Princeton Quotation Essay
Hello essayforum people, I could use some help here:
Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.
"...This is no time to tire... The man who lies asleep will never waken fame, and his desire and all his life drift past him like a dream, and the traces of his memory fade from time like smoke in air, or ripples on a stream."
- Dante Alighieri, The Inferno
During my 5 years growing up in Shanghai, our family flew quite frequently to and from America in order to keep my U.S. citizenship active. My many times aboard passenger jets deeply imprinted a sense of wonder in me for all things aeronautics. Each flight, without fail, my face would be glued to the window as the turbines spooled up with a terrific roar. Once in air, I had around fifteen hours to let my mind wander.
During those long stretches of boredom, I often dwelled on the incredible progress made since flight's humble origins. Flight had become a link between worlds. It practically connected my two utterly disparate cultures, allowing me to be shaped by both the sleepy, quaint neighborhoods of the diverse American Midwest and the ethnically homogenous, bustling megacity of Shanghai. All the while, flight itself was acting as perhaps the most powerful influencer. I found myself dreaming of working in the aerospace field, contributing to the magic that allowed families and friendships to stretch across impossibly vast distances. But I guess I was an atypically pragmatic kid. I set aside my dream, sure that I wasn't capable of pursuing such a career.
Years later, a hilariously anticlimactic event triggered a shift in my thinking: I read The Inferno. As I was making my way through Canto XXIV, Virgil's desperate plea hit me like a sledgehammer. A chill ran through my scalp, and suddenly, I was absolutely terrified of my future. The doubt that had been festering in the back of my mind finally reared its ugly head: was I truly content relegating myself to the mediocre? I had, in fact, been lying asleep, passively reacting to life. It was not a lack of effort but a lack of purpose. I had day to day objectives pushing me forward but no grand aspiration to guide me.
With this in mind, I woke a slow-burning hunger for challenge and progress that I didn't know I possessed. This hunger expressed itself through my passions as an exacting desire for excellence. I made great leaps of improvement in the ISKC and the Hersey percussion section, shooting up the ranks to black belt in 5 years and reaching first chair in 4. Academically, I took on optional challenge problems in physics that took massive amounts of time and effort. Martial arts, music, and physics were already passions before, but now I also viewed them as catalysts for bigger and better things far down the road. And so, I raised my expectations.
Of course, I'm not afraid my memory fading from time. Nor do I desire fame. Virgil's words merely reminded me of life's brevity and value. Some dreams are worth chasing: I want to wake up one day knowing that my 8 year old self would be proud me.
Feel free to tear it apart. Much appreciated guys!
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Albert, The latter half of your essay where you discuss having read Inferno and then getting hit by a sledgehammer is perfect for the quote. You should work on developing that aspect by taking parts of the quote and relating these to your life. I don't particularly see a connection between your dual citizenship, your interest in aeronautics as a child, and the way Inferno created an impact in your life today. Since the first part of the essay is irrelevant to the quote, that is, as far as I am concerned, you can remove that total section and instead, focus on developing the quote as it relates to the activities that you performed and achieved in the last half of the current essay. I suggest you relate it to how it helped to shape or change your view of the world. You can use the connection between the Chinese and American cultures if you wish. In the discussion, you can talk about how you fear losing one identity in lieu of the other because of the opportunities it affords you. Or you can discuss how you are desperately trying to keep both sides of your culture relevant in your life but, as Dante said; "the traces of his memory fade from time like smoke in air, or ripples on a stream." The connection of each part of the quote to your life is important. It is imperative that clear connections are made so that your values and/or change in world view will be clear and evident to the reader.