This I Believe

Matthew - Huntington, New York
Entered on August 27, 2008

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always wanted to visit California. I would read all kinds of travel books on all the great places to visit in the Golden State – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Yosemite Park, the Redwood Forests – but I never actually got there. It may have been my East-Coast parents who would rather not have spent the money to fly all the way there, or my lack of determination to save the money myself and make my own wish happen. Either way, I ate my words when everyone would ask me questions about all the notable people, places, and things you see when traveling in California; when they found out I never went, they just replied, “oh. So…you really know all of that for no reason.” I was, essentially, all talk on what to see and do in that state. When I think of a time someone said that when I was young, it reminds me of what my high-school English teacher, Bro. Stephen Balletta, used to say all the time in class: “To he who talks and talks, this adage should appeal; the steam that blows the whistle never turns the wheel.” Then and especially through the years that followed junior English class, I knew he was right. Generally, he was referring to talking in class, which would lead students to missing important information, causing a disruption, and impeding the process of learning. He used other examples of how this motto applies to not just that situation, and those are perhaps the greatest I have learned from.

The first is saying you’re going to do something and never actually doing it. For a good two years, I said all the time – every day, particularly every Sunday – that I was going to start going to Church more regularly again. Yet every weekend came and went without making the trip to the Cathedral in downtown Syracuse. I would tell the priest there, who was a college friend of my mothers, to expect me on certain Sundays, and I never went. Then, he stopped looking for me. When I finally went, it seemed not to matter to him that I was there. In addition, the sometimes Catholic criticism I give my friends eventually became nullified, seeming almost hypocritical since I didn’t go to church.

That’s the other side of the double-edged sword of not doing something you say you will, namely, being considered a hypocrite. Why say something, or take one side of a story, if you don’t thoroughly understand the other side, or you practice the ways of the other side yourself?

Bro. Stephen’s proverb doesn’t always carry a negative connotation, however. There was a mold to break. Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to be a news reporter with a passion inexplicable through words. I watched a particular television station in Philadelphia, KYW-TV channel 3, determined to end up at that station in some capacity, somehow. I would talk about the news, the station, learn and critique writing, practice video editing, and read newspapers constantly. Many people knew that this dream was the real thing, and I would make it reality. Others who didn’t know me as well, however, thought that the idea of me being on television was so outlandish that they just ignored me or gave no support to the idea at all. But I met people at the station at a young age, kept in touch with them, and even became so friendly with one anchor there that she considers me the son she never had. I had visited the station several times, and eventually landed an internship there this past summer. I came out of the experience with so much more, and can actually now prove to some of those skeptics that this dream will become a reality. Now lined up with another internship this fall, gained doubtlessly with the knowledge and contacts earned by the other, a job after school seems likely. I was talking, but turning the wheel all the while.

Nonetheless, many people don’t. They fall in to the trap of talking when they shouldn’t, saying the wrong thing, or building themselves up to something they aren’t through their words. But to he who reads this essay, this adage should appeal; be silent when you should, and think before you squeal.