Dear Mr. Solzhenitsyn,
I have just finished reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and noticed things that I barely even considered as a footnote in daily life before I read your book. Ivan goes through many of the struggles that other people go through in daily life, just in a different place and time. I know that you were among the millions of people back then spent time in a Russian prison camp, which was probably the worst experience of your life. Your book opened my eyes to my life and how I should appreciate it, how to live it, and how to enjoy every second of it.
In my life, the only difference, at least I believe, is the setting in which I go about my day. I wake up, eat breakfast, go to school, see the same groups of people, same jerks pushing people around simply because they can, and than being pushed around myself. But, your book opened my eyes to how much worse it could be. Instead of spending seven hours with harmless jerks, I could be shot for stumbling and dropping something. I get good food in the morning; I could be getting leftover slop with bones in it.
The closest experience I've to Ivan's experience is Oak Pik near Canada on a Boy Scout trip. It was always barely above or even below freezing the whole time; we slept in tents bundled up in sleeping bags, and ate food that got cold as soon as we took it off the fire. Even that is not nearly as extreme as he had it.
I also experience the exact opposite extreme to Ivan's every year. The summers in small town Nevada, Iowa are scorching, the exact opposite of Ivan's experience. Sometimes it can reach 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit and I still have to go outside and mow the lawn, wash the cars, and other various tasks. Even the water isn't even an escape from the heat, because not only is it hot, the sun is extremely bright. I even got second degree burns from being out in the water, which I probably would’ve had to deal with in a prison camp like Ivan's, and had to sit around and sleep on my chest instead of on my back for 3 weeks.
I would also like to thank you for using your experiences in writing this story. It really got me to think that things aren't really that bad, that there are things that I should appreciate more, things that other people should appreciate more, because we can all say one stupid thing and be alienated from everyone else for simply expressing our own thoughts and feelings. I now realize how lucky I am to grow up in a culture that encourages individuality and everyone's differences are respected. Though we all go through several day to day struggles between stress, people, family, and just life in general, you have shown me that I should appreciate it all that much more.
Dane Van Allen