One warm summer evening just over a year ago, I picked out a book from my parents’ bookshelf and flipped to a random page while attempting to pass time. The book, known as the Tao-te-ching, is a famous work by the ancient Chinese Philosopher Lao-Tzu written more than 2500 years ago. Because of its age, the book is written in old Chinese, which makes it very difficult to read. Interested just in passing a few minutes, however, I flipped through the pages at random, looking for anything to catch my attention.
And suddenly, right in front of my eyes, I see a quote which sets my brain in motion: “This journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ” In general, I do not think quotes can be long enough to be meaningful. However, looking at this quote, I feel a shiver run down my spine as I realize that these words written far back in time have a true meaning to me. For in my own lifetime, one small decision that my family made influenced my whole life, and has led me to journey many miles both physically and mentally.
It was when I was four years old that I took the first step in a journey which would influence my life forever. My cousin was learning to play the piano and her parents suggested that I learn to play as well. I was enthusiastic about the idea of doing something new, although at the time I had no idea of the amount of impact this one decision would have on my life. From very early in my studies, I began to develop an emotional connection to music. While I was playing the piano, it seemed as if feelings and thoughts which had been living inside of me were suddenly being released into the outside world.
I was struck by the power of music; while enjoying one of Prokofiev’s War Sonatas, I was transported to the dark, dangerous place that was Russia during World War II, whereas while performing a work by Mozart, I was transported to a gamboling, carefree, and joyful world filled with youthful innocence and vigor. And music has had the power to bring me to many new physical places as well. Thanks to the piano I have traveled across Asia and Europe to play with various orchestras and to compete in numerous competitions.
I have met and played for luminaries such as US secretary of state Hilary Clinton. And finally, piano brought me to America where I continued my studies at the Juilliard School. Funnily enough, my travels as a result of the piano made me realize the diversity that exists in the world; they made me realize how many different ideas and people all exist simultaneously. And this brought me a desire to learn as much as I can, to expand my intellectual and physical horizons, and to understand as much of the world as I can.
This is what led me to the decision not just to attend a Music Conservatory, but to enter an Academic University and venture into new territory. And while I eagerly await this unknown path I am about to take, I am certain of one thing: without the tentative first step of beginning the Piano that I took when I was four, the eye-opening journey I have taken over the past thirteen years would never have begun. And I know for sure that the Piano will always remain a part of my life.