Wrestling with Literature | Cornell University Undergraduate Application Essay

Out of breath and hurting all over, I drip with sweat in the midst of a six-minute wrestling bout with my friend, James. While fighting on the bottom and gasping for air, I am reminded of Einstein’s words: “When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour.” When I read “The Aeneid” the hours pass in what seems like mere minutes, but when I am locked in James’s agonizing corkscrew for the third time, leaving me in a position too vulgar to describe, minutes feel like an eternity. Sensing my pain, our coach mercifully calls us off the mat. With a sigh, we slump down against the wall. Through strained breaths, James and I take our minds off the mat and discuss our recent literature in-class essay. As vehemently as we struggled on the mat we argued over the concept of free will on the Pequod; Melville’s epic distracts us from pain in the most uncomfortable of places. Whether our dialogue brings us to Orwell’s Airstrip One or Fitzgerald’s West Egg, literature gives us respite from the stresses of ankle picks and hip tosses.

In sports I experience pure euphoria, the physical manifestation of triumph. But I feel most comfortable with a book in my hand sitting on…

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