Posted by Christy Purnadi
Same old, same old. Another airport. Another trip to Washington DC. As my 5th time to our nation’s capital, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. In my mind, there wasn’t much that DC could offer me. Looking over the itinerary, I sighed. Nothing piqued my interest. In fact, I even dreaded some of the parts on the trip. I wasn’t looking forward to meeting stuffy, old politicians jabbering away while I tried to keep myself awake. I wasn’t looking forward to walking in the beating sun to see sights that I had already seen. Quite frankly, this trip seemed like an absolute waste of time.
This attitude stayed for the first couple of days. Bored. Running through the motions. Being shepherded along. Dragging my feet, the trip felt more like a chore than an enjoyable experience.
“Ok, we will only have a few minutes before we get kicked out, so come quick.” I followed the tour guide to see the Library of Congress. My eyes widened, and I’m pretty sure my mouth hung open like an idiot. Sure, I’ve seen the library before, but it never fails to give me a sense of awe. I’m the kid who has to be dragged out of the bookstore or library. Ever since I was young, I have loved books. So seeing the Library of Congress from behind a glass panel gave me a mixture of emotions. I was struck by the magnitude and beauty of the place, but I longed to reach out and be a part of the library, not an outsider. So that evening, during our dinner time, two friends and I rushed back to be official readers of the Library of Congress.
Our excitement was nearly tangible. All of us had goofy smiles on our faces, and you can see in my picture that I’m cheesing hard. With library card in hand, I zoomed around, trying to take in as much as possible in the limited time I had. In that moment I felt alive. I hadn’t had this kind of excitement and enthusiasm in a long time, and it helped me continue the trip with an open mind and an attitude of wanting to learn as much as possible.
I entered bored. I was disillusioned. I thought there wasn’t anything left for me to learn, but I was struck by the magnitude of knowledge in the Library of Congress. I was reminded that despite the way the education system is set up, learning should be done for the sake of learning, not for the grade. I realized that I’m not going to enjoy everything that I have to go through. To think that I will love everything that I do is naive. But I have realized that everything provides a learning opportunity. One of life’s greatest joys is being able to learn and use what we learn to make our experiences richer and more meaningful.