This I Believe

Carmen - Charlottesville, Virginia
Entered on April 19, 2007

A Simple Fact

“I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery

depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.”

Martha Washington (1731-1802) American First Lady (1789-97)

I eagerly set out to write this last assignment for my English Composition class. It had been a fun semester, and unlike most of my classmates, I rubbed my hands with excitement at the opportunity to once again play with words, my most recent friends. Melancholy visited me, as it does every summer when the longer days gradually wane leaving behind the soothing sound of the ocean waves.

Following the teacher’s suggestion to write an essay based on the format of the NPR series “This I believe,” I enthusiastically read several of the entries that were available online. I discovered interesting life experiences that touched all sorts of emotions that ranged from anger to happiness, from belief to disbelief. I was stricken by the authors’ powerful conclusions and by their readiness to share themselves with absolute strangers.

After a quick glimpse at the life of others, I turned around looking for myself. I needed to search within, an exercise I tackled with the same exhilaration my children experience at the thought of a fun field trip. “What do I believe?” I asked myself as I was driving up and down town. “What is my truth?” I thought as I emptied the dishwasher. “Where is my little secret, and will it survive the test of time for generations to come?” I wondered as I kissed my husband goodnight. “Where are my words of wisdom?” I scribbled anxiously on a piece of paper as the morning coffee slowly brewed. I waited curiously for my inner voice to whisper the brilliant and original revelation that could bring the illusion of immortality, however momentarily. Instead, I could only hear myself breath. I was wordless. I was empty.

The terrifying glare of my bare page, and the dangerous tick of the due date resonating behind my ears as the weekend mysteriously disappeared, beleaguered me as I realized that there was no magic sense to call my own that was worth naming. Almost at the verge of succumbing to frustration and disappointment, it befitted me as a true fact that all I could tell the world was that my knowledge is limited, and that unfortunately, I do not posses the key to a merry and peaceful life or a tranquil death, nor do I own the infallible recipe that will cure our agonizing humanity from all the modern maladies that afflict it. I wish I did, however.

Everywhere we turn, we stumble upon horrifying stories that speak of deception, treachery, murder, greed, corruption, despair, massacre, famine, disease. Human race seems to have been overtaken by an irrational hunger for individuality despite the evidence that around the world, our different cultures and societies are crumbling under the siege of self infatuation.

Notwithstanding, I have come to accept my own limitations, after all there isn’t much I can do to alter our tragic condition. I strive to make myself content as I appreciate the simple events in my life. I delight at the sight of a beautiful sunset, and I experience great joy when I hug the people around me. I am thankful of the fact that music became a bridge to unite my family, and I allow our house to keep its doors permanently unlocked, day and night, ready to welcome unexpected visitors. I rejoice beneath the warm embrace of a sunny spring afternoon as my children soak up the fresh air that feeds our pink azaleas. I am fulfilled as I give myself to others, and I celebrate a passionate poem, a funny joke and long walks in the woods with my very good friends. I find consolation reading classic literature and I abandon myself as I quietly cry at the sound of a healing hymn.

I reckon that my life is simple, yet I find it rich and stimulating. I know I am valued, and I want to be able to love others entirely without reservation or judgment. I have a strong desire for most people to feel the same way, but I do not presume that my certainty, my little ways, are infallible enough to inspire fellow humans to replicate them. For now, I can only humbly affirm that I hear a soft voice inside me that faintly says: “This I believe: There is something great about today, and I am going to find it.”