This I Believe

Madelaine - Lafayette, Louisiana
Entered on January 22, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that putting my cheek against the cold side of the pillow during the night has simultaneously taught me two life principles: living in the moment brings instant satisfaction and conjugation is necessary.

Contact with the cold fabric feels good and helps me remember that it is usually more important “to be” rather than “to do” and that where “I am” takes precedence over where “I was” or “will be.”

I believe in newspaper clippings – this belief came to me recently when I grabbed for the scissors to cut out yet another blurb from the morning paper for my husband. After nearly three years of marriage, I wonder what he thinks of a wife that leaves him little snippets of trivia, comic strips and recipes. It occurred to me that the habit is deeply ingrained in my DNA – my father, deceased now for almost thirty years, left behind many such snippets in his nightstand and Army trunk. As inheritances go, this one’s not bad. It tells the folks you love that you know them and think about them often.

I believe that feeding our appetites only for entertainment, food and sex sometimes causes us to miss the most delicious and refreshing course on our daily menus – self-satisfaction fill us too much, causing us to resist the temptation of the after-dinner cigar of contemplation, the last drop of the sherry of solitude and the sweet confection of compassion. Life without dessert is existence, not living.

When I was young, I remember staring at a photograph in a book that showed a room with a painting on the wall – in that painting there was a painting. I began to imagine that the smaller painting might also have a painting contained within it and so on. I thought how useful it was that I could be the child of parents who also had parents who also had parents. I treasure that memory and the belief that it instilled in me. Though at that young age I could not have named it, it taught me to consider the twin mysteries of continuity and connectivity.

I believe that the world needs its sensitive souls as much as it does its charismatic leaders, though we often shun the company of the more perceptive among us to walk instead in the company of the powerful. I believe I should expend more energy into becoming a member of the first group

I believe in garbage collection and sewage disposal. They remind me that the unpleasant and distasteful are realities that need to be disposed of properly. They remind me that someone has a job most of us would disdain. They remind me of Sister Mary George who cautioned us if we did not learn our ABC’s and multiplication facts that one day we might become – shudder — garbage collectors! Where would even the good sister be without garbage collectors? When we were kids, my younger brother couldn’t resist piles of junk – he retrieved items that he thought no one in their right mind would toss away! Reminder to Steve: that plug-in blowfish lamp was trash – it was only a good idea in the mind of its inventor. Still, the smell did not cause me to stop believing in good ideas!