This I Believe

Jonathan - Capon Springs, West Virginia
Entered on September 15, 2008

“This I Believe”

Over 50 years ago my grandfather was interviewed by Edward R. Murrow and shared these thoughts: “I believe life is a natural turning toward happiness- as children naturally turn to play. I believe we are meant to live a full, rich life, in vigorous health, at peace with ourselves and our fellow man.”

Over my almost 50 years, I have adopted and experienced my grandfather’s belief personally, as I strived to live out that philosophy. I have also been affirmed by witnessing thousands of others encouraged by his words, seeking the same kind of life experience.

It seems most of us, including my grandfather, have been inspired by the beliefs of others, looking to their lives for a model and formula on how to live. Yet, no matter how much I try to imitate and emulate those I admire, the fullness of my experience will continue to be limited until I take ownership of what I believe. It can be tough to follow a legacy that casts a large shadow.

So, what I believe is that in order for me to live out the unique life experience that I am, I have to take what I have learned from others and make it my own. I wasn’t given an operator’s guide to how I best function. It is up to me to do the homework of thinking about what brings me balance in body, mind and spirit. Then comes the day- to-day experiment of testing myself in the real world and see what works and what doesn’t. That is how my belief about myself and about life can be developed.

Since hearing about the revival of the “This I Believe” series, I have given myself permission to begin again the challenge of discovering what motivates me and what gives me joy. I believe it is this process that will elevate me beyond daily survival.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to provide the audio recording of my grandfather’s 230-page book about his beliefs. We were converting it into a book on CD in honor of the 50th anniversary of its first printing. As I read those words into the microphone focusing on annunciation and pacing, I gradually noticed that it was getting harder to distinguish what were his thoughts and what were mine.

And then I became aware that they weren’t his words at all, but reflected a deeper truth that echoed off something deep within me. That is why so many people connected with his message. It wasn’t something unique to any one person- but instead, he took what he had learned both from others and his own life and made them his own. Now it was my turn to do the same.