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Photo by Jeff Hire

I had planned, some months ago, a quiet few months after graduation. It has been a hectic year, and I was looking forward to winding down towards the end of it. Reality has been very different. Work has taken its toll. There is much to do for the holidays. On top of that, if I am even going to consider the possibility of more graduate school, I need to get applications finished in December, which is a tall order. Last month I found myself with a free day, a bunch of applications essays to write, and nothing but resentment about having to write them. In a effort to change my attitude, I went to the park near my apartment and found a beautiful yellow tree to sit under with a notebook and a pen. 

After a few minutes of silence, I asked the tree, why do I have to do this, anyway? What if I just give up, decide to shut this particular door altogether? The tree answered me, you can do that, but it is in your best interest to write these essays anyway. What are they really asking you to write about? It’s about what  you want to do, and why graduate school is a good place to do it. It would be good for you to know that, to have to write about it.

So I opened my notebook and started to write, as if I were writing to the tree, about what I wanted to do. When I got home, I had some translating to do. What a yellow tree will understand, a graduate admissions committee may not. But I left some of it as-is. I didn’t give in too much. If I’m not honest, how will I know if acceptance by an admissions committee really means I’ve found a place where I can pursue real, meaningful work?

Today, I have only one more application, and then I’m free… for now. It’s cold outside, and a bit icy, and I miss my tree. I would be a very good day to go sit under her branches, and ask her to remind me, again, why I need to do this.

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