I am nearing the end of my freshman year in college, and it seems to me that the transition into adulthood has become a tiresomely long and drawn-out process that pulls me in an insurmountable number of different directions. However, my mother would probably insist that such feelings have been kin to me for most, if not all, of my life.
Unknown to more recent friends, I used to be shy. Terrifyingly shy. I was the small, blonde-headed girl with stick-straight hair and glasses that covered half my face; although, one could seldom notice such descript characteristics from a child that merely peered at the world from behind the security of her parents’ pant legs. Maybe my protected observation deck of early childhood helped build my humble understanding of people, or maybe my love of the stage that trumped my shyness molded my mind’s perception of life. Either way, I have never allowed anyone to suggest that life is anything less than mind-numbingly complicated.
My mind has always been a mystery to me, so feeling concrete beliefs amidst my free-floating conjectures can sometimes be difficult. For instance, I was never one to just accept an answer; I always had to know the path. What I learned was that most paths were not what they appeared. Numerous routes, many hidden from the naked eye, always added up to the observable path. Now that I am older, I use the same outlook with the people around me. When I look into a person’s eyes I try to look beyond what he is offering and see what he is hiding, from others and from himself.
My firmest belief is that life is complex. Life is a beautifully multifaceted mixture of atoms, molecules, and many other things I must sadly admit to my scientific family I do not understand. But I do understand the human side of things. I know that a simple smile can be caused by varying emotions. A tear flows just as easily from the eye of a happy groom as it does from a mourning widower, and silence can be brought on by happy reflection or overwhelming defeat. Such simple actions hint at the complexities in the nature of every person and every aspect of the world.
I believe in the peaceful, simplistic complication of life. While horror and despair can easily engulf our lives, I believe that we must hold on to the small beauties of our complicated world. Without that stubborn grasp on the beauty of existence, we may forget that life is not just here to be endured but to be lived.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.