Spirits of the Past

6 June 2019

I was once told by my parents that there were no such things as ghosts. It didn’t take me long to see otherwise. When I was eight years old, I visited the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) for the first time while on a field trip with my elementary school. Since my sense of direction left much to be desired, I got lost about five minutes into the tour. Completely confused, I wandered into an interesting-looking exhibit, which I later learned housed an impressive collection of Greco-Roman statues. At that time, however, they just looked like gigantic people frozen in place. But what was freezing them? While sane people would point out the obvious fact that those statues were made of rocks and thereby could not act as normal people could, my eight-year-old mind (which, trust me, was never very level-headed to begin with) immediately began perceiving these artifacts as alive. What ensued was a daytime version of “Night At The Museum.” A disembodied head of a man in a Greek helmet began smiling at me, the people engraved on an artsy looking box started dancing with their swords, and a shiny, white-sculpted man rattled his pedestal and flexed his muscles. At this point, unaware that I was hallucinating, I ran away extremely frightened and with wet eyes and wet pants.

After I was sent home for insubordination since I “chose” to abandon my school group in an art museum, I realized something very important about my visions. Despite all the weird things I had seen the statues do, none of them ever spoke to me! From then on, I became obsessed with the question, If these ancient sculptures could speak, what stories would they tell? What would the figures on the aforementioned box (which, I later found out, is a Greek sarcophagus dating back to 100 BCE) have seen and experienced during the 2000-plus years they have been in existence? When I asked my parents this, they told me to go back to doing my math homework so that I could one day become a mechanical engineer just like my father. Ugh!

Spirits of the Past Essay Example

Regardless of my parents’ apathy, I was determined to know more about these age-old relics. I begged my mom to take me back to the DIA so I could take notes on all the artifacts in the exhibit. I also visited my local library to read up and gather more data on the contents of the museum. In fact, after gaining knowledge – like the fact that the bust of the head with the helmet that was from ancient Corinth, and that the acclaimed Hellenistic Greek sculptor Alexandros of Antioch may have helped design the engraved sarcophagus – I presented my findings for show-and-tell in my third grade class, presided over by the same teacher who had thrown me out of the museum two weeks before! The presentation went beautifully and when my teacher asked what inspired me to do so much extracurricular work, I honestly declared that it was all because she sent me home for “not following directions” and that if the rest of the class wanted to sound smart like me, they should consider doing exactly what I did on the next field trip. The entire class roared with laughter – except for my teacher, of course.

Ever since the ghosts of those ancient artifacts communed with me all those years ago, my desire to study history has gripped my spirit with a tenacity unlike anything I have ever experienced. I fully intend to pursue my historical aspirations in college because I will be able to interact with scholars much more historically inclined than my third grade teacher, and I will enjoy every day of learning. I have always been exceptionally curious, and when it comes to history, no piece of knowledge – however insignificant or risky to obtain – will ever escape my notice.

Author’s Note: This college essay was arguably my most personal. It is amazingly a true story and helped me get into college programs at the University of Michigan, Cornell University, and Dartmouth College.

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