All eyes were focused on me. This was it. The tension had been building up to this point, and I knew there was no way out. I had gotten myself into this predicament, and I was the only one that could get myself out of it. There was nobody to turn to, for they were all waiting for my final move. I had never felt so alone, so isolated.
I thumbed through my cards for the fourth consecutive time, and I could still not decide which one to throw. I glanced up from my cards and caught a glimpse of each player. I immediately felt the intensity of my brother’s eyes glaring at me from across the table. He did not provide me with the support and reassurance I was looking for from my partner. I shifted my eyes to the right. My mother, having just discarded a five of clubs and seeing that it was of no use to me, was sipping coffee with a carefree grin of relief. Then I peered directly at the most intimidating canasta player I have ever encountered. Great Grandma Rose was calmly humming a tuneless tune which added to her enigma. As this crafty eighty-eight year old lady squinted at her cards through her bifocals, I knew that time was running out; I had to make my decision. The most obvious choice was to discard the king of spades for which I had no use, but I was afraid that she was waiting for this card. My alternative was to break up my meld and throw the six of clubs, a card which I felt somewhat safe in throwing.
In the midst of my despair, great grandma delivered the final blow. She stopped humming and uttered these dreaded words: “It only hurts for a minute.”
She could not have dug a knife any deeper. My brother’s eyes were flaring with tension, I had complete control over his fate, and I knew our team unity was riding on the outcome of my decision. I therefore decided to play defensively and throw the six of clubs. No sooner had my discard settled on top of the pile than my great grandmother’s hand darted out to snatch up the stack of cards and my brother simultaneously belted out a scream. “The six of clubs? How could you throw the six of clubs!”
I wanted to ask him if the king of spades would have been any better, but I knew a rebuttal was useless. I knew he would get over it soon enough, and like Grandma Rose says, “It only hurts for minute!”
After my great grandma laid down her meld and sorted her cards, the game continued (and so did her humming). Although we lost that particular hand, my brother and I miraculously came back to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. As we reveled in our triumph (my brother had now forgiven me for discarding the six of clubs), I could not resist directing my newly acquired quote at our opponents, who were mulling over their defeat. “Well, I have only one thing to say.” My smile was so big that I could feel my cheeks stretching. “It only hurts for a minute.”
Although my great grandmother had no intention of being profound, this quote actually embodies an important concept. Many people spend so much time worrying about the infinite possibilities that may result from any decision they make that they actually never make a decision at all. Although it is necessary to weigh the options and consider various viewpoints, excessive deliberation can often be detrimental. From personal experience, I have found it is usually better to think about the choices and come to a firm decision rather than to prolong the problem and perhaps create a new one by avoiding a commitment one way or the other. The best course of action is to make the wisest choice possible with the available information and then to make the most out of your initial decision. Even if in retrospect you see a better alternative, you can always pursue a new direction based on what you have learned through this experience. Surprisingly, what may at first appear to be failure may often spark an unforeseen success. I have learned not to let undue hesitation hinder my ability to take advantage of opportunities. After all, as my great grandmother so eloquently remarked during those heated canasta games, “It only hurts for a minute!”
This essay begins with an engaging introduction that creates much suspense. However, the reader soon learns that the topic under discussion (cards) is not as earthshaking as the opening paragraph would have us believe. The exposition is overly dramatic (“Then I peered directly at the most intimidating canasta player I have ever encountered.”), showing that a student should write to the level of significance of the experience—not beyond it.
For most of the piece, the reader is left waiting impatiently for a point or thesis. When the writer finally gets around to broadening the discussion, he resorts to trite language and generalizations. Because he has left all his introspective points for the end of the piece, he forces his views upon the reader instead of gradually illuminating them throughout the essay. Though the applicant states that he has learned from his experiences, the reader is left with little beyond clichéd rhetoric.