Jian Min Agnes Tan

English Comp 3, Section #32

Dr. Gudas

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Letter of Recommendation: Sunsets

I am an avid fan and a staunch
believer of waking up early. Luck, however, wasn’t on my side this semester.
Having no morning classes and a class from 4 to 5p.m. every day, I already knew
that it would be a trying semester ahead. Being used to ending my day by noon
last semester, I was worried that this change would conflict and disrupt my
daily routine.


To make things worse than they could
ever be, the 4p.m. class was on linear algebra associated with n-dimensional
Euclidean space. How does the professor expect me to comprehend things in four,
or five dimensions at such an ungodly hour, when my brain can already barely
function in the morning with two-dimensional, linear equations? During the
first lecture, the professor explained that the upcoming topics we will be
covering include: orthogonality, matrix algebra, subspaces, bases and
dimensions as well as eigenvalues and eigenvectors. Although I lived and
breathed mathematics, and numbers constituted my vocabulary, I struggled to
understand every single word he just mentioned.

After what felt like an eternity,
the class finally ended. Dragging my feet out of the lecture theatre, a
dreadful twenty-minute walk back to my apartment awaits. How frustrating, I
thought to myself, wishing this seemingly foreign class was never part of my


With earphones plugged in, I
embarked on my treacherous journey. With eyes glued to my phone screen like a
typical teenager, I started replying text messages, before moving on to the
almighty Instagram and Facebook — applications that we can’t live without since keeping
up-to-date with all our “friends” has grown to become a necessity. Being
connected has become one of the most fundamental values ingrained in our
society. Pervaded by our thirst for immediate replies, instant messaging
applications like Facebook Messenger, iMessage and WhatsApp now include read
receipts and “last seen” timestamps that allow people to know when you were
online and active. This causes all of us, users of instant messaging, to be
under constant pressure; a read message without an immediate reply is deemed as
rude, impolite and unacceptable. Undeniably, technology developments in the
twenty-first century have created a generation of impatient beings — those who expect
everything at lightning speed whenever they wish. After all, everything is
merely a click away.


I, too, succumbed to the effects of
technology. My Instagram
feed was taking longer than usual to load and my patience started to
wear thin. In an act of defiance (honestly, more of exasperation), I glanced up
from the piece of glass that I am guilty of staring at way too often.


I stopped walking immediately.

It was sunset. I watched with an
unfaltering gaze, as a fiery, golden orb of light slowly dipped behind the
horizon, and streaks of light lingered in the sky, mingling with the moving
clouds. The skies were adorned first magnificent hues of orange, then
tangerine, then pomegranate pink, until all that was left of this masterpiece
was a chalky mauve, and then that faded away into obsidian darkness.
Sequin-silver stars like the glowing coals of a dying fire winked down at me,
illuminating the pitch-black curtain draped over the sky. Suddenly, the clouds
divided, and I found myself looking at a luminous, radiant disc casting brilliant
rays of moonlight onto the tenebrous grounds. Against the night sky, this
single pearl had mercilessly stolen all the attention to itself.


That was breathtaking. I was
mesmerized by the beauty I had just witnessed. The colors of sunset were
majestic. Still in awe, I checked my phone for the time, a concept I was
completely senseless about since being engrossed in the wonders of nature.
Thirty minutes had passed since I was last on Instagram. Within the past thirty
minutes, I witnessed the sky transform from shades of salmon to scarlet, and to
amethyst. Within the past thirty minutes, our globe was cloaked with wisps of
bright pink, cotton candy clouds that have slowly evanesced into the dark sky.
Within the past thirty minutes, the biggest star had given way to thousands of


There was something exceptionally
beautiful about the sunset. In the thirty minutes, time slowed down. While
being riveted by the sky and witnessing its masterpiece, I subconsciously
regained control of my day. I was rejuvenated, a feeling I would never have
gotten if the internet connection didn’t choose to slow down just as I was on
Instagram. If not for the thirty minutes

spent watching the sunset, I would have toggled between
Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And because, by the ingenious algorithm that
encodes these applications, things you had missed would always appear at the
top of your feed. Thus, I would switch back to Instagram again, and this
vicious cycle repeats itself.


In the internet age, our concept of
time is askew and significantly shortened; experts believe that technology has
indeed sped up our perception of time. We have also become culprits of instant
gratification. With the advent of technology, living in the twenty-first
century means we expect everything right away. Besides, with any desire,
craving or want, the piece of glass that our lives rely on simply gives it to
us with just a touch of the fingers. If we want to watch an episode of “The
Tonight Show”, Jimmy Fallon pops up on our piece of glass straight away. If we
want to watch the highlights of the latest Golden State Warriors game, Stephen
Curry appears on our piece of glass right away.


This ravenous appetite for instant
results has seeped into all corners of our lives — we expect same-day delivery on
Amazon, downloads to complete within seconds and instant replies from friends,
teachers and even employers. Instant gratification has, sadly, turned us into
impatient creatures — a few
extra seconds of waiting causes us extreme disdain and annoyance. Being an avid
user of technology, I have also surrendered to its effects on our lives,
turning into someone short-tempered and quickly provoked. When I stand in line,
I am unwilling to wait for anything that takes longer than a few minutes. When
I explain to my mother how to update her profile picture on Facebook, I get
restless, vexed by the fact that she was taking so long to comprehend a
seemingly simple task. When I read an article online, my limited patience only

allows me to get
through the first two paragraphs, before I skim through what is left to gain a
brief idea of the article.


the few seconds that felt like a few whole minutes when Instagram failed to
load, I am thankful that I lifted my eyes off the 2.79″ x 5.65″ screen that my
eyes wander about for the most part of the day. A screen that has not only
narrowed my vision but also, my patience and tolerance.


Ironically, despite their
unassailable beauty, sunsets are the epitome of the direct opposite of what we crave
for in life: accessibility and speed. Rare (only occurring at one specific time
of the day as compared to whenever we desire) and long-lasting (requiring a
certain amount of time to complete as opposed to being swift and immediate)
they may be, sunsets do have a degree of allure in them. Watching the sunset
that evening made me realize that I have been subtly losing control of my life,
and steering it in the wrong direction. I have let the advancement of
technology dictate my life, evident in my craving for instant gratification and
my lack of patience. Sunsets have, in their own unique manner, taught me to
take things as they come, and to have the composure to wait for things that are
not necessarily instant.


Now, although the 4p.m. class on
matrices, vectors and subspaces continues to stun and confound me with its
complexity, the walk back has never failed to marvel me. The colors of every
sunset are different, yet each one so charming and magnificent in its own
right. The golden glow of each building during this spectacular time of the
day, too, makes these walks even more magical. Eyes fixated on the canvas the
sky has transformed into, I will learn to savor every bit

of this fleeting beauty that has molded me into someone more
patient, understanding and composed. Ultimately, we shouldn’t let technology
control us — we’re the masters of our own lives. 


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