Beyond the Books
Education is much more than living with your nose in a book.
I was sitting on my bed, with my computer in my lap, with papers sprawled out around me studying for junior year finals. Mom knocked on my door to ask me if I wanted to spend a week at Cape Cod. My immediate reaction was, “I would love to but I can’t.” I had summer homework and was stressing about college. After much convincing, I eventually decided to go; I would bring my work along.
Weeks later, Mom and I headed to the cottage in Dennis that my family has been renting for twenty years. Upon arrival, I was still hesitant about the trip. I brought with me so much work that I felt more like a freshman lost in her giant backpack than a vacationer.
Little did I know I would barely open a textbook the entire trip, but I would learn much more than I ever expected…
I went to the beach, swam, and hung out with a rotating crowd of family members. For once I could take a nap in the sun or even throw a Frisbee. I read, but not what I was “supposed to” for school; I sprinted after the ding-dong cart. But the most fun I had was playing in the ocean with my Uncle Jeremy as if we were ten year old kids. We were fooling around in the water one day when my knee and Jeremy’s eye became acquainted.
“Way to go,” he said sarcastically, “Seems to me you should stay inside and do that homework of yours; nobody will get hurt that way.”
That’s when I broke down. I told him about my insecurities: how I feel so much pressure to be perfect. I miss out on so much that I am hurting someone– me.
“I might not be something special in this world, but I’m happy,” he said. I then began to think. I always knew I wanted to be somebody, but maybe that wasn’t all that was important.
“I work so hard in school,” I told him, “I want to be successful, but I don’t want to look back when I’m older and realize I didn’t balance my life as well as I should have.”
I got to know myself better that week. I realized you can understand how the tides change but without going out onto the sandbars to look for hermit crabs, you cannot fathom their wonder. The chemistry behind how fireworks explode isn’t spectacular if you can’t appreciate them on a summer night. And your car’s speed is irrelevant if it doesn’t bring you somewhere worth going.
All of high school I have lived and breathed theories and formulas, but now I realize science is so much more. It is both tedious nights with an open book and lazy summer days. That union is what inspires innovation, and I want nothing more than to be a part of it.