Whenever I have had the fortunate opportunity to listen to the essays in the “This I Believe” series, I asked my self the same question, “What do I believe?” There were so many “right” answers to that question that I began to worry about my apparent lack of focus. So I decided to write them down. List them. Put them on paper. Make a commitment to what I thought I believed. What I discovered is that all my beliefs boil down to one thing – I believe in experiences.
I am referring to all the experiences that have encompassed my life. From my birth to a few minutes ago, they have shaped who I am, given me wonderful memories to take comfort in, and allowed me to learn and grow as a human being. They have given me friendships that will last a lifetime. They have furnished me with family to love. They have contributed to my desire for and trust in knowledge. They have allowed me to see the diversity of the world and embrace it.
Experiences have shown me compassion, love, happiness, and peace. They have shown me anger, hatred, resentment and war.
These experiences are not exclusively mine. Every person I have ever read about, listened to, met, and spent time with, share them with me. Many are not aware that we have a shared experience. These are the authors, musicians, actors, characters and everyday people that have crossed my path in books, music, magazines, newspapers, and stories from my family, friends, and neighbors. I have learned, laughed, cried, sympathized, feared, rejoiced, booed and sighed with every single one of them. I have enjoyed our shared experiences and thank them wherever they are.
I often think of those friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances that have past from my life. There are the kids from my old neighborhood, schoolmates I laughed and fought with, boyfriends that loved me and some who hurt me, friends I lost touch with and those who have passed from the earth. I hope they cherish our shared experiences as much as I do.
The people in my life at the present continue to give me amazing experiences that we laugh, cry and often, argue about. My best friend who lives across the country put it best, “I can’t wait until we see each other again – we will have another experience to talk about!”
Everyone has experiences. Some people ignore their experiences and that makes me sad. It seems a waste of good information. Some are able to use their experiences as positive influences in their lives. Some pass on their experiences and hope others, too, will gain knowledge, hope, joy or even a small understanding from them.
Past, present and even the promise of future experiences in my life are who I am and I am so glad they are there.
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