University Of Michigan Honors Program Application Essay

Patterns exist throughout the natural world—trees, waves, symmetries are all expressions of order. Describe a pattern or patterns that you find particularly wondrous and tell us why.

In a 1957 interview, Ustad Ahmed Jan Thirakwa, a legendary tabla (an Indian percussion instrument) player remarked that “rhythm is the essence of life. Without rhythm, man can not move a step forward in any sphere of activity.” He went on to point out the rhythmic beats subconsciously created in daily life; the pace at which we walk, the rate at which we breathe, and the frequency of our pulse were all, in his eyes, different beats in the larger, more complex song of life. Today, science confirms his belief. Everything that he mentioned is part of a larger Circadian rhythm, a biological clock that times everything from brain wave activity to hormone production in the body. Although Thirakwa was never formally educated, her nonetheless intuited the existence of such a cycle.

As an obsessive artist who would practice his instrument for up to sixteen hours a day, Thirakwa literally walked and breathed in cadence. Throughout the world, it is the recurring pattern of rhythm that provides uniformity and structure to our lives. As a tabla player myself, I have perceived the world through a rhythmic lens all my life. Every morning on the way to school, the pattern of vehicles passing my car makes the song that prepares me for a new...

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