Fruits of Passion

Konrad TittelDecember 4, 2023Finding MeaningAwesome Moments

Artwork by Clio Leung, age 16

To be human is to delve into a fantastical ecosystem strung together from fragments of the past, the present, the future, and to daringly traverse undiscovered paths that bring us fulfillment, despite the dense forest seeking to resist our unyielding progress.

Intrinsically woven together as a discordant yet harmonious hive mind, we cut through these dense weeds in pursuit of our dreams, ones which grow clearer and clearer as we age, striking us like rays of sunlight that pierce the canopy above. To transcend the murky darkness of the forest and embrace the light is to find meaning in our lives, accept who we are, and free ourselves from mental servitude. And yet, this eternal effort to capture our true essence, to find meaning in the vast, incoherent planet, is unique to each of us. Every single transformative moment in our lives is just a brushstroke in this beautifully abstract painting of life. Sharing these stories fuels the fire of humanity, bringing those lost in the darkness to feast on meaning.

Like many, I spent much of my early childhood aimlessly wandering through this forest that is life, innocently caressing the leaves of each tree, yet never lingering long enough to truly immerse myself in any one topic. “Up is too scary,” I thought, as I quivered at the very sight of the looming trees overhead, proud, strong arms outstretched to the world, welcoming the world. So instead, my gaze shyly crept downwards; down to the ground, where it scanned in search of anything I could forage. I searched for anything that would provide me with some spark of instant gratification, anything that would appease the persistent question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?" This was my childhood: navigating this cycle of picking up scraps, leaving them behind, and continuing on to the next. As the world evolved around me, I was there, merely riding the tides of human ingenuity, my youth imprisoning me to a single conception of the world shaped by my surroundings. This raw innocence that suspended me above each battering wave of hardship was beautiful.

But growing up entails a different kind of beauty, one which, although persistently at war with the darkness that inevitably accompanies the light, blossoms into a beautiful flower nonetheless, nourished by dreams and passion and inspiration. It was this drastic realization whose rays of enlightenment shattered my delusion, laying the building blocks for my identity today.

That day was rather … unextraordinary, at least at first. It was a rainy, gloomy London day, the sky painted a dull gray, drenching the world in melancholy. The solemn skies eventually gave in and cried tears of relief upon the city below, prompting me to take shelter in Waterloo Station. Upon entering the hall, I was struck by a thriving ecosystem crisscrossed by converging and diverging railways, currents of people gliding to-and-fro and in and out of trains. They were all in pursuit of different goals and desires, while I stood there, static as a rock, resisting this mesmerizing procession. As I looked up, my eyes scanned the large glass panes lining the ceiling, revealing the looming face of the heavens. Suddenly, an elegant white bird effortlessly pierced the endless rain above, breaking me out of my stiff trance. Slowly, my once timid movements began to loosen, and mimicking the bird’s freedom, I began drifting about the station, eventually washing up on the shore of a library. I don’t recall what exactly drove me to set foot upon this unfamiliar land. Indeed, my largely antipathetic approach towards “books” painted them as creatures that, according to my 12 year-old brain, sought to imprison me in “school” - a place whose mere concept elicited dread in me. Nonetheless, some hypnotic calling from within lured me deeper into the unknown. Even as the looming shelves of books glared menacingly at me from above, I unwaveringly beat on against the current that drove me back to ‘safety,’ to my blissful ignorance. And then, suddenly, something snapped; the currents lessened, the shriek of disapproval arising from each shelf grew muted, and I felt myself drifting rather than resisting. I, once an invasive species aimlessly roaming this unforgiving wasteland that was destitute of any form of instant gratification I had previously indulged in, now flourished alongside the vast vineyards brimming with rich knowledge around me.

It was at this moment that my once bitter disinterest blossomed into fanatical craving for the nectar of knowledge, of passion. And so, like a bee seeking nourishment, I began pursuing enlightenment. No longer was I riding the raging waves of the food chain, aimlessly gathering foraged items from the ground while those around me rose to the top. Now I too reached for the richest fruits above, ever seeking to quench my thirst for knowledge. Finally my unstoppable procession was halted when my gaze settled on one book, entitled Relativity: The Special and the General Theory, by Albert Einstein.There was some intrinsic mystery that shrouded that book in ethereal wonder, yet to this day I can’t pinpoint exactly what. Perhaps it was the allure of theory, of the abstract, that challenged the exceedingly materialistic, grounded world in which I existed until that point. Or perhaps the book’s mysticism was conjured by its image in my eyes as some holy relic summoned by one of the greatest minds in history, his writing sequestered there within its pages. Yet all I know is that, the moment I opened that book, I released an ancient passion that for so long slumbered within me, which drove me to excel in mathematics and physics, both of which are intrinsically rooted in my identity to this day. Yet I cannot help but poke fun at the irony – how could a path of abstraction ultimately lead to my clarity? Yet perhaps this isn’t so unusual after all. Perhaps we must endure the musty soil before we feel the warmth of the sun, the coolness of the air caressing our skin. Clarity.

Konrad Tittel is a 15-year-old from Houston, Texas. Konrad is interested in math, science, and writing.