Tae Young Woo

I make things happen.

"andante" - short essay

In high school, my AP English Literature class was assigned one final assignment after the AP exam--writing a "This I Believe" story. Based off the essays from the organization This I Believe, these essays were supposed to describe a belief we had regarding anything. Our teacher handed out copies of everyone's essays (everyone in my class) to us at the end of the year, and it was very interesting to read the different stories each student had written. Although this is not related to much of the things I write about on this blog, I wanted to share this story as this is, of course, my personal blog. A short one-page essay I wrote (which somewhat went off course from the directions of the "This I Believe" essay, but I had so much fun writing this) in one sitting, reflecting on my experiences throughout high school.

andante

Check.

Now that’s done, what’s next?

For as long as I can remember, every day was a checklist. Except that every checklist was slapped onto my brain instead of glowing in front of my eyes, of course. Sometimes even my brain couldn’t keep it from slipping away, and that was when my right hand came in handy. Must record all. Quick, before it leaves my head.

One ironic summer evening, I ran out of tasks to check off. My toothbrush, my awkwardly-thick jacket, my passport, and my school mindset were neatly packed in the large luggage bag that rested by the door. I had woken up extra early that day to pick up my violin from the repair shop, and even arranged my transportation route so that I could say my final goodbyes to my grandparents before returning home. Heavy rain had defeated the usual scorching sun, and the only image I had in my head was a blue plane piercing through needles of water falling through the air. My plane ticket sat on my desk.

I peeked through the crack into the master bedroom, which glowed with darkness—my ticket to freedom. With only an umbrella, I walked down the fourteen flights of stairs to the first floor of the apartment. The elevator had been my best friend for months as each second used traveling meant time lost work, doing more “productive things.” Not today.

I found a bench that always sat next to the screen door entrance to my apartment building. I never realized its existence for the months I walked past it, but it opened itself to me as if it had always welcomed me.

Two security guards rattled their cigarettes as they tossed playing cards on a blue mat underneath a matching parasol. A third guard greeted a young couple walking past the small office. Water dripped from their beautiful green dress and the newly tailored suit, but the rain could not drain out their linked arms and laughter. They made way for a sprinting dog followed by a child’s thunderous footsteps that moved quickly but spontaneously. Even the dog was happy.

I jumped, believing too much time had passed since I left my house. I had no watch, no phone, and no clock in sight. I ran to the security office and yelled for the time. Five past ten.

The clock in my room had said 10:00.

Each checklist, each mandatory task I created for myself chained me more and more to time. The overabundance of technology and a desire to feel connected to an outer world distanced me from what I needed most: a break. Time.

Controlling time in life is important. Perhaps now is the time to tune that rapid tempo of your life down.