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Small handwriting sample of Leila's First-Year Student Journals, link to journals home page
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A Beautiful Day for Understanding Freedom

These four years—a gift, a pause, an acceleration—an opportunity to make the ensuing post-college years wonderful and adventurous.

I am here to ask the important questions. I think that is why we are all here.

Define freedom. Today was a very special day. I found, for the first time, a grasp on what freedom is and what it means to be free. Not that I hadn’t thought about it before. No, no, my whole senior year English class was devoted to the “American Dream,” which is closely associated with freedom. And our society and our instinctual impulses revolve and thrive off of freedom. But I had never reached a definitive conclusion. I am slow to reach conclusions—they take time to evolve, time to be exposed to all of the evidence, time to congeal. But today freedom made sense to me.

Let me step back. About five months ago I enrolled for the summer class, Rhetoric 309S—argumentation and persuasive writing. About three months ago, the class began. It was small, intimate and exciting. We got to choose our topics of debate and ask the questions we felt were important and attempt to sift through the evidence to find the solution. I was inspired by the class and I thought the teacher was great. Two weeks ago I e-mailed the teacher to ask to have coffee with her and follow up on some questions and debates we had proposed in class. Today, we met for coffee and began chiseling out the sweet and sour of the world we live in today.

I feel so naïve trying to understand the root of the world’s problems and trying to understand the ultimate purpose and plan of how to go about creating a solution to those problems. I know that for ages, humans have worked hard and long, stretching their brains and extending their limits, to create utopia, or at least a better world, and I suppose this very minute that they continue this pursuit, constantly cranking out questions and answers, and more questions and working to fix the glitches as they go along. All that is required of me is to go along and exist. But, I don’t entrust others with the job of asking all the questions that matter. In fact nobody should. We each have a personal obligation to ask those questions ourselves. For example, what is beauty? How real is the man sitting next to me? Do trees think? Is a feeling made of matter? What does it mean to live with soul? What is a soul?

Asking these questions is like putting leaves in the water. We put as many as we can out into the water and see what comes back. Some return immediately. Some take years and years.

Right. Freedom. We all have one life. That’s approximately 25,550 days if you live to be 70. Some have far fewer days, some have far more. We should all have the freedom to dream, dream up wonderful magical dreams, dreams beyond our wildest dreams, and then have the freedom to actualize our dreams. That is true freedom. That is true living.

Within the last 37 days, I have come face to face with a few of my dreams.

I flew this last weekend. I flew an airplane. Those small circular plane windows don’t do justice to the wide-open view of the cockpit. A good friend of mine in the UT flying club asked me along. I have wanted to learn how to fly for sometime, but it is an expensive hobby so I thought I should give it some breathing space before I made the investment. But I didn’t have to go to this dream, it came to me. We flew to Galveston. After a one-and-a-half-hour plane ride over Texas countryside, we ate some fresh seafood, swam in the sea, walked on the beach, learned how to hula, hopped back on the plane to catch the sun melting into the horizon and thus concluded a beautiful day.

Let’s see. I joined the Texas Crew. I have always wanted to be bionic and I love boats. Texas Crew offers the right ingredients.

I made the UT Mock Trial team. Very exciting. In fact, it was the night of the UT Mock Trial party, when upon arrival to the party I could feel the excitement of fiery debates and finally exhaled because I had found a “hot pocket” of life (see Journal 1 for reference).

I am working on trying every snow cone flavor offered at the snow cone shop on Lamar Boulevard. (I highly recommend visiting if you find yourself in Austin.)

There are a lot of other people here looking for the truth, looking for better solutions. But there have always been these people with this drive. It’s a human quality. It is why we have come this far; it is what will determine where we will be tomorrow.

We all have one life, this life, to actualize our dreams and settle any inner yearnings. It’s a lucky chance to have four years to devote to accumulating tools and skills to aid in making the rest of your life everything you want it to be.

Scrolled in stone at the entrance to the UT Tower reads the words, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

So it is not a question of if, it is a question of when. The sooner you ask, the sooner you will find out…

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