I know that many of the beliefs I hold so closely today will fall by the wayside in the coming years, as I get older. Those values that I continue to hold will most likely alter themselves somehow a decade from now. I try to avoid verbalizing too many beliefs. Some beliefs, when spoken aloud in the presence of others, only make me look foolish later. Like how I used to believe that it was acceptable to drive drunk or shoplift items priced under fifty bucks. Some things just change as I learn and grow. So at the risk of looking like an idiot if my youthful ideals are overrun by the cynicism that comes from experiencing reality, I’ll tell you what I believe.
I believe that I can change the world. I will feed a child, listen to a dying man’s regrets, and comfort those in pain. I will have an open mind. I will vote. I will embrace diversity. I will recycle and not litter. I will give freely to charities. I will be polite. I will volunteer. I will turn the other cheek. I will love the unlovable. My consistent failure will not allow for pride, so I will laugh pleasantly when detractors mock my efforts. I will persevere knowing that one person, joined with others for a common goal, will have a mighty impact. I believe in my idealism, if only for the way it makes me feel. This belief fills me with hope.
On days that I don’t believe, the future looks bleak, and depression starts to creep in. I become overwhelmed by the enormity of issues such as AIDS and homelessness. When I don’t believe, I feel complacent and bored. I can spend all day watching talk shows on television. This is why I have to believe.
When I don’t believe, my senses are dulled. My husband’s embrace feels weak and unsure. My food tastes bland, and wine just makes me belligerently drunk. I only smell vomit and piss when I don’t believe. This is why I have to believe.
When I don’t believe, my ears filter out the sounds of laughter. When I don’t believe, I only hear shouting and curses. I hear horns honking and tires screeching and then the crash. When I don’t believe, I stop listening to music. This is why I have to believe.
When I don’t believe, I see sadness and hardship everywhere I look. My mind replays scenes of documentaries showing decaying bodies piled on the street. When I don’t believe, I can’t read a good book. This is why I have to believe.
I truly hope that my beliefs do not leave me looking like a fool later in life. But I don’t think this one will, because my belief is also a decision. I will change the world.
Becca Taylor now lives with her husband and family in a yellow house in Richmond, Virginia. She is a psychiatric nurse and tries to work as little as possible, so as to stay relatively sane.
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