Blank Canvas

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

It was in my freshman year of high school when my father gave me the gift of a desk for my new room in our new house. A small black desk from Ikea. A desk that went unused for the first year I owned it. It saw no work. Housed no books. It sat empty in a corner. Little did I know at that time, that desk would become my creative sanctuary and become my canvas for love, calligraphic drawings, poetry, books, and faith. My blank canvas.

Towards the end of my freshman year was the time I took on the proverbial rose covered shackles of life, the religious texts gifted to me by my father. My mind and my desk’s untouched bodies first experienced the heaviness of the religious texts. I placed them and I left them to adorn on the left side of my desk and the Mecca of the books I placed in the middle. Even though those books were shackles and they held me back to an extent, I learned how to take passion in my work and loyalty in my craft. I spent every waking day reading and memorizing those books, finding the secrets that they kept, trying to find the meaning hidden in every word. I memorized Twenty One chapters of the Quran out of the 114, not a lot by any standard, except at my home where I was the only one to memorize so many. The books about the ethics and morals of the prophets flooded my mind, I would have drowned in those thrashing waves of standards and rules if it wasn’t for my pen and the ink that bled from it.

On top of those books, I placed the white paper with black ink fashioned into cranes carrying the name of God. From the split-tongued reed pen of my passion, I let lose the creativity which my mind stretched for. In my sophomore year, I filled the drawers of my desk with pots of black ink and pens of reed and bamboo, whose sole purpose was to glorify the exalted. I found with these new guests to my desk that there were other and better ways to pray and to show love rather than to obey. I wrote poems about love and the sighs of the waves that crash on the shore of Orphalese. My poems, drawings, and all of the ink that ran from my eyes let open a brim light from the edges of the door of knowledge. I pried that door open with wonder and doubt.

It was in my junior year when I began to look more thoughtfully at my rose covered shackles. I peered beyond the roses to stare at the vine and I began to see the chains which I wore so beautifully. That is when I felt the full burden of those shackles when I started to shake them. I found new ways to pray and to love: with Hegelian thought, Gibran’s poetry, Sartre’s view of freedom, Selzer’s doubt and fear, Dostoevsky’s life, and Gerry Spence’s love for people and the search for Justice all taught me and showed me the ocean of life that I wanted to be a part. It is also on this frontier of my desk that I explored and exalted the books of the question and doubt that rock the foundations of the left side of my desk and the bindings of the books which lie there. I pay homage to all parts of my desk to learn as much as I can from every outlet of knowledge to learn every facet of life, so I can be a part of the ocean of life. I still have empty shelves on this desk of mine. I aim to fill them with new ways to pray and to love.

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