HyunGu Kang

2013-2014 Live Deliberately Essay Contest

HyunGu+Kang+2HyunGu Kang, 15
Winner, 13-15 Age Group
University of Toronto Schools
Toronto, ONT  CANADA

Every summer, I put myself through a literature spirit journey. Equipped with a bike, a backpack, and a library card, I pedal to the libraries in my neighborhood to learn from Kafka and Borges, Shakespeare and Dickens, Plato, Richard Dawkins, and Stephen Hawking. Immersed in the author’s universe, struggling not to be overwhelmed by a consciousness much more powerful than my own, I am challenged to test, explore, and strengthen my nature. This, to me, is the purest form of learning. This is my life at Walden Pond.

Thoreau was also on a spirit journey, albeit of a different kind. He was inspired by nature. I focus instead on literature and science, but I believe that he, too, saw learning as a slipstream into a larger collective consciousness, alive with an eternity of wisdom and peace. I, like Thoreau, wish to contribute to the consciousness that fuels my understanding. Thoreau did this by writing. Michelangelo sculpted, Bach composed, and Einstein crafted the Theory of Relativity.

How will I make a difference? I’m not sure. Frankly, I am not prepared to make a positive difference in the world, and I am unconvinced that changing the world while unprepared will benefit anything besides my ego. Until I am wise, mature, and responsible enough to “elevate [my] life”[1] and the lives of others, I am content to wait and learn.

That being said, there are occasions when I do intervene. I use my working proficiency in Spanish, French, and Korean to diffuse conflicts on the public transit. I draw on my self-confidence to shelter a friend from a particularly belligerent teacher. I sing to stop nightmares from bothering my little sisters in the night. When I can help, I do, but the small differences I make in other peoples’ lives are baby steps towards a larger goal. For now, my contributions are small because I only understand a small part of the human experience. They are satisfying, but they are not what I live for.

I live to learn, “to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which [I] look”[2]. I live so I can access and contribute to the matrix of human experience that teaches me to be a conscious, self-aware human being.

I am young. The closest I’ve come to contributing to human consciousness is spreading my enthusiasm for learning. Strangers on the subway have approached me to discuss everything from religion to complex numbers. My friends have said that listening to me talk about the Big Bang “makes [them] want to believe in God!” Inspiring others to begin their own quests for knowledge is about as much as I can do for now, but, one day, when I have my own wisdom to share, I, too will make my knowledge eternal, and that will be my legacy.