When I watch a video that I’ve created, I simply think to myself, “thats what I saw.” When I view one of my videos, I look back on the day my Mom took me to the eye doctor to pick up my first pair of glasses. I was in kindergarten. We went to the grocery store shortly after, and I said “Mom! Look at all the colors!” It was a magical moment to me. At that time, I couldn’t believe the newfound clarity I was taking in. In retrospect, I could only imagine the joy my Mom felt, that she afforded me the gift of better sight.
When I look back at my childhood, my family didn’t have much, but we were always happy. I could see how hard my parents worked and I was aware of the strain on their faces, but I knew we were happy. We lived in a one room apartment and had one car. We had one TV. Friday night was always family night. We would go to Blockbuster, rent a couple “tapes” as we used to call them, buy some breadsticks from Pizza Hut, crank up the AC and watch a movie in the living room. My Mom and Dad always enjoyed each others company. I remember that they would drink wine in our small apartment on the weekends instead of going out, always content with the little we had. My Mom introduced me to a new world. We would spend hours in the public library, and she recounts that my enthusiasm for the library was similar to that of kids my age, except they held a fondness for toy stores. She enrolled me in Youth recreation programs and I experienced soccer and basketball but found an even greater attachment to swimming. In kindergarten, there were huge gaps in inequality. Some of my classmates lived in huge mansions on the hills of Silver Lake. She would arrange playmates for me, because even then, I was a very social kid. To put it in to perspective, my friend’s living room was bigger than our entire apartment. I didn’t feel bad that those kids had so much more. To me, it was just a way of life.
My Mom fondly recalls how I was always aware of our steadily improving standard of living. When we moved to Los Alamitos when I was in 1st grade, I told her, “Mom! Now we have two rooms! We have two cars! We have two TVs! We have two trucks!” In Los Feliz, at my old school, my Mom would give me cafeteria money once every two weeks so that I could experience pizza day with my classmates every other Friday. Eating at the cafeteria was a treat to me, but it cost too much money to eat there every day. At my new school with our added income, I could buy food every day. This prospect excited me as I always viewed cafeteria food as a luxury. I remember that I particularly enjoyed the bags of chocolate milk, yes, bags, that they served with our meals. I remember some of my classmates didn’t really like the cafeteria food and this was a rare concept to me because I viewed cafeteria food as a privilege.
My family moved to Chino Hills when I was in the fourth grade. On one particular night, I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up so late that I saw the Sun coming up. It was a night of anxiety. I thought of how we lived in a nice big house and had a brand new van. I even had a TV in my own room. For some reason, I was battling with the idea of whether or not I deserved all this luxury. I was distraught of the idea of world poverty and questioned why it was fair that I live with such luxury. I thought of all the times I had upseted my parents and I just wished I could turn back time and undo all my wrongdoings. At that moment in my life, I gained my awareness of the world.
The inequality we face today is more horrific than ever because modern innovation has exponentially exacerbated the gap between the rich and the poor. Countries like Brazil, Russia, India, China to the economic powerhouses of the United States and Germany, only to name a few, have developed such integratively complex public infrastructures that it is impossible for poor nations in Southeast Asia and Africa to ever catch up. They are literally left in the dust. They lack food and water. They lack electricity. Clothing. Shelter. They lack the fundamental elements of survival. Alternatively, technological innovation has ignited a new wave of globalization, intrinsically solidifying interests between wealthy nations whilst leaving poorer nations behind. The freeway only becomes so advanced as the anthill at its edge continues to go unnoticed as it knows no innovation.
Its funny to read memes like First World Problems, but sometimes I sit, and I think, really? I think that far too many people lack appreciation for the standard of living they enjoy. This is a product of societal ignorance. When people realize that there is so much worse in the world, I’m sure they’ll be able to find more optimism. Most kids my age live very easy lives. As my friend Taylor put it, we don’t work. We sit in climate controlled rooms and read books. We take tests. The hardest things we have to endure are tests.
I’m glad that, knock on wood, I’ve never experienced legitimate hardship. I sometimes wonder how my friends find strength within to push through despite the challenges they face day in and day out. I admire their persistence. I hope that if I’m ever faced with the same situation that I’ll be able to cope with as much confidence as they do now.
My parents have sacrificed so much for my family and I’m deeply committed to showing my gratitude to them. I’m committed to living my life for them and doing amazing things. I know that I’m different and that I should take advantage of my unique qualities. I’ve lately been reading upon the profiles of Rhodes Scholars, US Senators, and ambitious filmmakers, constantly questioning what I can do to reach the success that these people have. I constantly question myself, asking what I can do to ensure that I can raise my children with as much love and influence that my parents showed me.
I’ve been blessed with a lot, and even relating to aspects of my life as simple as filming, I will take pleasure in everything it positively affords me. I will be thankful that I my eyes are well for me to see and to capture light. That my ears are healthy and I can hear sound and can creates works of art by combining different mediums of communication.