An Epic Adventure

Melanie - Moraga, California
Entered on January 4, 2009
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in the pursuit of knowledge. I believe that it is a lifelong journey, a dedication not only to facts and words but also to what’s unearthed by a search for the unknown. To me, knowledge doesn’t only come from textbooks, but from an unquenchable curiosity. It spurs people to do great things, to find the answers to their unanswerable questions. I believe in opening a book and milking every word for the meaning it contains, in using my own two feet to travel the earth, in using my life to experience everything available. Because if I discover more about what is around me, maybe I will become a little less lost to myself in the process.

As a child, I read voraciously. Though the television was entertaining, I also spent hours at the library, fingering the shelves for titles that would catch my eye. When I went outside, I lived countless imaginary lives beneath the trees in my backyard. As Guinevere, Nefertiti, or Queen Elizabeth, I wielded the power of an invisible scepter. Enamored with history and the truths it could teach me, I was enchanted with the possibility that someday I too could discover something great.

But it wasn’t until a trip to Ireland that I felt the full force of knowledge, inspired by an ancient book of Illuminations. It was at the Trinity College of Dublin that I first saw an exhibit on the Book of Kells, a manuscript of the Gospels transcribed by Celtic Monks around 800 A.D. Looking at yellowed pages ribboned with symbols and words inked in vibrant hues, I was humbled. That the monks had hunched over this tome, spending their days dedicated to adorning a single letter, to putting to paper words that they saw as the highest order of wisdom and truth, left me awed. This was their personal pursuit of knowledge, poured out over parchment, and it had endured the weathering of hundreds of years.

And I knew, walking between the lofty bookshelves in the Trinity College Library, that I wanted to learn all I could. Though the noble spines of the books that surrounded me seemed so daunting, I knew my own pursuit of knowledge had started. Maybe somewhere, in those 4,500,000 volumes, or in the world’s countless miles, or in digging in ancient ruins, my role in the grand scheme of things would be outlined for me. And that is what makes knowledge eternal; that by undertaking a voyage without compass or map and without gaining anything material, somewhere in history we will find that everything somehow makes sense.

So I believe in hunting down knowledge. I believe in finding it in words, in history, in pictures, in books, in movies, in people, and in songs. I believe in taking that step towards your own epic adventure, in going outside your door and giving all you have to your personal quest for answers. Maybe, in the process of chipping away the dirt from a stone sarcophagus, the dust will reveal to me the answers I’ve been searching for.