This I Believe

Derrick - Belmont, New Hampshire
Entered on April 2, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: carpe diem

I believe in carpe diem. I believe that a person should live in the present. The past should be the realm of lessons, and the future that of dreams. It’s hard for me to put an exact time on when I came to this way of thinking, but I think that the seeds were planted when I was very young. I was never a neglected child, but neither was I the center of attention while growing up. For several reasons, my older brother required far more attention than I, and I grew to be alright with it. I wouldn’t call my childhood good—there are certainly many who had worse times than I; but it certainly wasn’t normal. It taught me to adapt, though; to flow with the events around me, which has become my defining trait to any who know me.

Some people live in the past with their regrets and memories; while others never take leave the future, trying to live in tomorrow before today has even ended. Even though I knew that I understood my beliefs, defining and explaining them was difficult for me. I never seemed to be able to find the right words to describe it. Like quite a few times in life, I found what I was looking for when I was looking for something completely different. Like every teen, I began to question the faith I had been raised in and I was searching for answers that it wasn’t able to give to my satisfaction.

What I found was a book. It wasn’t even a gigantic book, or a fancy one or a famous one—many people seem to have never heard of it. But this little book of ancient Chinese philosophy resonated with me, and as I read the very confusing pages of the Tao Te Ching, I saw that I was not the first to think this way. It gave me much to think about—the nature of leadership, man’s relationship with his fellow man and with nature and how to live. Especially how to live. I came to think of life as a river.

I believe heaven and hell are unimportant; what awaits at the end of the river, at the end of life, doesn’t matter. I am alive. The obstacles that await me at the end seem far less threatening than those that loom before me now. Events will flow as they will; and I can either fight the currents, only to be dragged downstream exhausted and hitting every rock on the way, or I can devote myself to flowing with the river and avoiding the trials in front of me.

What is to become of me? What does it matter, I’m here now. Life is a short and frenzied thing. All that is given to us is the present—to laugh, to love, to cry, to dream. I believe the purpose of life is to live.