Having listened to innumerable “this I believe” essays on NPR, I started to grapple with the question of why the series was not “this I know.” After all, knowing something seems much more concrete and tangible than a belief which may shift in the wind like the changing patterns of a sand dune. I have had several periods in my life where I believed something very strongly, ultimately discovering that for whatever reason my belief was misplaced. The displaced beliefs then led to a vacuum of sorts that was filled by the next belief. I became obsessed with knowledge, being inherently suspicious of beliefs as lesser things, destined to be changed by time, experience or doubt. As I began reading and studying all of the things I felt could be concretely relied upon such as physics, mathematics, and biology, I discovered that they all lead to the same terminus: at some inevitable point, all science breaks down into a chaotic spiral of the unknown. And, what are we ultimately left with? Belief. We trust our senses to give us approximations in a way that we can understand, and belief fills in all the details. Belief becomes much more real than anything else we can experience because it is the only thing that does not rely on a system to be. Once I came to this realization, yes belief, I started to feel at peace with the things that circle so madly around me. From the chaotic work day to the whirling planets, I believe they all surround me. I don’t need to know why they are there, or how. I just believe. Letting go of the illusion of knowing has allowed me to appreciate how beautiful and mysterious this life is, and how impossible it is to truly know anything.
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