Monthly Archives: March 2017

More Than a Quote

I have a blue notebook in my office that I received for Christmas in 2014, in which I write down in colorful pen whatever words touch me. I call it my Quote Book and I’m up to page 49 now. Not all the quotes are from famous people though, some are from my best friend, my teachers, myself, textbooks, or just random people who I hear talking in the halls.

Yes, this is what nerds do on perfect Sunday afternoons or on late Friday nights. I scour Goodreads looking for quotes and then I get lost in the ocean of humanity’s mind just like I get lost in the encyclopedia. Ralph Waldo Emerson once penned “Words are finite organs of the infinite mind” and I want to douse myself in other’s lively minds. I want to pour wisdom into my mind from wherever I can find it, so that I can have that wisdom while I live my life.

And so if I get lost on Goodreads then that just means that I am getting lost in wisdom that will prepare me for living. I am being found.

I am in a constant state of losing and finding myself. I am designing and developing myself by adding to my schema the thoughts of others who have already lost and found themselves hundreds of times over.

This is why I like learning because in learning about the world and how it works or doesn’t work, I am really learning about and forming myself so that I can change the world. Muriel Rukeyser once said, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms” and so I learn about the universe by learning about stories and the people who tell them.

If you can’t tell already this blog post is gonna be loaded with quotes 🙂 If you are asking yourself why a teenage girl is writing a blog post about quotes when most girls her age are either taking duck-face selfies on snapchat, let John Green answer your question, “Nerd life is just so much better than regular life.” And let me remind you, you are reading this nerdy blog post so you might be included in that “nerd life”. Plus, you have hope for humanity.

Anyway, back to the Quote Book, on the inside front cover I have written a quote by John Green “Maybe our favorite quotations say more about us than about the stories and people we’re quoting.” So what does my Quote Book say about me?

Well, on surface level, I at first only wrote down quotes from Superhero movies and comicbooks then branched out to other types of quotes. I was on a Mark Twain kick for a while (thanks, Goodreads!) and now my quote-obsession is John Green.

On a deeper level, just from that information of who I quote (comicbooks, Mark Twain, John Green), a statement is made about me. I do not care about who said the words; I care about what the words say to me.

I like to play a game where I read a quote from my book and a friend has to guess who said it: a professional writer, a normal person, or a comicbook. Generally they are surprised by who said it, and so the speaker of the words holds little power over the words themselves. Just because comicbooks has fist fights and aliens, doesn’t mean that they also have heart and poetry. “No acknowledgement or any amount of money can return integrity once it is spent” is a quote from One Month to Live #5, which was a comicbook  produced by Marvel Comics in 2010.

But what is my favorite quote? My favorite quote is my mantra, my motto, my manifesto that was written two thousand years ago; it is my rallying cry when I do not want to move forward; it is what is written on my heart and what I want to be written on my every action. My favorite quote says everything I want it to say about me and what I want to say. “But anyone who is not aware that he is doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, for their responsibility is greater” Luke 12:48.  I have a great purpose to accomplish and I will fulfill my potential with every breath I take because that is why I breathe. My favorite quote tells me the meaning of my own life and what I should do with it.

Plus, my favorite Bible verse is oddly similar to my favorite comicbook quote, “With great power there must also come great responsibility” from Amazing Fantasy #15. But this is a case where authorship is everything because I want the words I live by to mean more than words. Although I love Stan Lee, I have so much more assurance in the truth of words spoken by Jesus Christ, Creator and Savior of the Universe.

Ossie Davis said, “Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change — it can not only move us, it makes us move”; I think that quotes are similar to art. Quotes necessitate action. They inspire us to move forward and encourage us to keep moving forward. Quotes tell us to live. And yet quotes are just words of other people to whom we entrust power of our belief upon. A quote — if I choose to give it power — could literally be as plain as “I walked my dog”.  A quote has power if we accept it as truth.

And so, John Green’s quote about quotes has power because I accept it as truth and will transform its words into actions. With this in mind, I think that my Quote Book is not as its name implies; rather it is a collection of words that I have granted power and have promised to take action upon. It is a compendium of thoughts I have deemed worthy to hold prestige in the ranks of my identity. The words that others declared and whispered and hoped are the ones that tell my story because they are the ones that I have chosen to tell it.


“Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

-Proverbs 7:2-3

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Simple Fear

I sometimes wish

that our fears

stayed as simple

as the monster under the bed

stayed as simple

as the shadow in the corner.

Instead of life choices

and concerns over our nation

and how our future will look five, ten years from now.

But those fears from childhood

only represent the anxieties of adulthood

fear and worry about the unknown and uncontrollable.

But only sometimes do I wish that.

Only sometimes because

I know my God holds history and the future

in the palm of His hand

just like He holds me.


“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

-Matthew 6:25-27

On Education

I am so blessed to be able to list all the homework I have to do this weekend. I am so blessed to be anxious over my next AP Calculus test. I am so blessed to feel like the school day will drag on forever. I am so blessed to not be able to sleep because my mind won’t stop taking derivatives. I am so blessed to have to finish a whole book for AP Composition in a weekend.

My mentor once told me a story of how he was in Nepal hiking to the top of a mountain and saw a little boy running the other way. He stopped the boy and asked why he was running. The boy said that from his house up on the mountain it was a two hours run to the school at the bottom of the mountain. The boy said that he didn’t care that he spent four hours going to and from school because he was learning to read.

How could I ever be grumpy or unappreciative that I have homework when children around the world are crying out for education? I am so blessed to have a socioeconomic status where college is almost expected as the next step after high school.

Syrian refugees have said that the thing that they want most for their children is to get an education. The schools in their refugee camps are underfunded and over-packed; yet, the smiles on the children’s faces look as if they were in Harvard.

I believe that education — along with any opportunity in life — can only be used to the full if it is appreciated. And I wanted to say to Education and all the Opportunities you’ve given me, thank you.

And yet there are others in my school who do not appreciate the gift we have been given, which saddens me because then they aren’t fulfilling their potential. Part of their education is wasted on them because they do not appreciate and thus don’t use it to the full.

Other children around the world plead for the chance that seemed to be my birthright. I was born in the United States of America to two white parents both of whom have professional careers. I was born into a life better than most of the rest of the world could only fantasize about. Frankly, most of history could only fantasize about.

And so I thank you Johannes Gutenberg and Horace Mann and John Dewey for making my education possible. I am grateful that from my education I know your names and how much you have done for me and the world.

The education system isn’t perfect; I’ve experienced that first hand. However, if we expect perfection and nothing less, there will be nothing. We should always be trying to enhance what we have, but attaining perfect is like chasing the horizon. We should not settle but we should know when ‘good enough’ is good enough.

I know teachers aren’t perfect; I’ve also experienced this first hand. However, they are the real heroes of this story. They are the one who taught me my letters so that I could write this short essay. And teachers don’t have to be paid educators in schools. My teachers are my parents, my minister, my family, my friends, a stranger on the street.

But I do have to say that my teachers in school have taught me some of my best lessons. The reason why teachers are the real heroes of this story is not because of what they teach out of the textbook, rather what they teach out of their heart. I have learned joy and perseverance and individuality and courage and wonder and faith and community and kindness and laughter and empathy.

Education is not an act of charity but rather an investment in the future. By paying your taxes for public schools, you are investing in the child who will cure cancer one day. You are investing in future firefighters and entrepreneurs and computer programmers and rocket scientists and social workers and nurses and engineers. You are invested in a future. You are investing in hope.

So I just wanted to say, thank you to all of you who have invested in me and didn’t even know me. Thank you for giving me opportunities and hope. I can’t wait to go out into the world and fulfill your investment. I appreciate my education and I will use my education to the full. Please know it will be my joy to one day invest in other children’s dreams and hopes just like you did in mine.

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The Stories That Squiggly, Colorful Lines Tell

I am staring at a globe that is older than I am

It still says that the USSR is a country

and that Croatia is not

It says that Hong Kong is not part of China

and Myanmar’s name is Burma

I am staring at a map that is younger than I am

It says that there is no such thing as South Sudan

This globe and this map

with all their pretty colors

with all their squiggly lines

with all their funny names

do not tell the stories of the people

who live in their pretty colored nations

who live in between their squiggly lines

who live in their funny named cities.

This globe, this map, and even I

tell different stories about this

sphere sprinting across the galaxy

at 67, 000 mph

along with the other one hundred billion

other planets in the Milky Way.

This globe is from 1990

This map is from 2010

some of its recorded history I’ve lived through

most of it I have not

I did not live through the “discovering” of the New World

I did not live through the “conquering” of the West

I did not live through the “civilizing” of the Lost Continent

But I am living now

I do not yet have the priviledge to own a piece of paper

that says that I own some squiggly, colorful piece of land

But I do live in a squiggly, colorful land that says

that I have the right to

These squiggles and colors give us identity

give us unity

give us heritage

A nationality

A citizenship

A people

Yet they give us war

give us quarrels

give us anxiety

give us hatred

give us discrimination

These lines on maps and hearts

tell us differences

but it is up to us

if we choose

to celebrate or

to condem

those differences.

***

Those changes in our maps

tell us more than just geography

more than just history

they tell us why we fought

and why we fight.

***

I want to live in a nation

where those squiggly, colorful lines mean something

where they stand for something

something I stand for and stand with

I want to live in a world

where those squiggly, colorful lines

do not divide us

but create in us something greater than

we could have ever imagined separately

I want to live as an individual

unified with my town

unified with my county

unified with my state

unified with my nation

unified with my world

resting securely in the palm of the Lord Almighty

Creator of the heavens and the earth.

Because sometimes to get things done

you have to color outside the lines

even the squiggly, colorful ones

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