My daughter was admitted early decision to Tufts University, so the anxiety of the college application process is passed. One of her essays asked her to describe the environment in which she was raised and how it influenced the person she is today. It's worth sharing her observations on what constitute living the good life:
"At this moment, from a room of windows, I can see tall pine trees
framing a beautiful, soft green yard. A little vegetable garden lies to
my right, with lettuce enduring the brisk autumn wind. Above it stands a
lone maple gradually turning brilliant shades of fire. A heavenly light
illuminates the clouds passing overhead in the vast baby blue sky. The
wisteria climbs the windows to my left, waiting for a warm spring to
show its beautiful lavender flowers. The wind passes through the wooden
chimes hanging from our crabapple tree, initiating a clonking chorus.
Bamboo lines the white rock river with a little wooden bridge. A stone
bench rests near the fence, where my father sits and plays his
Shakuhachi (traditional Japanese flute). Cardinals, sparrows, and
grackles fly overhead, seeking food, warmth, and family. As I open a
window, a rush of sweet, crisp autumn cold fills my senses, making me
shiver. These wonders surrounding me in such a welcoming, beautiful, and
inspiring home and community fostered an appreciation for the subtle
things in life. I learned to openly embrace the world around me,
understanding and loving its everlasting beauty. Nature is a teacher and
a gift, one never to be overlooked. I’ve grown as a student, an
observer, an appreciator, and a believer in the magic and beauty of the
As a parent, I want my daughter to feel good about herself.
In her essay, she highlighted the simple things that bring richness
to her life - a vegetable garden, autumn colors, and a supportive
community of family and friends.
I can understand her point of view.
As I write this, I'm sitting in an old Morris chair, sipping Gyokuro green tea, breathing in wisps of smoke from Blue kungyokudo incense. Breakfast will be a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with a few drops of Vermont maple, and soy milk.
The ability to sit quietly and think, enjoy wholesome foods, and enjoy
the warmth and comfort of a small home while the weather outside is cold
and blustery gives me an overwhelming sense of well being.
I hope my daughter continues to appreciate that the good life comes from the basics of food/clothing/shelter/family/self-worth.
Tufts University is a great fit for her and I'm confident the next four
years will polish and amplify the foundation she's already built. As
she creates her own version of the good life, we'll always be available
for advice and support, but as of next Summer, she's a fledgling,
exploring the world on her own.