Seeing the Forest and the Trees

Paraphrasing of Northwestern application question:

Drawing a perfect circle seems simple, but is in fact a great feat that reflects diligence, devotion, and masteful skill in whoever can accomplish it. Describe a simple action that demonstrates some great skill you possess and which you consider important to your personality and in your life.

I laugh when people say that they wonder about the meaning of life. I ask them, what will you do with it once you find it? I then tell them, find a purpose behind your own life before seeking to explain all human existence.My friend was astonished once when she saw my face grown grave after parting with an arrogant and narcissistic student. She was resentful of his haughty comments, in which we both put little value; why then should I look so pained? I told her it was not what he said, but what caused him to say it, the absolute isolation he must have felt that drove him to build a wall around himself for fear of further rejection. We could not disdain such an arrogant individual, for in actuality, he would feel more loneliness than we ever would.My sister once said how intensely she wished she could fly. I said I too wished this, but asked her, if we could, would we still gaze at the birds with wonder? She said that was why she did not bother speaking to me anymore: I always answered with “something weird.”Something weird: perhaps I am too philosophical. Nevertheless, I tend to delve deep, and have discovered that it is not hard to find another side from which to view a situation, if I am willing to dig below the surface. I cannot say I am always successful, but generally, I examine without thinking; therefore, seeing more than the superficial is a simple action, representing a skill that characterizes me well.I have long attempted to perceive the most basic elements of any situation: the thread behind the tapestry, the paints behind the portrait, the motivations behind the man. I do not believe that, because of this, I am deprived of an appreciation for the whole. Such is implied by the saying, “fail to see the forest for the trees.” Rather, by seeing the rudiments of what I observe, I obtain a greater understanding for the entirety’s breadth and intricacy. After all, only once one has studied the miracle of life at its most elementary levels can one marvel at the culmination of so many simple processes: the complexly intertwined wonders of a human being.I believe this mindset comes from my upbringing. I was taught to see value in receiving what was most needed, rather than superfluous things that might be wasted. Whatever its origin, my ability to see below the surface has affected me greatly, for it is what originally compelled me to read philosophy, not in translated form, but rather in the true, unadulterated form in which it was written. This is what drove me to learn Greek, and study German and Latin. I am working hard at it, for it is not easy, but beneath the tribulation lies a whole world that I have not yet seen. It is like the murky abyss below the turbid ocean waves. This insight I shall soon see.

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