Staring down the road
I bound towards the green glow with gusto. I pedal with all my might, not knowing when the traffic light will turn. Time is ticking. Curve around the impatient Ford Ranger waiting to go. Steer away from the big Dobermann barking across the street. Smile and say “Hi!” to its owner. It’s something I do every day, yet each bike ride is a new experience. As I head to unknown places, I absorb each landscape to build upon my ever-changing biography.
When I was younger, my family rarely took vacations or went anywhere. My days were spent at home doodling dragons in the sky and joining Bilbo’s procession through the Misty Mountains. Through my bedroom window, I would count airplanes and chronicle the life story of the people who walked by. My room was a safe sanctuary where I could travel around the world in 80 seconds and still be home in time for dinner.
The world was so small.
The world was so small, but as I grew up, I took liberties to open it wider. Rather than write fiction about other people, I wanted to narrate my own adventure. My dreams for my own adventure came together this summer: I challenged myself to bike to all 23 San Jose Branch Libraries. Although I was afraid of being on my own in foreign streets, I biked on them anyway. I biked fifteen miles from South San Jose to downtown. I biked in 100 degree weather and in the frigid morning air. I threw myself into the world to find out what I would learn from my own adventure.
I met some of the nicest people on my journey: the strong man who helped put my bike on the lightrail rack, the deaf woman who gave me directions, the friendly jogger who replied, “Hello! How are you?!” I also endured the harshness of others: the rude driver who honked at me and cut me off, the drunk pedestrian who yelled at me to get off the sidewalk, and even the no-faced thief who stole my blue bike with the pink lock and tattered basket. Unconfined to my small room, I discovered my life to be an uncharted map.
The more roads I travel, the more open-minded I become to different people in my community. The light is green as long as I’m willing to pass it. As I explore more pathways in college, I will gain even more knowledge on people and their behaviors. Even as I bike down the street, I sometimes shirk from my responsibility, different people, and impatient cars, but overcoming that fear of the outside world is also part of the experience. Now, I don’t see the world through a pane-glass window. Now, it is through my knowledge of people I encounter and my experiences that steer toward the outline of my story.
This is my personal statement that I wrote for my college application and I’m not surprised at how much I still resonate with each sentence I wrote back in high school. Everything as it is now: my want for adventure, my love of learning through people and places I go, my everyday biking experience – it is all unchanged. In learning sociology, I think I am able to gain the knowledge in understanding human experience and learning more about the outside world in general. There is so much to learn, yet so little time. I sometimes feel this way: I want to learn. I want to improve. I want to sleep. I want to be still. It is hard to satisfy all these things in the time being. As of now I am forgoing sleep and catching up on Durkheim to write this post.
A drama once told me this quote.
The truth is always painful,
that’s why I sometimes close my eyes in front of the truth.
Perhaps I am turning like that. Biking along, I see things in the world that are not right. I see people getting hurt, people being scared, people unable to move forward. And I, though my heart hurts, I am still. This whole time I was biking. I never got off. And stopped.
I think it was because I was on a bicycle that was fully pumped. Pumped with faith, love, friends, family. I saw others on bicycles that would crash into cars and bicycles that would even be stolen. Personally I’ve had 9 bicycles stolen, but every time, I would have a new one to ride. (My thanks, Steak) When you are riding a bicycle, it is not easy to stop, for it is so fun to ride. When you get used to riding a bicycle, it is hard to walk because you are itching to ride again.
I must start learning to walk again. And feel how it is for others to walk, instead of bike.