Light Another Candle

Sarada Symonds, Editor-in-Chief

One of the best things about living in the Bay Area is the easy access we have to the city. During the holidays, I love going into San Francisco to see the decorations, the lights, and the huge tree in Union Square. It’s not officially Christmastime to me until I see that tree; it just gives that extra quality of magic.

My family has been seeing the San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker since I was able to talk, and those are some of my best memories.

My favorite holiday tradition is going past the windows at Macy’s and seeing all the puppies and kittens they put out for adoption. They’re so cute, and they’re always playing with each other. The Humane Society of San Francisco brings them to Macy’s, hoping they’ll be adopted, and it breaks my heart that they may not have a home for the holidays.

This year, I was close to convincing my mom to adopt a precious German Shepard mix.  Unfortunately, because she works, and I’m going off to college, it’s just not feasible for us to get a dog. It takes a lot of work to care for a dog; not only do they have to be trained, but they also need to be walked, cleaned, and fed daily. It would be unfair to the puppy.

Rescuing a puppy takes a commitment I just can’t offer since I’m leaving home within a year. Even now, I’m focused on myself, on my coursework, on my grades.

These past few years have really been about me. What classes am I taking? Where am I going to college? What do I want to do with my future? People tell us that high school and college are when we should be “finding ourselves,” but this self reflection might be a bit extreme. We become the center of our own, personal universes.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of giving, and empathizing with other people. I’ll be honest though, my first thought at Christmas time is not giving presents, but receiving them.

It’s so difficult having to find that balance, between thinking of myself and thinking of others. It feels selfish to be concerned about college applications, when others have to worry about where they’re getting their next meal.

At Campo, we’re fortunate. Most of us will have the opportunity to attend college. It’s expected.

97% of the 2013 graduating class attends college. So it’s easy, at least for me, to get caught up in the competition, with the obsession, of getting into the most highly ranked college possible.

Yet, I’m fortunate to even have the opportunity to attend any college. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66.2% of high school graduates in 2012 attended college, putting Campolindo far above the national average.

But when I grow up, I don’t really want to be someone who’s focused only on myself. I want to contribute to the world. I want to make sure other people have the same opportunities I had. I want to contribute to this planet, leaving it a little brighter than when I found it.

I admit to not being the most caring person. I’m no saint. But I don’t want to live my life just for myself. It makes everyone, including me, worse off.

In the short term, if I’m only concerned about getting myself to college, it will lead to disappointment.

Life is short. Our lifespans are insignificant relative to the universe. If our lives are lived solely for ourselves, then we will all fade away when we die, as if we were never here in the first place.

Lives aren’t just measured in years. They’re measured by the people we touch.

I like to believe in the butterfly effect. Not the physics phenomenon, but the belief that if you do one kind thing, it causes ripples. I don’t know if I’ll create some invention that’ll change the world, but I can be a good person.

Gandhi said, “A thousand candles can be lighted from the flame of one candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness can be spread without diminishing that of yourself.”

I want to light at least one other candle. And hopefully, that candle will light another candle, and that flame will spread. One day, I will be able to adopt a puppy from the pound, and hopefully make its life a little better.