October 22nd, 2009

What Serenity Means To You – First Place

That’s the thing about Browncoats – they’re talented, smart and so damn pretty. Here we have this little essay thing to win an Inara’s Shuttle diorama and not only do we get flooded with entries, they’re all so awesome it makes it almost impossible to choose.

In acknowledgment of this fabulous outpouring of creative brilliance, we’ve decided to award three grand prizes instead of just one. That’s right, we’re giving away three Inara’s Shuttles instead of just the original one we committed to.

We’ve also expanded the total number of winners to 10, so folks that don’t get a shuttle are getting gift certificates to the QMx website. And all their work (all 10 of ‘em) will be published here over the coming weeks, so you can all enjoy they’re efforts as much as our judges did.

Now some of you may think we wimped out here. But we prefer to think of it as a strategic repositioning in light of new information. Namely, you all have a lot of love for Serenity that we really think you should get the chance to share with your fellow Browncoats.

So, without further ado, we present our First Place winner – Cory O. – and his essay on what Serenity means to him:

Like most people, I was born in a hospital.  However, unlike most people I spent much of my childhood in a hospital.  I was born with a congenital defect known as myelomeningocele (aka: Spina Bifida).  It’s a condition that prevented me from standing, much less walking.

While my friends and classmates were riding their bicycles, going camping, swimming and playing sports (man how I really just wanted to play a game of dodge ball), I would either be indoors or on the sidelines.  This, of course, was during those few times when I was not undergoing one of the multiple surgeries and years of physical therapy in the hospital.

Sure I was jealous of them; all of them.  They were developing childhood bonds, close friendships and memories that would last a lifetime.  I, on the other hand, was an outcast; someone to be looked at, but not engaged – that is, I mean, outside of the hospital.  This is where my connection to Serenity began.

Though I did not know it at the time, having been decades before Serenity first aired, the hospital would become my “boat” with the key members of the staff being the “crew”.  This was my family.

The Medical Director was a stern, no-nonsense businessman/doctor who was always concerned about costs, expenses and insurance coverage.  I learned this from my physical therapist whom I’ll get to shortly.  Despite his cold, rough persona, the Medical Director, whom I’ll refer to as Malcom, also had a genuine, though deeply imbedded, distinguishing feature to him; the sense of doing what’s right.  Looking past his exterior, I incorporated his unique sense of ethics as a child and have continued to do so throughout my life.

My chief surgeon was the best.  I heard that he was the top of his class at Harvard Medical.  He wasn’t the warmest individual with the best bedside manners, but he was passionate about his arts; the medical arts that is.  Each time I was to undergo a surgical procedure, I was always at ease knowing that he was one of the most talented and well respected surgeons in the country.  I’ll call him Dr. Tam, though I don’t think he had a sister.

The lead nurse, whom I’ll refer to as Zoe, was one of the kindest and most caring persons I’ve ever known.  She would always be bringing me goodies from the nurse’s station and stopping by to see me whenever she had a break.  Being the Medical Director’s “right hand”, however, she was sometimes fairly bossy to the other nurses.  I just figured she need to keep order in the place, but never understood how one person could be so different.  Still, she was one of my best friends.

Kaylee, aka my physical therapist was truly the one who kept things running.  She was the backbone to the whole operation.  Sure I needed Malcom to oversee the operations, Dr. Tam to make the corrections and Zoe to nourish my health, but without Kaylee, none of it would have made an ounce of difference.  The human spirit is a powerful thing.  Imagine for a second not being able to stand.  When you’re finally able to stand, after months of excruciating pain, anguish, fear and hopelessness, you then needed to walk.  When that’s accomplished, don’t even think about trying to run, because you need to undergo another surgery, and then learn how to stand again.  You then repeat this cycle several more times.  The frustration is unbearable.  However, with a talented coach who knows just which buttons to press, which screws to turn in order to lift your spirits just enough to keep you going, you just know that someday you’ll be able to run.  That was Kaylee.  Her positive energy and enthusiasm was infectious.  Sometimes though, it would be a bit much.  Imagine someone telling you that you can walk on water.  Now you’re to go out and do it and they have the utmost confidence that you can.  Yeah right, that’s a bit over the top.  The thing is, when you’ve spent so much time with someone, you know when it’s earnest and when it’s bogus.  That’s the point when things got fun and you could both have a good laugh.  From there, success was just inches away; and you knew it!  That’s how it was with Kaylee.

What is the definition of Serenity?  It’s the state or quality of being serene, calm or tranquil; sereneness.  For me, that was when I was given the green light; no more surgery, no more pain, no more frustration, no more tears.  For me, that was when I was able to play football with my classmates.  For me, that was when I learned how to ride a bicycle.  For me, that was when I ran my first track meet.  For me, that was when I had my first dance.  For me, Serenity is the pinnacle of achievement.  It’s a state or quality that I have since experienced on countless occasions and continue to strive for daily.

Ok, so my “boat” didn’t have all 9 characters, but the ones closest to me, my childhood family, the ones that mattered the most to me were all there.  They’ve all helped shape me into who I am and have yet to become.  The series touches on a lot of themes about the human condition that I’ve experienced on “my” boat and throughout my life.  Most importantly, it reminds me of my childhood.  Not one of sadness, sympathy and pain, but one of love, laughter and peace; serenity.

Serenity means everything to me.


15 Responses to “What Serenity Means To You – First Place”

  1. john vaughan says:

    Keep flyin’ bro.

  2. Lindsay says:

    Yep. This rightly deserved first place. Wow. Very inspirational and well written. I definitely enjoyed the writing style and you had a distinguished “voice” that just brought it closer to the heart. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  3. Yago says:

    Simply impressive. Well done, and as john says, keep flyin’

  4. Calee says:

    I’m crying…I’m so proud for you, for all of us….Together, we are mighty!…Keep Flyin’

  5. Katharine says:

    Wow. I hope Joss reads this.

  6. Betsy says:

    Wow, this essay sounds so much like my own story. I don’t have the same condition, but I too spent my childhood in a hospital dealing with degenerative bone disease. I can really relate to what you’ve written. Thanks for putting it into words!

  7. Jackson says:

    Second to last paragraph: goosebumps all over.

  8. Therese says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, it brought a lump to my throat and made my eyes get all misty. I love that you gave the definition of Serenity, it is all those things to me too, and I also strive for that in my life. Well done on your win!

  9. madmolly says:

    Completely awesome. I’m with you Cory, Serenity will always be my home.

  10. Stephen Morton says:

    Very much like my story too (Gorlin’s Syndrome), so a well deserved winner. :-)

  11. chingting says:

    Cory, you are mighty.

  12. Jane0904 says:

    I have tears. But they’re of joy at your having the strength to go on, and your luck in finding your crew to help you succeed. A worthy winner indeed.

  13. Tara Quick says:

    That was truly inspirational. You made me cry with pride (and I don’t even know you!). Congrats on embodying what we strive for every day.

  14. Allanna says:

    Well done Cory! Loving your work, keep fying. (and writing, you’re goood.)
    I came 6th but no tears from me (just yet, leave it a week for me to realise what I missed out on) cos you know what?
    I’m happy you won. That was an awsome piece.

  15. Sean Kennedy says:

    Cory, that was touching and heartfelt! Thank you for sharing something so personal and powerful. Best Wishes.