Shoving my shivering hands into the pockets of my not quite warm enough wool coat, I descended into and conquered the byzantine chaos of the Manhattan subway system: an intricately woven but fierce spider web that covers the borough like a blanket. I found myself at the heart of the vivacious city, in the depths of this diverse sea swelling with magical musicians and belligerent businessmen. It was a beautiful and dignified aggression that agreed with me as nothing had before. I was in New York City, partaking in a national Model United Nations conference with my fellow teammates.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
The sights had been seen, the falafel food poisoning had run its painful course, and the jubilation of winning multiple Model UN awards had subsided. Plopping myself onto the sliver of bright orange seat, I slouched against the uncomfortable plastic and drifted into my day dreams. In this soporific state of half-awareness, I noticed dark chocolate hair hanging over sepia brown eyes brimming with self-assurance. Our gazes locked and I froze. The doors opened and an uncanny chill blew in at Union Square station as the woman glided toward me. Offering but an indecipherable smile, she extended a white journal and vanished. The creaking leather thundered as I opened the cryptic notebook and found oddly familiar handwriting.
Hard work, commitment, and confidence provide the keys, but you choose the doors. Also, don’t forget: life is full of changing locks and you might have to pick one.
Independence stems from within but ability strengthens when you surround yourself with others.
You’ll taste many drinks in life (some you won’t remember), but those consumed to quench your thirst for wisdom you’ll never forget. Try them all.
Question all facts and friends; question what is written here; question your professors and theories. Challenge the convenient. Doubt accepted assumptions. But, most importantly, examine, investigate, and scrutinize yourself.
During an ordinary subway ride I had experienced the extraordinary: I had met myself. She was the embodiment of all my deepest desires and perspectives. In sixteen years, I have experienced moments of sublime success and dreadful disappointment. Reveled in unbridled joy and cried in piercing pain. In that enlightened bliss, however, I thought about how momentary, yet still significant those instances seemed, like boarding platforms that enabled the journey but didn’t keep it going. Life is not about definition or Being, but about decisions and Becoming. The young unconcerned girl and the confident mature woman became one.
Pushing my way through the turnstile, I ascended out of the damp, underground air. Tall, towering buildings reminded me of small I was, but they also revealed to me how great I could become. As I reached to answer my phone, I looked down at the journal and noticed one last line.
Turn the page…
I did. Nothing was written. The empty blankness smiled back at me. Marvelous wonder and warmth shielded me from the downtown freeze. I discovered that for which I had always been looking – the limitless opportunities of the future and the blank pages in which I eagerly look forward to writing.
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