“A belief is a thought that’s caught.” This was my high school sign language teacher explaining the sign for belief, which amounts to pointing at the forehead with your right index finger and then moving the hand, open and palm down, to rest on the thumb side of your closed left fist, as though trapping a fly. At the time that seemed a very astute definition despite its pragmatic origin, but it’s strange to think of it now, only five years later. I see now that I was so impressed because of the grace of the expression and not its truth; the truth is that a belief is a thought that has caught you and will not, whether you wish it to or not, let you be.
The idea that has a hold of me now, the belief that has lassoed me completely, is one that has been with me since early childhood. I believe strongly that everything has, as a significant component, beauty and music. The childlike sense of wonder at every situation and object, lost for so many in the daily hustle and bustle, is alive and well in me as I sit in traffic, the bathtub, a college classroom, or my back yard. Even now I sit in my office and watch out the window as a leaf gives up struggling against the breeze and surrenders its branch in favor of the wind. It is these things I wish I could give to others as gifts or explain with any fraction of my own overwhelming enthusiasm.
Perhaps most important is that from my belief comes something much less nebulous – purpose and action. I make time to nurture in myself a sense of amazement. I work to share with friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances the beauty of sun on your face or the wondrous color of water. Someday I hope to share with my children the joy that is available from all the small things that they see every day. I remember how it was instilled in me by creative, abstract parents and exciting, adventurous teachers that the world was amazing and should inspire a sense of awe worthy of it – it is this idea I hope to send out to catch others.
Looking towards the future, my aspirations of becoming an educator are secretly fueled by the sense that being a professor will allow me to snare students’ minds, even if it is with only one phrase. Verbose though I may be, if I could choose only one phrase, my words would be very straightforward: “Believe in the wonder of simple things,” I would say, “and let this belief hang on to you forever.”
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