Daniel’s College Essay


Daniel Dworman, Contributor

The desert appeared a seemingly never-ending landscape of emptiness and beauty. At the horizon, where the sky met sand, the sun took its time sinking into the landscape, painting a canvas of gentle pink, soft yellow, and stark orange, before disappearing, leaving me in total darkness. A galaxy of stars pierced the blackness. On this second night in the Negev Desert of Israel, I stood in awe. How ironic that the void we had all felt after being apart through the summer of the pandemic disappeared in this vast landscape of desolation and solitude. And, it disappeared through the power of music.

By nature, I love music and making music. It energizes, inspires, and captivates me. A day never goes by without my listening to music whether driving, doing schoolwork, or hanging out with friends. A day never goes by without my playing guitar or bass. And don’t let me get started on my diverse and extensive record collection. Like water, food, and shelter, music is a necessity for me. Call it love, call it addiction, music is deeply embedded in my everyday life. 

I came to the desert with a reunion of camp friends who had all eagerly signed up for this four-week trip. Here I found myself, camped out with meager supplies, enjoying a modest meal while catching up on the time we had spent apart. Nothing makes me happier than sharing my passion for music with others, so what better time and place to pull out my guitar.  We had not been together for two years, but as soon as I started playing and we began singing together, it felt as if no time had passed. It was especially astounding that this coming together through music happened in the desert, where one would expect to be isolated. 

As our voices filled the evening chill with familiar songs, the emptiness we had felt gradually lifted. Soon, kids from another camp group, drawn by the familiar tunes, wandered over to our gathering. Their counselor, with guitar in hand, accompanied them and joined me in the middle of the circle. While he spoke limited English and I spoke limited Hebrew, we nonetheless communicated with each other through the universal language of music. As I played the Indie Rock ballad “The General” by Dispatch, he, not even knowing the song, played along without hesitation. He matched my lyrics with his humming. The two of us ignited the enthusiasm of the one hundred and twenty kids around us, whose voices filled the desert night. This to me was perfection, the embodiment of my passion. With the sands of the Negev stretching before us, I was able to bring joy and celebration to our group.