Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
Nestled in the verdant outskirts of the humble town of Tinjaca, my great-grandmother’s farm rests in the rolling Colombian hills — a rustic tribute to the agrarian culture of my forefathers. Upon entering the little hacienda under the original log veranda, one catches a brief glimpse at the quiet beauty of a life filled with simplicity. With a packed dirt floor below, white clay walls, and simple wooden furniture sparsely but purposefully distributed on the patio, the hacienda offers nothing materialistic, nothing that detracts from the exquisite wilderness that flourishes a couple of steps away. The tropical sun above gently moves the shadows cast by the few clouds; these shadows saunter over the elongated reeds of grass that a cow’s pink tongue is relishing and cast into relief the seemingly endless expanse of viridescent land, dotted here and there with the vibrant colors of tropical flowers and foliage. In the background, an outdated radio plays the romantic vallenatos that my great-grandparents danced to many decades ago on this same dirt floor. A scent wafts from the kitchen on a slight breeze. My grandmother is making buñuelos — a traditional Colombian pastry.
It is here, surrounded by the richness of the Colombian landscape and its culture, that I am perfectly at peace. Looking out onto the gorgeous vista, I can begin to forget all of the complications that daily life inevitably brings. There are no alarm clocks here, piercing the peacefulness with their blaring, their inescapable reminders. There are no essays to be written here, no assignment demanding an x-word-long description of the land and its parallels to scenery from The Grapes of Wrath. “Here” means finding peace within myself and relearning what it means to be a child of two entirely different cultures.
In the suburban neighborhood I often call home, following the standardized daily routine can make it difficult to remember where I come from and how that heritage has shaped my identity. But in the state of perfect contentment I find on that simple little ranch, I am struck by the ideals of my forefathers. Those men and women worked to live so simply and honestly, because they loved life in its intrinsic richness. It is this same humility that I carry back home in hopes that I will not only work as diligently and joyfully as they did, but also remember to sit back and witness life in its inherent beauty.