Resilient Ideas


Racing with the Waves


I cannot walk on Water, but I can swim decently.


Swimming is best when I can race against the waves. I try to dive through their crest while they try to crush above my head and to unyieldingly turn me upside-down and up and down again until I wash ashore trembling. It is blasphemy to challenge the waves. In a way, applying for a Ph.D. at Yale is akin to blasphemy, too. Isn’t it hubris to believe that I am worthy of being chosen amidst over 200 splendid applicants to 15 positions? Will this wave engulf me or let me ride on its back? In any case, challenging this wave is not about self-aggrandizement – it is about self-empowerment. I go for this once-in-a-lifetime chance since I need to take it in order to leverage my values: compassionate coexistence of human and non-human beings; veracity between and within people; the triumph of sentience over profit. My love for everything ensouled is indomitable, and so is my determination to make it thrive.

So do I have what it takes? My supervisor-in-spe warned me that in order to be considered for admission, “they want you to walk on water”. Yes, I have always been successful, blessed with a good sense of understanding and suaveness. Yes, I have clear career prospects and I am endowed with skills and talents to optimally capitalize on what I will learn at Yale. I can make a convincing case for my excellence, if that is what admission officers would like me to do. But the truth is that, chances notwithstanding, self-empowerment means sacrifice. Earning a doctorate at Yale equals sacrificing what is dear to me: the physical closeness to my family; the dialogue with the shores of my home and its reviving waves; interweaving myself with the places, trees and animals that I love so deeply. I would sacrifice my soul-nourishments for the years of seeking the power of skill and status that come with a Yale Ph.D. – and the hope of therewith saving these and further families, shores, places, trees and animals. Is that naïve? Is that fatuous? Is that what it takes? Be it as it may, that is me. I may be unable to walk on water. But I can swim quite decently. Let the waves write the letters of recommendation.