Sampling Clammy Ivy Green African Paste

Megan - Austin, Texas
Entered on March 22, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in sampling all the victuals on my plate. From the day I was born to the present-sixteen years in total- I have traveled. From the remotest parts of the Great Wall of China to the sites of Shackleton’s exploration from the shores of Lake Titicaca to the sands of Northern Africa, I have traveled.

When I was a little kid I hated to travel. Being gone the whole summer at Count Dracula’s castle, Machu Picchu or hiking the Cotswold’s, I would imagine all the fun my little playmates would be having at home, living their childhoods, without me. Instead of living said childhood, I would be trudging through museums, tediously touring and testing my endurance during unending archeological lectures. My parents were adamant that my brothers and I taste every local dish, learn phrases of the local vernacular, and became knowledgeable about the history and politics of the country we were exploring. Choosing to opt out of any new experience was unacceptable in my family. As a kid I saw my parent’s demands as cruel and unusual punishment, this idea of practically being home schooled over the summer. In my mind, my parents were incarnations of Satan, obsessed with making my life miserable. Only as I grew up did I realize that my parents were simply introducing me to unique experiences that contributed to the formation of my identity and made me a worldlier individual.

Today, I believe in sampling every opportunity that presents itself, for without living outside of my realm of the known, I can never succeed. Every opportunity is like a new food dished out hot on my plate, just waiting for me to test the flavor. The size, quantity, ethnicity, location, texture, color, none of it matters as long as I am filling my life with experiences. To give up any opportunity, whether it’s seeing the birth of a child, tasting Fijian cava, listening to the fading heartbeat of a friend, smelling the rotten sulfur of a geyser, or feeling the smooth paint upon a rough canvas, is to deprive myself of an experience that gives me definition.

I am defined by my experiences, the knowledge I obtain, the mistakes I make. The victuals on my plate are experiences, knowledge, and mistakes waiting to be made. Those who are sheltered, protected, confined and who shy away from the unconventional are wasting the victuals of life and will never be independent or unique. Life is full of risk. From the moment I step onto a plane, open a closed door, or enter a foreign country, my life is at risk. I believe living is the ultimate risk and living can only be accomplished by experiencing the unknown. So go ahead, take the risk, live, raise the unidentified, clammy, ivy green African paste to your lips and take a nibble. We are not immortal.