This I Believe

Karen - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 19, 2006

Harmony. It is simply a situation in which there is agreement. My life and passions revolve around harmony in every sense of the word–in sailing, music, and family.

I am a sailor. My grandfather taught me to sail when I was eleven, sparking a passion that has all but consumed me. To truly experience sailing is to experience a unique combination of natural and man-made powers. A sailboat utilizes the wind, slipping along the surface of the water without requiring scenery-destroying roads or emitting harmful substances into the air. And yet sailboats have effectively transported people and goods for centuries. I remember moments on sailboats–standing on the bow of a tall ship during dawn watch as the sun crept quietly above the horizon, marveling at dolphins leaping in the wake of our pulling boat, dashing for shore in a brisk breeze on a catamaran–when I have felt completely in harmony with the wind, the water, the boat, and myself. I’ve never been able to duplicate this feeling in another situation.

I am a musician. I have the opportunity to create harmony with other people every day, on an instrument and with my voice. I individually create a tone. Together as an ensemble we create a chord. Truly creating music requires many sorts of harmonies: harmonies with other instruments, with other musicians, with the director, with the audience, and with oneself. I remember singing “Old Rugged Cross” with my church choir one Sunday morning. We sang it better than we’d ever done in practice. When we finished, when there would normally be applause, there was silence. Complete, utter silence. Nobody coughed. Nobody spoke. No baby cried. Nobody was willing to let go of the thrall of the music. We all sat down grinning.

I am a family member. The true dominating force in my life is not my passion for sailing or for music. It’s my family. My parents, sister, and I all lead incredibly busy lives, but we make a conscious effort to spend time together. My friends sometimes tease me about leaving activities early to go home for dinner. But I have learned too much through dinnertime conversation–from my dad’s lectures on science (during which he often begins scribbling on napkins or using the cups to represent planets), to my mom’s advice on how to deal with a mean teacher–to be willing to give up that time. When we don’t get along, my whole life is affected. I can’t concentrate on anything until our disputes are settled. I value harmony within my family more than anything I value in life.

Harmony is important in sailing, an activity I get to participate in on an intermittent basis. Harmony is vital to music, a central part of my daily routine. But harmony is absolutely imperative to my role as a family member, a fact that pervades every moment of my life. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the harmonies created outside my household. Harmony dominates my life.