Indomitable Flames
Ellen Xu, Division 2, 7th grade #ws18e-s1d2

Adrenaline rushes through me as I pick up speed, advancing faster and faster, my eyes locked upon my target. A glint of light on metal, a flash of silver, and I push off the ground, seizing the opportunity. I am flying, soaring through the air, my saber tip extended in front of me. The sensation is exhilarating, exuberant, and electrifying. My saber hits my opponent’s lamé, and out of the corner of my eye, I see the green glare of the machine, hear the buzz of a touch scored. Smiling, I land on the ground softly, a bird touching down after flight. My heart is still fluttering from the excitement and savoring the feeling. I love fencing saber, just like Félicie Milliner loves ballet in the movie Leap! If I could be any character, I would be honored to be Félicie Milliner as I admire her optimism, determination, and passion for ballet, leading her to unlock her lifelong dream for dancing, just as I wish to do with fencing.

Growing up in an orphanage, life was arduous but never took a toll on Félicie. She always found delight in all her encounters, despite the hardship. Making the most out of every moment, Félicie painted color and happiness over the canvas of her black and white life. Her life might seem forlorn to many, but she managed to fill it with spirited laughter, and I admire her sanguine outlook about life. It takes tremendous and positive determination to change one’s destiny, not to mention alternating one’s view of the entire world. I want to see the world in Félicie’s light, in the bright, perpetual optimism she shines upon Earth. If I had Félicie’s optimism, every fall would result in getting back up and trying again, every mistake would result in deepening persistence to achieve better outcomes, and every moment would result in valuing feedback and seeking constructive changes. Positivity is the opposite of gravity, in the way that it pulls a person back up on one’s feet after a dreadful fall. Just like in any sport, there are times of destitution in fencing that hinder my path of improvement, pushing me down to a point of no return. Sometimes I am able to conquer the impossible climb over those treacherous mountains; other times the towering giants seem overpowering and impossible to surpass. With Félicie’s positivity, every time I got stuck, I would be able to face all the looming challenges along my life journey and edge closer to my dreams at the end of the horizon.

Félicie’s determination also shined through in her darkest days. Pursuing her dream of becoming a dancer, Félicie practiced intensely with every given opportunity. She danced through pain and fatigue, anger and sorrow. Being the underdog among her competitors, Félicie’s unwavering willpower drove her to excel and earn the main role in the Nutcracker play. Success initially seemed so beyond reach, but Félicie never gave up on her dream. Through persistent practice and training, clumsy stumbles and falls became graceful pirouettes and twirls. I love Félicie’s determination, the way the flame inside of her keeps on burning, pushing her on to new limits and possibilities. Although Félicie’s positivity brings her back up on her feet, it is her perseverance that helps her climb those treacherous mountains in her way. While fencing, I also encounter arduous obstacles as Félicie. I feel fatigue on those long nights of practice, frustration when I cannot do the right moves, and even pain as my own blood stains my hands red. It is never easy to fight through those moments, but Félicie has more of a drive in her than others. With Félicie’s determination, I could fence for longer durations, lunge farther, and improve faster.

Félicie’s passion is the fuel to her determination. For as long as she can remember, she’s dreamed of dancing. Félicie felt the music, lived in her dance, poured her heart and soul into the movements. Dancing is what made her free, the feeling of no restraints, spreading her wings and allowing her to leap and fly. It allowed her to live, to be herself. Dancing is not just what Félicie did; it became a part of her, and she can’t live without it. Her fierce, unwavering passion for dancing inspired me, also reflecting my love for fencing. Fencing became part of my life, just like dancing became part of Félicie’s. She is different from other movie or book characters because her passion and love for dancing led her to accomplish a seemingly impossible dream. I wish I had Félicie’s passion because if I did, I would endlessly practice fencing without thought, willingly accept fatigue in trade for more practice time, and fence not only because I love it, but because it is part of me and makes me who I am.

In the movie Leap!, my favorite quote is the word of advice Félicie’s mom gives Félicie. “If you don’t leap, you’ll never know what it’s like to fly.” When Félicie leaps, she’s flying through the air, her body poised in a beautiful and graceful grand jeté. When I push off the ground and flunge, I am also soaring through the air with my saber tip aimed at my opponent. This is when I set myself free, doing what I truly love. This is the flame that I hold in my heart while fencing; a mixture of love, joy, and passion. If I were to be any character, I would want to be Félicie because I admire the types of flame she holds in her heart; the bright and positive flame that illuminates light onto the world, the fierce and persistent flame that pushes her on to new limits, and the steady flame that keeps on burning with passion and love.
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