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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Are we alone?

I shivered passively in physics class, listening to my classmates' distant questions of black holes and time travel, staring at "Figure 7.3" and the crude illustration of our solar system it provided. My brain flounced around an idea more fascinating than centripetal force: how big was the universe really, when compared to the 3x5 image in my textbook? From the back seat on the car ride home, I watched the dull stars in the dusty night sky, attempting to conceptualize just how far away those clear flicks of light burned. I could not imagine it. It was impossible. The universe was too big, and I was too small.

I did not feel insignificant, however. Perhaps I should have? After all, when compared to the orbits of the planets or the explosion of the stars, my everyday actions mean little to the universe as a whole. If I had never attained "being" some other human would fill the role I was supposed to have played, but the solar system occupies an indispensable function. The universe existed before the faculty of time, whereas I have existed for a mere eighteen years; it feels like a nanosecond in comparison. But no, in the face of these under-developed thoughts, I did not feel insignificant.

After all, I am human. That makes all the difference. As long as another human exists in this reality, I will never be irrelevant. There is something in the fiber of our being that connects us, and in this connection we find our significance. While the universe is full of matter and anti-matter, the human spirit is privy to something far more mysterious: the intangible reality of reason, emotion, ideas, and souls. An individual completely alone has no reason to love, no reason to serve, no reason to live. A person alone is insignificant.

Fortunately, these immaterial hints of love and logic we share lend us our significance. The fact that this idea is difficult to articulate does not mean it is merely a poetic notion. Donald Williams, a NASA astronaut, explains that "For those who have seen the Earth from space, the experience most certainly changes your perspective. The things that we share in our world are far more valuable than those which divide us." That which every human has in common is what guarantees that we will never be completely alone.

It does not matter that language and textual communication limit my ability to relay precisely what I mean. It does not matter that I can never completely know the mind of another. It does not matter that people and communities and nations are separated by conflict and misunderstanding and selfish ambition. It does not matter that all these factors divide me from my fellow man. We are all build from the same intangible stuff, molded into diverse individuals through the same ingredients. Philosophically, anthropologically, psychologically, and spiritually, I am not alone. It is a fact of existence, it is the definition of being human.

[This is my first attempt at answering the Tufts' application essay prompt "Are we alone?" I was hoping to work in that TS Eliot line "What life have you if you have not life together? There is no life that is not in community" but the Donald Williams quotation was more pertinent. My approach to the prompt is cliché, but it was the only thing I brainstormed that I could write honestly. Critiques plz.]

4 comments:

Micah E. said...

Your introduction, while an excellent attention grabber, does not exemplify you as a model student.

Michael said...

I agree with Micah but think that that's okay.

I think you should quote Lilith: "I say now that a man alone is but a being that may become a man."

Anyway, I actually really enjoyed this, and I think that it is fairly well written. Thumps up.

Siobhan said...

what type of essay model are you using? I got your thesis, but what are your points?

that being said, i loved it. your appeal to pathos is stirring and your imagery is masterful. i could read your writing forever, i love it that much.

Art said...

Your writing is very eloquent.

I think my main comment about this is that I'm unsure about your train of thought... At the end, you seem answer the question, saying that we are not alone because we are human. The beginning seems connected to that thoughy, but backwards. Couldn't you show first that we're not alone, and then why that makes us significant, rather than saying we're significant and justifying with the assumption that we're not alone?

But excellent work, Hayley, I think I'm going to read this again tomorrow.