To Reach for the Light This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Last week, I tripped and fell onto the banana tree that grows in the middle of our foyer.
     

I had long before decided that I hated banana trees—we’d actually grown multiple over the years, caring for them as a fond reminder of tropical South India, where my parents had been born and raised. Each year, when autumn arrived with milky skies and chilled weather, the banana plant was hoisted into a hideous, burgundy pot and moved to the foyer, where it had a large window for light and plenty of room to grow. Despite the delectable fruit the tree made so delightfully convenient, as well as the sentimental value it held for my parents, I stubbornly remained critical, eyeing the plant as a waste of time and space.
     

So the stormy morning I first spectacularly fell into that banana tree, comically tumbling over a poorly-tied shoelace and slamming into a giant mass of pale green, I had not expected to look up at its curled stem pointed towards the window and—slowly, wonderfully—realize how much I found myself in it.
     

Reflection is my most cherished pastime; there is nothing I desire more than to go on a summer walk with nothing but the whir of my thoughts in my head, their subject ranging from that morning’s political debate or even a simple AP Biology assignment I am eager to conquer. I enthusiastically participate in discussions at my church over the role of youth and why I am able to make my own decisions as a being of free-will. I tenderly place these thoughts in the journal I keep stuck to me like a second skin, filling it with my plans for my future as a healthcare professional, listing and elaborating on every step I must take to get there. I mull over and dissect the ideas and challenges that lie before me, simply allowing myself to think and attempt finding the answer to the questions buzzing in my mind—until finally, the sigh falling from my lips is one of satisfaction. It is fulfilling for me, an enjoyable challenge, to break apart even the most mundane aspects and study it closely.
     

The banana tree, inching forward to catch any spattering of light spilling through dark clouds and through the window, was one of these topics, and over the week, as the image floated in my mind, teasing me and deepening my thought process, I found the answer in myself.
     

I am full of vibrant, pulsing life. I do not wait for truth to come to me when I can search for it myself, exploring every event and every thought, pressing questions spilling from my lips. I felt this the most vividly during my junior year, during which my classmates and I were tasked with elaborating on an aspect of human character and then presenting on our findings. Naturally, I was thrilled, and after spending three months reading classic literature, studying texts, and analyzing various theories, I presented to the class my conclusion on the destructive power of materialism. I attempted to convince them with genuine and fluid words of why I felt so strongly about this subject—and to my complete delight, they were won over. I was extremely happy, my smile curling at the edges and causing me to realize I had just accomplished something wonderful.
     

I am like this tree—this infuriating, stubborn tree, with its heavy leaves, sticky with viscous sap, that strain and reach in every direction. Like this banana tree, I love the sensation of fighting for what I believe in, searching for light, for truth, and extracting it from wherever I can. I am inexplicably in love with thought and reason, and I refuse to give up finding my answers, even if it causes me a little bit of hard work.
     

Give me a challenge and watch my resilience—watch me reach for the light.






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