Today my uncle and little cousin came to visit me at work. I’m working an auto show in Fort Lauderdale for a few days, and they live nearby.
My cousin is 16 and thinking about the colleges he’s going to apply to next year. I know that his parents are kind of freaking out about it. The college application process is a scary thing. My uncle and aunt asked me about my memories of applying to college- specifically about writing the dreaded college essay.
Even though I’m now 30 and the college application process was more than 13 years ago, it all came back to me like a dream…sort of screwy and very vivid. My college applications were nuts- I applied to 12 different colleges and visited all of the campuses. I also wrote over 7 different essays, and took dozens of hours to complete them.
But the hardest part for me was always the editing. The essays were so hard for me to shorten- 650 words tops, and I went over every time. Once I had my essays edited down to total brevity, they were almost unrecognizable- little moments in time that never captured everything I wanted to say.
Thank god I got into NYU and the application torture ended.
But as I was walking over a drawbridge in Florida tonight, I thought about how life is like the editing process. You feel like the years go on and on, but really, in the end, you get to keep only a small collection of memories capturing the briefest essence of what came before. And then your small fragments of memory meander and cut off, vivid and dreamlike, and not exactly what you wanted to say at all.
Every moment is special. Every feeling matters. Live in the now and hold it close before it’s edited down to nothing. Because one day what feels like forever will actually fade and cut off. And our beautiful path will come to an end.