College Essay – Stanford University “What matters to you, and why?”

This reminds me of the monologue in “Bull Durham” when Kevin Costner says, (excuse the language if it offends), “Well, I believe in the soul, the cock, the pussy, the small of a woman’s back, the hangin’ curveball, high fiber, good Scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, over-rated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there oughta be a constitutional amendment outlawing AstroTurf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, soft-core pornography, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve. And I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.”

I only believe in one of those things, and it probably isn’t the one you are guessing.  The designated hitter rule in the American League still feels like cheating to me even though I have lived in an American League city for 31 years. Roll Tribe.

What matters to me?

Fixing my mistakes, and they are many.

Trying to help kids understand that who they are matters more than what they know.

Sitting in a church a couple times a month, praying to a God I am still bashful around.

Listening to music, finding the perfect song.

Eating food around a table with people I know well. Surrogate families.

Having a person I can be soft and quiet with. Being soft.

Seeing the world and by that I mean, really seeing it.  The colors, the sounds, the seasons, the water rippling, the sky changing, the slug and her spots, the stretch marks on the trees.

Trying to find beauty.  Trust beauty.  Rely on beauty to bring me back around again.

What matters to me is what my camera teaches me.  What books shift in me.  What shows and movies can reverberate in me.  Learning matters to me, ripening.

Words. Writing.

Speaking up when there is injustice – to anyone – stature does not tend to stop me.

Healing.  From what, I am not sure.  How?  That too evades me.  But I try.

Trying to have, seek, and shine light, even though I have darkness in my bones and buried in my brow.  Trusting that my belief in goodness, though sometimes naive, stays burning.

Working hard.

Being kind.  Opening doors, letting people merge, saying please and thank you.

Trying to make my father and brother proud.

Doing well, being someone others rely on.


Having important conversations.

Telling the truth, even when it hurts or is scary.


The ridges and rocks out west, how they make me feel like I am the right size and that I belong in a world that is grand.

Knowing, perhaps too acutely, that this is my one precious life and I ought not fritter too much of it away. All the while, loving frittering. Feeling easy, calm.

What matters to me?

Had I compiled this list as a senior in high school, I would have used more highfalutin words: I would have fostered a something, or claimed a myriad of something else.  I would have said something about striving and goal-setting.  I would have made sure I wrote in paragraphs with nice smooth transitions. I would have thought about what the readers would have wanted me to say.

Had I been honest then, I probably would have said that these things matter to me: playing tennis, having a  crush on David J. and making it through calculus without letting anyone know how confused I was.  I’m pretty sure that would not have gotten me into any college, not even my safety school.

Now, what matters to me are the things that matter to me.  They are non-negotiable, and not at all determined by what some else might need to be impressed with. I aim, not narcissistically, to be selfish responsive with what I want to do with my time and energy and my love.  Thank God I know what really, really, really matters to me (a take on what Elizabeth Gilbert says).  And thank God I have a chance to keep figuring this out as long as I shall be lucky to live.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.