Author: Kaycee Conover
On one hot night in a dark room at the heart of Boston, I became friends with 19,580 people in one single moment. We had all journeyed to the TD Garden from wherever we were in our lives to see Tom Petty perform. I knew his music because my mother had shared it with me. It meant something to her and it meant something to me. His music meant something different to every person in that room and all those meanings, all infinite number of them, wrapped around the music notes and existed in harmony on that July night. I had to close my eyes. It was as if I could hear the heartbeats of every person in that room, pulsing along with the rhythm of the music. By sharing his music, Tom Petty gave me a striking awareness of 19,580 people that live and feel alongside each other. Tom Petty will live as long as people feel.
Lights flashing beyond my eyelids, I could feel what it was like to live more lives than just my own. Tom Petty's art described his life, but it has weaved its way into those of so many others. My own, my mother's then and when she was my age, and all the strangers around me who didn't seem so strange anymore. We all have to go through our own lives and our own challenges, but just because we have our own lessons to learn doesn't mean we are alone. I looked into the smiles of the crowd, the dancing arms and carefree yes, and realised we were all feeling something of our own. But we were feeling it all together.
With the shared heart of others, I can travel vertically through time and horizontally through space. I long to make connections and there are no boundaries that limit how this can be done, not even time and not even space. Imagine trying to count how many people have ever been inspired by the Beatles! Music is an honesty that you embrace more than escape. I sit in front of my piano for hours, copying the rhythm of until it feels right. I'll never tire of hearing another tell me how they're feeling without using any words at all and letting it become part of me. You can't hide from your feelings when someone else is telling them to you.
And so I have become a curator of feeling. I am always listening, collecting the art of others. I have stared at paintings until they stared back at me. I cry while I watch almost every film, sometimes just because the characters are nice to each other. I'm as moved by the narrative of my old American Girl Doll books as I am by Dickens. It's all swirls of feelings, of lessons from others that mirror those you need to learn yourself. Art embodies empathy and empathy has become too easy to lose touch with. Art is the same world seen from a different heart. I look at characters or creators and think, "How did you become the way you are?" I can look at others and think the same thing. And I have the chance the ask them.
Tom Petty did not write "Breakdown" just for me. Hard Promises comforts more than just me. I cannot live life from just my own perspective. Art exists in everyone. I embrace my hour-long commute to school as a chance to start conversations through the life that flows from my speakers, using old tunes to understand the world through my neighbors as we talk of our favourite colours or the abstract nature of time. My dad doesn't seem so distant when we talk about our mutual love for The Band. This is how our moments are made. This is how we find the music that surrounds all of us, all in each other.
#1 “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story.”
#2 “The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?”
#3 “Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.”
#4 “Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.”
#5 “Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?”
The sail of the ship was a tongue. The vessel rolled over the waves of text, stammering on the punctuation marks before again finding its balance, gliding over the vowels. The seas were sometimes rough, the surface revealing the cause of such commotion: white caps spraying consonants into the surrounding ears. Where was it headed?
Language carries an intangible yet pliable kind of beauty. It is a concept that never ceases to call forth within me a renewed sense of wonderment. I often peruse through the memories of my past in an attempt to locate the origins of my attraction to the Spanish language—to understand just what lured my 7 year old mind to the seas of foreign speech. I have come to realize that maybe it wasn’t a feeling that suddenly sprung up but rather one that always existed, floating in the waters of my mind. Perhaps it was the way Spanish sounds carried throughout the air, euphonious and smooth, a stark contrast to the English sounds I had grown up hearing in Georgia. Perhaps it was my want to understand my best friend when she spoke to her Mexican parents. Perhaps it was all of the above.
Spanish words filled the air with vibrations my tongue wanted to know. After experiencing such fullness, I couldn’t help but despise vacancy. I subdued the silence and made it my duty to collect words and sounds and store them below the deck. The time that I once spent buried within the pages of novels and finger weaving with my grandmother’s yarn—was now shared with filling journals with newly learned phrases. My interest in language, however, was not limited to Spanish, although it remains my first obsession. Hangul, the Korean alphabet, was a puzzle I had taught myself how to piece together as an 11 year old yearning to familiarize myself with the foreign. The Arabic alphabet is a system I still have yet to come even close to mastering, but I try. At times, I close my eyes and embrace the touch of braille, and at others I open them to drink in the sight of hand gestures—American Sign Language.
I filled my hours with dissecting sentences and fighting my greatest adversary: time. I consumed articles, books, interviews, and dramas on my journey to understand new cultures and manners of communication. The dramatics of El Clon and Eva Luna plagued my speech, and my then 10 year old being was charged with awe. I carried language on my tongue, and in response, it carried me. Where was it headed? Now only one of two non-native speakers enrolled in my AP Spanish Literature class, I can still say that my love for the language has yet to wane. I only wish others shared such a passion. Those that do not care for such sound exploration reflect a disinterest that eventually manifests into ignorance. With every passing day, the world shrinks in size, and I see it only fit that we adapt by learning the tongues of our neighbors to increase our sense of unity. Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” I continue on aboard the ship cruising through the letter fused waters. Where was it headed?
I aim to cultivate understanding—to fill the gaping aperture between cultures with appreciation.
Language is my way of doing so.