2012 Essay Winner: Jesus Padilla

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Jesus Padilla
2012 Live Deliberately Essay Contest Winner
Grover Cleveland High School
Sherman Oaks, California

Eyes Wide Open

Each day goes by like an endless procession of responsibilities and limitations, merging into one another seamlessly and monotonously and days become nights without interlude in an endless cycle. Time only allows us to take brief, periodic pauses to breathe and ponder about the things that truly matter, but often many cease to pause altogether and become trapped in a cycle of constant meaningless movement. In a state of constant motion, our relations, dreams, and woes not only become superficial, but also we cease to be “alive”. To be alive is to be both physically and spiritually aware of our surroundings, whether it is a clamorous city or a silent meadow and, most importantly, of ourselves. We are truly alive when we are keenly aware of our thoughts, emotions, and relationships with others.

As a high school student, I rarely get the opportunity to evaluate my life without the risk of falling behind on hours of work and responsibilities. However, the brief moments of complete freedom from the boisterous world I do obtain are from the simple action of following my passion for writing. When I write, I am able to express emotions I am too afraid to show in public, voice opinions I am too complacent to say out loud, and for once, have control of absolutely everything. I am neither an average student nor an average writer; I am the king writing the history to a kingdom solely created by me. My work is completely original and representative of myself. Whether I write an English paper or a reminder to myself, the words I write are a pure manifestation of my Platonic self, free from the stress of a world constantly in evolution and chaos. Before writing a poem, story, or essay on a topic I am passionate about, I allow myself a profound moment of honest reflection and detach myself from obstructive worries. Suddenly, the intangible becomes tangible; a pencil becomes powerful against my hand, the lines on a paper offer endless prospects for possibility, and the sound of my writing sounds musical.

Through my observances, I’ve realized that those who unapologetically follow their passions enjoy every instant. They are part of society and constantly work as many do, but they take minutes of selfish pleasure to simply practice what they enjoy doing. For example, my close friend Koreen takes breaks at school to practice her photography and my friend Ezinne writes poems to express her deep contemplations. They take excursions from reality and emerge themselves in their passions if only for a minute, thus becoming aware of themselves and, as a result, of the world around them. We can neither be physically nor spiritually aware of life around us if we are incapable of meditating on our own position in the world. Only by taking brief moments to reflect, evaluate, and cleanse our minds can we become genuinely aware of our thoughts and thus face the world with eyes wide open as “alive” human beings.