This is the word for word Personal Statement (who gave me permission to use it) of an applicant who elevated above a top law school’s medians and was admitted. Kudos to her and many thanks for letting me share!
I sit and I play. I play until it is too dark to read my music. Then comes that indescribable moment, sought by all musicians, when thinking becomes subordinate to instinct. The music is no longer just sound, but poetry spoken from within.
I love to play French horn at dusk. Before I begin to play, I imagine the most beautiful conglomeration of sounds and expressions traveling through the air. I take a deep breath and immerse myself in the music that I love so much.
Playing a Strauss concerto or a Beethoven sonata represents, for me, the culmination of countless hours of practice and hard work deciphering fingerings, tempos and pitches. In this transcendent moment, though, when I play in the darkness of the room, I think not of the fingerings and the intervals that I need to execute, but rather of the expression and interpretations that make the music mine. I play late into the night with nothing on my mind other than trying to make each note I play the most beautiful and sonorous sound. I hear the ethereal tone of my horn echoing off the walls and saturating the air.
There is something intoxicating about dwelling in a single moment in time. Hours spent trying to perfect a note that is born in the soul and travels through the air to live no more. The endless pursuit of one moment of perfection ultimately not mine to have and to hold. My life is spent pursuing these moments.
In college, I found that my fascination with musicality and expression translated easily to literature. When I first read *Lolita, *I recognized in Nabokov’s writing the same lyricism that I always strive for when playing French horn. I saw the same passion I so often feel “in the moment of music.” I immediately fell under the spell of Nabokov’s enchanting prose and artfully chosen words. It was the most beautiful story I had ever read—the story of a grown man, head over heels in love, driven to murder by forbidden concupiscence. I began to empathize with this man, thinking to myself, “How terrible to love someone so much… someone so unattainable.” And just like that, I found myself rooting for a pedophile.
Perhaps it was my passion for music that allowed me to fully see this side of Nabokov’s “hero.” Life is rarely black and white. I found that I could empathize with someone who was desperately trying to hold onto something so poignantly beautiful, something that could never last, while at the same time being completely aware of his gaping flaws.
As I learned reading *Lolita, *Nabokov’s clear love for and mastery of language, while incongruently romantic, is at the same time capable of transforming the depths of one’s perception and understanding of the world. There is a power in words, not only to entertain and enlighten, but also to persuade, convince and even transport. I have seen this power manifested in the plea of an applicant for political asylum, in the argument crafted on his behalf and in the judge’s ultimate decision, which can bring a human being out of danger and to a new life. It is this power of expression and my desire to master it that draws me to the law.