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“Showing Progress” Essay

“There’s got to be more to life than weekend coffee at Delany’s,” I remember saying out loud. Sitting in the same cozy corner of the coffee shop, gossiping about whose boyfriend had cheated on whom and raving about the latest fashion trends over warm mugs of mocha had become all too familiar and stale. I wanted a change. I needed to recapture the adventurous and undaunted spirit of my childhood. Curled up on the plush sofa with my mocha in hand, I stared into the mug, watching the swirl of chocolate slowly dissolve into the rest of the concoction. I didn’t want to become that swirl of chocolate that eventually melted away from the rest of the world. Closing my eyes, I sank deeper into the sofa, and my thoughts carried me away. . .

As far back as I can recall, I have tasted life with gusto and an insatiable curiosity. When I was a child, each day seemed like a stream of adventures. I was a little spitfire who joined in on all of the rowdy games that my older brother and his rambunctious friends played. We fashioned parachutes out of Glad garbage bags and jumped off the patio benches hoping to float safely downward. I the emulated moves of kung fu masters and used my brother as a punching bag. My mother had high hopes of transforming me into a concert pianist, ballerina, or at the very least a “dainty little girl”. My father had high hopes that I would become the first doctor or lawyer in the Khoe family. My brother had high hopes that I would leave him alone. But all those family dreams seemed to vanish as I dashed out the door to speed away on bike excursions or raids on the neighbor’s vegetable patch.

Nowadays, I channel my childhood exuberance into doing what I love most: venturing out into the world. Savoring life beyond coffee at Delany’s, however homey it may feel, opens a myriad doors out there. When my coffee ritual first began to feel stagnant, for instance, I volunteered to serve meals at a Union Gospel food kitchen just across the bridge from my neighborhood. Being able to bring a smile to the face of a stranger with nothing more than a plate of food forces me to think twice about the comfortable life I so easily take for granted. Sports add yet another dimension to my life: playing competitive tennis not only strengthens my physical and mental discipline, it also brings allows me to meet new people. Acting and dancing allow my imagination to soar freely and help me to shed my inhibitions: on the stage, I can become anybody I want to be. Outdoors, scaling mountains pushes my physical limits. Reaching the summit of Grouse Mountain on a recent climb, I felt as if every muscle on my body screamed out for relief. At the same time, my entire being exploded with aliveness and pure exhilaration.

It’s probably too late for me to become a concert pianist or ballerina, and I may never become the family’s first lawyer or doctor. Whatever I choose to pursue, I know that I will attack it with the same passion I had sharing those adventures with my brother. I still return to Delany’s occasionally, but it’s no longer the same old mocha; I have switched to a caramel machiatto.

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