Archive for March, 2010

The Essay that Kept Me Out of Harvard

March 12, 2010

It must have been the fourth weekend of math camp when I nearly died. Never before in my entire life had I ever truly pushed myself to any sort of substantial limit. 7th grade athletics was just about my most strenuous physical time up to that point. That weekend the camp director Max informed the campers that we would be taking a hike up Enchanted Rock. It is the second largest solid rock formation in the United States. Promising our safety, Max told us about the boy scouts and little children that frequented the trek 122 meters to the summit. I had never really been exposed to nature outside of my backyard after a storm so the idea of truly being out in one of nature’s masterpieces both intrigued and intimidated me. One of the head counselors, Phil, divulged about a cave which everyone should try to go through after getting to the top of the stratus. I figured, if I could make it to the top without losing my life, I could handle this cave. Once before on a Gifted and Talented field trip, I visited Natural Bridge Caverns. The tour consisted of a hike through a long underground cave. I figured this one would be no different. Underestimating the subterrane was my first mistake. After making it to the top, I followed the crowd to the opening of the cave. When I noticed a long line, I did not realize it was because only one person could fit through at a time. The first thing you had to do was lower your body into an unlit hole until you reach a grip on the wall to catch your foot. This mode of traveling through the soon to come narrow passages was not the only dangerous thing that awaited me. Once I was inside the cave, I had to constantly fight to keep from sliding down into jagged rocks or unknown openings at the seemingly endless bottom of the cave. After about thirty minutes, the whole procession of campers stopped. Someone could not pass through one of the openings up ahead and became stuck. No one could go forward and no one dared try to go back. Max decided after ten minutes of shouting amongst the students, it was time to go. A small bit of natural light reflecting down from the ceiling fortold of an opening furthur up. Max climbed against the steep wall and following some scraps and grunts managed to pull himself up the narrow opening to the awaiting air outside. A friend of mine, one who relishes attention, followed Max because we all realized that this was to be our new way out. Once he was safely up, he called for me to follow him. The other kids looked to me to confirm this moonstruck escape. I pulled myself from the crowd and positioned my body underneath the hole in the wall of rock. My hands and feet pleaded for gripping points along the surface I climbed and many times in vain. I called upon the friction between my skin and the rock to pull me up several times. At any point, I could have lost my bearing and fallen over fifteen feet to my awaiting friends. When I finally made it to the top and stood to see the view of miles and miles of trees and mountains, tears stund my eyes. “That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I would never do it again, but I loved every minute of it.” These words flashed across my mind as I sucked in the fresh air and helped others out of the cavern. If I had not went into the cave, I may not have known what my physical limits are today. I take this lesson and apply it to all the decisions I am constantly faced with about my future. Now that I am a senior, it is time for me to chose my next course. With Stanford University, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that it will be a climb I would never forget or regret. At times, I will be moving along by the skins of my teeth and I may not see the end, but I know it will be there. The risk now is applying and accepting the challenges that Stanford is willing to offer me. I do know that once I start climbing, there will be no turning back. Once I make it to the end and look back on the obstacles I overcame and the feats I accomplished, the view of the future that will await me will be fuller, clearer, and broader than anything else I could have ever imagined.

Breaking Her In

March 11, 2010

Dearest Lover: Say my name.

Dearest Little One: I can’t.

Dear Lover: Say it.

Dearest Little One: It is not mine to say.

Dear Lover: Say…it.