Simon Kim ’19 has traveled to the majestic Grand Canyon and beautiful beaches, but when it came time to enter a contest where he would document the wonder of nature, he chose a more humble subject, closer to home. “I decided to write about a piece of nature that I always cherish, albeit rather mundane or common, and has never failed to inspire me,” he said. He chronicled the frequent walks he’s taken in his home country of Korea on a route called the Zen Path.
“A small road for cars is lined by two walkways on either side, and the Path is teeming with gingko trees, painting the sky a sublime yellow during the fall,” he wrote in his essay. “Every first snow, when the trees have been robbed of their leaves, skeletal branches shivering in the wind, I appreciate the Path’s solemnness. My mother has accompanied me down this Path many times, and we reflect on life together, in the past and even today. In many ways, the Zen Path is not just My Path, but Our Path, and symbolizes the relationship we have with each other and our surroundings.”
The tactic paid off, and he won for his entry, “Illusive Reality,” to the Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder/Sense of the Wild Contest. Simon collaborated with his mother, and the piece goes on to celebrate the juxtaposition of humanity and nature: “The Zen Path brings together the gray, concrete road and bright gingko leaves shaped like butterfly wings; the rumbling of passing cars and the rustling of idle trees; fast-paced Humanity and steady Dame Nature. Just by walking this Path, we can experience the best of both worlds, side by side. This ultimate antithesis, the Zen Path, has been our haven, our refuge, and in times of peace as well as discord, has always been there to help us clear our minds and calm our anxieties.”