Student Essay Example: Finding Stillness in Life
by Story2 Guest Author, on Oct 4, 2016 7:50:12 PM
This blog is part of a series featuring supplemental college admission essays written by Story2 students. Sophie’s essay was chosen because of its effectiveness in utilizing a driving question that weaves in specific moments where she builds and reflects on how her experiences are changing who she is and her unique perspectives.
By Sophie, Unity College ‘20
I deleted my Facebook in tenth grade. I’m also not on Instagram or Snapchat. I don’t even have a smartphone. While using these, I was not participating in family dinners, but rather checking whether my post had received more than 30 likes. Moreover my friend Carol had just told me that she had seen a post written by a “friend” rating her “not hot”. When I asked her why she didn’t delete her account, she said “I need to stay in the loop...I don’t want to be disconnected”. This despite the betrayal of her friends! At that moment it became obvious to me that Facebook was not only addictive, but also a destructive tyranny. “Like this post for a rate”. Girls actually can like a guy’s post in exchange for a looks rating of 1-10. Facebook I have found to be a nasty catalyst for hurt feelings and insecurities forming. What is real human interaction?
My trip to Alaska this past summer was the beginning of the answer. Looking out at miles of snow capped mountains, I understood. You cannot even see the peaks, because they surpass the clouds. Glaciers form near the peaks, and the sun reflects off the ice, creating a sparkle. I understood how one single person is so minute and that all our preoccupations are small in the vastness of nature. I spoke with Vickey, a native of Alaska. She explained to me what it was like to live outside the main city of Anchorage, and therefore off the road system. In these remote villages, villagers are not connected to the internet, but they are “connected” to their friends. There is custom amongst the elders that states that if you have chosen a person to be a “friend”, it is implicit that you will die for that person. I then asked Vickey how I could break free from the material prison in which my generation now lives, to which she responded “find stillness in life.” She told me a story. She and her nephew were at a butterfly garden. She asked him how many butterflies he saw, and he answered fifteen. She said “I see thirty three. You have to also look at the ones that are not moving and therefore not obvious in order to see the big picture.” She went on to explain to me that every entity on the planet, every animal, plant, has a soul and purpose just as humans do. I understood something critical then, and I will remember what Vickey said to me, because we were together and she said it to me in person. It didn’t need to be in print to leave an indelible mark on my mind. Finding that stillness in life is what I crave.
I actually like talking to people about the weather; it really is a substantive, meaningful topic. I have found that many people assume this topic is filler, a way to avoid an awkward silence. However, discussing the weather is quite beautiful, because we all share it, and we did not create it.
One day toward the end of the trip, after hiking for miles through thick temperate rainforest tundra, we waded through a river where schools of salmon swam freely past us. When salmon spawn, they shut down their immune and digestive systems and die. For years, scientists have studied why the salmon do this, since they are the only species of fish that will die after they mate. It was eventually discovered that salmon do this on purpose in order to make room for the next generation and to supply them with nutrients. This cycle is too perfect to be accidental. This sense of being connected is what humans have lost. We are also part of a cycle and continuum, and during our short time involved in it, we must use our passion to contribute to the inexplicable macrocosm.