AP English Language and Composition
24 October 2019
I’m a bit of a strange fellow, I must admit. It started when I was five years old. I’d seen my father tinkering with his laptop, an old silver-colored Sony Vaio running Windows XP, making the colors on the screen change to form images I could recognize. My weak eyes froze in fascination, and I began begging for him to teach me how to tame it.
Soon after, I’d started writing. I made text-based games out of Bash scripts, decked in an ornate display of colors, and I’d give them to my younger brother. The thrill I would get from creating an experience, built to my specifications, was motivating. It drove my childhood; every day I’d toil away at school work with computers in mind. Everything I learned I took as knowledge I could apply to making a better experience. More entertaining, more satisfying, more quality. Over the years I’ve learned more and coded more so I could make the best program that sits, just waiting to be made.
My lab is the closest thing to me. My station of creation changes in appearance often: a wooden desk, a gray table, an office, or a classroom. Wherever it is, it’s my domain, and without it I would be someone else. I go through my days with judgement, frequently at the design of buildings, policy, tools, and society, questioning the decisions of others in their endeavors to get something made. Perhaps it’s narcissism, or a need for purpose, but plenty of times I’ve thought “I could do better!” and so I think of how I’d do so. Office chairs, ceiling fans, the gray on those pants, and those beige-y tans: well done in execution, awfully planned. It’s the same thing with software, just with more jargon and politics. Programming is best akin to filmmaking if filmmakers were physicists. A director sets out with a vision in mind. The story they wish to tell is their truth: an idea they wish to convince the world to remember. As children, we’d heard of Aesop’s Fables, stories that taught lessons concisely and elegantly to anyone who could listen. With the most basic stories, such as that of the tortoise and the hare, the purpose of an author becomes evident. I am a programmer: a writer trying to tell a story of design and function through logic and calculation, as a physicist seeks to tell the stories of reality.
Programming is my purpose. I cannot give it up, even if I wanted to. Perhaps out of stubbornness, I must see my wants become the reality I live in. Frequently, I wonder about the past and the future, of the great giants and the greats who stood on their shoulders, and I ponder whether I’d rather have lived in their time, among them. I’d held da Vinci as my role model through childhood as the unrelentingly unapologetic Renaissance man, complete in spirit through his quest to complete his knowledge. Often, such romantic stories get to my head. If given the choice of when to live, I’d pick now. I’m a 21st-century man, wholly. Without computers, I wouldn’t be me. There have long been dentists, doctors, lawyers, politicians and priests, but never before a programmer. The future is mine to shape, here and now. If I weren’t open about my purpose in life, I’d be dishonest through omission. Without pretense, I live to change and progress, and not for anything else.