Valedictorian

It is still hard to believe, 
But we are approaching an end of a journey 
That we have walked on 
For so long. 
It’s amazing that you made it this far, actually.
Such great distance,
Without a single cramp in your foot.
You can say that’s a feat to behold.
But rather than talking about the end, 
Let us talk about the beginning:
 
As you all know, 
We were babies 
At one point of our lives. 
But has anyone thought of the first time 
You can ever remember living? 
You know, that first memory 
Of having a memory.
But there is one thing 
That I hold to be true:
Right when you left the womb, 
What you saw 
Was wonder. 
Pigeons, trees, lamp posts, 
Door frames, your cousin's acne --
You have never seen any of this before. 
The overwhelming process 
Of taking it all in 
After living in the dark 
For several months, 
It’s no wonder 
We had slept most of the time.
After all, it’s hard getting used to the light
When it can be so blinding
At first glance. 
 
But as you grew older, 
From infant to young child,
You were getting tired of the dark,
From the black behind your closed eyes,
So you start to touch what you have seen 
And have yet to see. 
You'd be lying if you say 
You didn't grab that open bottle of soda
And tipped it onto the floor.
You couldn’t resist
Stuffing a Lego or a mini toy car
Into your mouth
And have an adult on the verge of choking you
For almost choking yourself.
Everyday is an adventure, 
And everyday 
You start collecting souvenirs 
When you go back home -- 
Mental souvenirs, 
Your first batch of memories, 
Before dozing back into the dark. 
 
Yet when you start seeing the same wonders 
Over and over again, 
Your family, your windows, 
Your toothbrush, your box of crayons, 
They don't become wonders anymore. 
Once your mouth has captured a language, 
It can only express your world 
As ordinary. 
The sky. Ordinary. 
Steam from a teacup. Ordinary. 
Blades of grass. Ordinary. 
In such a short amount of time,
The adventure of everything and anything 
Has died. 
It is not mission failed, 
It is more like mission incomplete. 
 
Of course the wonder is still within you, 
But only for the things 
That catch your eye 
And make your heart beat. 
 
Oh, not everyone 
Can experience this class of wonder 
Everyday, 
Because some weren't equipped 
With a land rover
Or a helicopter 
Straight out of the womb. 
Some were not introduced 
To the exciting worlds of 
Wealthy inventors,
Ingenious scientists,
Or famous actors. 
No, 
We stay within the comforts of our own jungle, 
Our own home. 
At our doorsteps,
We do not see the pyramids, 
The Eiffel Tower, 
The castles of Amsterdam, 
The majestic pink dolphins, 
Or even Beyoncé
(and that’s pretty much 
the biggest disappointment).
 
Because of this, 
We now call our lives ordinary. 
Ordinary, regular.
That's how it stuck ever since. 
From elementary or junior high to now, 
Ordinary. 
That small gap in our lives was the Dark Age. 
This was when we prefer to close our eyes in sleep, 
When we preferred the darkness 
Compared to what we saw when we woke up. 
Everyday was almost identical:
The same notebook paper, 
The same sidewalks, 
The same change of seasons
(And knowing California,
The seasons we know are as different
As bacon and steak are to a dog.)
 
It is when we discover people 
That are extraordinary, 
People who excel in sports, 
Have godlike hairstyles, 
Who can do mental math, 
Are feeding your sense of being ordinary. 
Compared to the Golden Eagle, 
You are a pigeon. 
Compared to a hurricane, 
You are the steam from a teacup. 
Compared to a rose, 
You are a blade of grass. 
You’d think so far,
In your search for wonder --
The hunt for anything
That catches your eye 
And makes your heart beat --
You are allowed to give up trying;
There should be no difference 
With being in the dark 
When the light around you 
Is just as constant. 
 
But there is always more. 
We are more. 
That is why we keep living, 
On the quest for the unknown, 
For the extraordinary, 
For change, for resolve. 
For better or worse. 
You see, 
We are the best adventurers there are. 
We have all seen the Eiffel Tower 
Without seeing it:
Through a picture in a book, 
A TV show, the internet, 
The magic of imagining it
From the voice of a radio --
All collected as a mental souvenir, 
A memory. 
 
And we have kept these treasures 
For so long. 
They have reminded us 
To keep our hearts beating
Without them resting in our hands. 
From adventuring so often, 
We are bound to discover ourselves 
Through our discoveries. 
A simple doodle
Can uncover the skill of our hands. 
A victory in a game 
Beholds dexterity and instinct. 
Reciting the capitals of the U.S.
Calls for a great memory.
And good ol’ imagination,
The magic that makes us become 
Whatever we wish: 
 
For instance, 
I can picture all of us as drops of water, 
As mighty dewdrops.
Because you know what?
We didn't just moved on, 
We flowed on. 
And with enough fire, 
We can boil from the confines 
Of our pots 
And escape into vapor. 
Wind is now on our side. 
This is the day where we can start tumbling 
Into the endless air, 
Through muffin clouds 
And past the Milky Way, 
Rolling into a black hole 
With your mind probably full of donut holes.
And I can also imagine us in times 
Where we're going to aim high 
To only find ourselves descending. 
Whenever we land, 
Someday we might come back home, 
Wherever that might be, 
As long as it’s not solely in the dark. 
A water cycle does not exist for nothing. 
 
But enough about an element of nature. 
For us, we were all in the element 
Of a classroom. 
And though at times you wished 
You were never there, 
When you think everyone ceased 
To acknowledge your existence, 
You can always count on the roster 
To call your name
And hope that you’re always there.
 
My fellow students, 
Rather than trying to remember our first memory, 
We are now keeping track of our best ones, 
And most importantly, 
Learning from the worst. 
Because the bad news is,
You will experience dark, messy times ahead. 
But the good news is,
Not only you're a wild adventurer, 
You're also a heck of an artist. 
Call us Picasso and Van Gogh 
If you please, 
Because we're going to paint 
The best darn journeys anyone 
Has ever seen.
 
At this point, 
From traveling as high schoolers 
(with some amount of acne), 
We are still adventuring, 
Finding, creating, treasuring.
Our mission will never fail. 
Leave it incomplete. 
Because you all have so much more 
To look forward to!
 
This poem is about: 
My community

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