This I Believe

Janie - Olathe, Kansas
Entered on October 24, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

To me, the trees are alive. They bathe us with fiery autumn leaves, scintillate with winter icicles, bud with spring greenery, and dance with summer freedom. I don’t mean the biological sense of the word “alive”. Rather, they are alive with spirit, as unscientific and irrational that belief is. I don’t mind whether my way is the right way, I believe in finding a faith that works for me.

I had always thought that finding the truth, the “correct” way to live, was most important. Pouring over philosophy books, I soaked up theories and beliefs in hopes that by finding the truth I would be happier. Although I learned a lot from my obsessive quest and opened my mind to different schools of thought, I found that the more I relied on other ideas the less I believed in my own.

It’s not that I believe that we should follow our faiths blindly, full of conviction and unaware of any other ideas and possibilities. Nor do I believe that we should turn a deaf ear to our inner voices in order to hear what others are saying. Instead, a balance is needed, one that allows us to learn from the world around us and also stay true to our hearts.

I find such a balance tricky to keep, but satisfying for all its efforts. In Junior High, I became enthralled in existentialism. Its ideas led me to believe that there was nothing to have faith in and no purpose to life. I lost my spirituality. Suddenly everything became too exact, too definite, too factual and tangible. My childhood imaginations of wood nymphs and spiritual guardians disappeared and with it, I felt like my heart had died.

Years later, I tried to recapture my spirituality through Buddhism. My mom, a Buddhist herself, told me to chant scriptures were I ever scared or discouraged. I liked the thought of a mantra to meditate the soul, but the idea of human-like deities was too supernatural for me. I didn’t think that there were gods on standby waiting to help us and so the idea of praying didn’t appeal to me either.

I was conflicted, caught between a state of wanting to find my spirituality and yet not wanting to depend on something too theological. Which belief was the right one? I realize now that it isn’t necessary to choose. I can make my own belief and my own faith. There was no need to write my personal holy book with the pens used by Christians or transcendentalists or Socrates. I could take a little of this, a little of that, and make something that worked for me. Something I could have faith in and not have a voice of doubt in my mind.

When I look outside I am reminded of this belief. To me, trees can have spirits and they remind me of the beauty of life. They are guardians that watch over my heart and I believe in them.