, “we are going to jump today”, and Lauren does not resist the invitation, since she also acknowledges the need to face and overcome her fears. If she could make the jump and meet her obstacle, it would symbolize her readiness to meet the challenges within her. As Lauren made the jump, she claimed that she had found “a way to move forward” implying that she had been released from her bondage, and she felt the confidence to continue making the necessary amendments.

The story by Lauren is typical to people on a daily basis, whereby we face challenges that keep us from our goals. Lauren’s bravery is inspirational, and can be used as an example for everyone to follow. The first step requires faith, and through it everything is possible, allowing one to break free and grow.

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