Sunday, November 1, 2009

On Having Finally Completed the College Application Process

A human brain can only stretch to hold so much knowledge at once, though one may well argue that not all brains are created equal, and I would like to believe that my own brain is flexible. I recognize, too, the distinct difference between what I truly do not know and what I simply don't understand. I don't understand Snell's Law, despite the fact that its formula (n1sinθ1 = n2sinθ2!) has embedded itself into memory. I don't understand why the letter "E" was overlooked in the development of the modern grading system, but I know for a fact that letter grades move directly from a D to an F.

I am not scared of what I don't understand. Some of it I question and seek to reinforce, some of it I allow to rest unobtrusively in some lower layer of my mind.

What I don't know, however, intimidates me.
I don't even know everything I don't know.

I do not know why I instinctively dislike being alone. I do not know why I am afraid of clowns, or why, when surrounded by 50 bandmates dressed up as my fear personified, I begin to shake and have to close my eyes to prevent tears from betraying my façade of calm. I do not know why burnt Cheez-its taste infinitely better than regular ones, or why I have always put my socks on before my pants, or why, for some reason, I am far more talented at parking a vehicle to my left than to my right. I do know, from trial and error, that this is truly unarguable, but I truly do not know why.

I don't know why my current performance in Topics Calculus stems mostly from my teacher's skill, despite the fact that I know I am intelligent and I have always displayed a certain aptitude with numbers, but I recognize that the concepts thrown at me on any given day would fly right past my head were it not for the man standing at the front board.

I do not know the Muffin Man.

I do not know why poetry flows within me, through me, from me as easily as does the alphabet from a proud kindergartner. I do not know why I love so freely and unconditionally. I do not know why this choice to live with an open heart has led to as much hurt as it has. I do not know why I trust everyone without precedent.

I don't know what my future holds, and I doubt that the fortune teller situated off the highway ten minutes from my house knows, either. I don't know when I will die, and I honestly don't know whether I would want to know if I could know. I don't know if everyone has a soul mate, and, supposing everyone does, I don't know if I will ever find mine. Maybe he was that boy from that passing car on July 4th. Maybe he was. I don't know.

I do not know if someone found the message in a bottle that I so dutifully set afloat seven years ago. I do not know if someone will ever find the time capsule my sister and I buried eight years ago before we moved from Pembroke to Duxbury.

I do not know how to read minds, and so I promise not to attempt to read yours.

I don't know if a package of essay questions is truly an adequate representation of me as a person, but I also don't know any other way of expressing myself to a college through the U.S. Postal Service.

I don't know where I will get into college, and I don't know what colleges will reply to my obese manila folder with an anorexic envelope whose contents reject my diversity.

I do not know any of these things, but I do know that I feel forever more passionate, spontaneous, and alive among these unknowns.

I do not know how to explain myself.
But I do know I am a certainty among uncertainties.

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