Every path. It is my belief that just barely

Every Saturday morning, with nothing short of herculean effort, I wake myself just enough to pull up 24k Magic on my phone, lace on my sneakers, and begin my morning bike route around the neighborhood—an aggregation of various greeneries, man-made ponds, and murderous gators conveniently nestled in a quaint suburban wasteland. Reaching the entrance of my local music studio, I turn around and peer through the dense morning fog at a lackluster view of cookie-cutter houses, barely distinguishable from each other. Suddenly, a series of loud, mechanical beeps pierced my ears like a set of robotic cicadas. My Nai Nai, ever since I was young, has always warned me to take out my hearing aids whenever I decide to do any physical activity, lest my filthy sweat seeps into the hearing aid and fry it. Ugh, I can’t believe I forgot about that important rule. I take my hearing aids off and put them in my pocket to dry as I hurriedly walk into one of the studio’s vacant practice room. Once my allotted time is up, I exit the music studio, give the houses one last disapproving look, turn around, and begin my bike home—only to repeat the same routine next Saturday.There is no breathtaking view or unique wildlife, besides murderous gators, to draw me to my morning routine: it is the quiet stillness of the air begging to be reinvigorated by the satisfying symphony of musical notes clashing and harmonizing that instead excites my soul. My Saturday morning routine at the music studio is a series of fights to reach the core of my being: my fingers desperately running up and down the black and white keys, my eyes darting back and forth across the intricate musical notations, and my ears fighting against the unnatural confines imposed by my hearing loss, but I relish the challenge. I find my own form of enlightenment and satisfaction along the uneven, pockmarked path. It is my belief that just barely finding the mental strength to play the next note, and then suddenly discovering yourself unable to withstand taking another, is among the most private and surreal experiences a human being can have. While my ears strain against the weight of a thousand notes, I feel the most alive. The feeling must be parallel to what compelled Beethoven to compose his Ninth Symphony, or Stevie Wonder to sing the powerful “Living in the City.” It is the uneven paths—the exasperations, blunders, and tireless nights—that inspirit those courageous and stubborn souls to never settle.