Discovering Beauty Within a Book’s Bindings

Write about a meaningful activity.Describe an experience that affected your development.

I often find myself momentarily stunned by small, jewel-like moments that make up this life. For this I must thank books. I always loved to read, for reading allowed me to contemplate life in a way that reality never did. The novelty lay, I think, in my ability to savor the emotion that a few well-strung words could create. Though equal emotion was evident in real life, it often whizzed past me before I could capture it. With literature, however, I could lay within a rose-garden all day, bathing ecstatically in the sudden warmth of a well-phrased description. This is not to say, however, that literature was simply an escape. In fact, I found it to be quite the opposite. Literature provided me with insight into the subtlety of the universe. After all, if a few ink-splotches on a page could conjure up an image of absolute eternity, it must follow that each and every thing which we encounter possesses hidden depth. I began to gaze at the sky, to look at clouds differently. I felt a sense of awe upon viewing the gracefulness of lithe fingers plucking weeds from the ground. In even the most ordinary occurrence, I found beauty. Unfortunately, there came a day when I stumbled upon words that did not, could not, provide any feeling of warmth. My women’s studies class required me to read a book chronicling the injustices forced upon women worldwide—a history of rape, murder, and above all, hatred. Though I was certainly not unaware of the injustices in the world, this book recorded a story of violence that was almost impossible to fathom. For days I attempted to put my findings into perspective, yet my ruminations almost always acquired the face of a battered Congolese woman with wide, pleading eyes. Finally, I decided to turn to literature for a cure. I was fortified by the image of Salinger‘s Phoebe innocently riding a merry-go-round in the bittersweet rain, and Kerouac’s Sal Paradise whispering a lovely goodbye to a woman beneath wide California skies. Even that Congolese woman, I decided, could find beauty in the purity of a child or a meaningful goodbye. And though I knew this was not enough—that hatred still existed—I was also reassured that it could be conquered. From literature I learned an important truth: goodness exists all around us. Within books I have found optimism, and a sense of profound appreciation that my life is not confined within a book’s binding. I can breathe, laugh, love, in a way that no fictional character ever will. There is no doubt that it is an invaluable gift, this life, and must be made the most of—even amidst crisis and heartbreak. For books have taught me that ultimately, there is always a resolution to be found, even if it must be found in the smallest, most insignificant of moments. I have also learned this sort of resolution does not always come openly or easily, especially for those that are suffering. So it is my wish to create positivity for those in the world who have not been fortunate enough to indulge in the pleasure of a literary rose-garden and, in doing so, glimpse the infinite beauty of the universe. In this way, they, too, can learn to believe in a world that holds an inestimable amount of hope.

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