“Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?” This is one of the new essay prompts for the 2013-2o14 Common Application.
For the past several months, I’ve spent some time each morning reviewing the events of the prior day, using the practice of the daily examen. As I reflect upon my day, I ask, “Where did I feel most alive?” — and “Where did I feel drained of life?”
It’s interesting to see the moments that surface in that brief period of morning quiet. As I notice the places where I feel at home, as well as the places where I feel alienated from myself, patterns begin to emerge that help me live more purposefully.
Listening to the moments helps us listen to our lives. As Annie Dillard wrote so eloquently, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
How are you spending your days? Where are you finding life, peace and contentment in those days? Where is the life being sucked out of you? I invite you to listen. Write down what you hear. It will be time well spent. You might even jumpstart your way to a great Common App essay.