Most Viewed Essays

There is No God

Penn Jillette - Las Vegas, Nevada
As heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, November 21, 2005

As half of the magic act Penn and Teller, Penn Jillette enjoys challenging his audiences with the unconventional. In stating his personal credo, Jillette finds liberation in believing there is no God.

Be Cool To The Pizza Delivery Dude

Sarah Adams - Port Orchard, Washington
As heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, May 16, 2005

We know them. We depend on them. We call them out on cold, rainy nights. Now, NPR listener Sarah Adams tells us why her life philosophy is built around being cool to the pizza delivery dude.

Seeing with the Heart

Stephanie Disney - Ashland, Kentucky
As heard on NPR’s Tell Me More, September 11, 2008

When audiologist Stephanie Disney adopted a multi-racial daughter, she began to hear questions like, “What is she?” In explaining her relationship to her daughter, Disney came to understand that family is defined by love, not by birth or genetics.

My father told me I was fat

Cherie - Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Entered on April 7, 2006

My father told me I was fat. And lazy. And stupid. I combated my father’s words with words of my own, hiding in my room while my chubby eight-year old fingers scribbled out poems and stories. The words I’d written would lay about me on my bed – my shield and [...]

I Am Evolution

Holly Dunsworth - State College, Pennsylvania
As heard on NPR’s Weekend Edition, May 11, 2008

Listener Holly Dunsworth says she doesn’t need faith or hope to believe evolution. The Penn State paleoanthropologist says evolution “just is.” It helps Dunsworth understand how she came to be and how humans are connected to all living things.

The Choice To Be Stronger

Ursula - Newport, Oregon
Entered on February 21, 2006

The first time I got drunk, I was in the eighth grade. On a Thursday evening, a gallon of Carlo Rossi Chianti sat in its usual place on our kitchen table. While my family lounged in the living room mesmerized by the television set, I pilfered sips from this seemingly endless supply. I still have [...]

I didn't wash my car last month

Jeff - Columbia, Maryland
Entered on April 28, 2006

I have something shocking to tell you. Are you sitting down? Brace yourself. Are you ready? Here goes. I didn’t wash my car last month. Isn’t that awful? What’s worse is this: I don’t intend to wash it this month either. Isn’t that terrible? Washing my car is one of the things I don’t do [...]

Respect Yourself

David - Lakewood, California
Entered on May 5, 2005

When I was young, my understanding of events and people was simple: Things were good or bad. This made it easier for me to deal with the world around me. Then, when I became a young man, things seemed far more complicated, and instead of black and white I saw the grays everywhere [...]

I Shall Overcome My Fears

Chad - Santa Fe, New Mexico
Entered on January 31, 2006

I believe that people are scared. I say this because of actions that I’ve witnessed in both other people and in myself. I recently had the good fortune of displaying my character to the federal government for the purpose of a security clearance. After all of the background interviews, investigations and subsequent administrative hearing, it was [...]

Love Is Trust and Faith

Shirley - Vienna, Virginia
Entered on June 12, 2005

I remember how Natasha hated looking in mirrors. How mercilessly she would pinch and tug at her skin, committing aggressive acts of punishment for each imperfection she found. Bruises stained her arms and legs, marring her translucent skin. Natasha was always cold, and she delighted in it. Even on the humid summer days, she would [...]

The Best Kind of Grief is Gratitude

Amy - Middletown, Maryland
Entered on April 27, 2005

The first thing breast cancer took from Isabelle was her smile. She woke up one morning and the left side of her mouth drooped and sagged. Her left eye was half-closed. A scan confirmed the cancer had speckled her brain in its second and final coming. It was the disease’s arrogant display of triumph. [...]

A Walk Into the Woods Together

Cindy - College Park, Maryland
Entered on February 2, 2006

When Greta and I celebrate our 20th anniversary this year, I believe we’ll do so as a married couple. Not in the legal sense — that is probably a generation away — but in the best, most important sense of the word “marriage.” When we met, she was an unacknowledged alcoholic and I was recovering [...]

The Perfume of Love

Seeta - Providence, Rhode Island
Entered on February 6, 2006

I believe in the power of perfume. Perfume is meant to cover our natural scent, to hide whispers of sweat and the living body in subtle floral overtones. At 14, my desire to be sexy conflicted with my poor understanding of the powerful amber liquid in my mother’s bottle, and I quickly came to prefer [...]

I learned everything I needed to know from my dog

Fred - Weaverville, North Carolina
Entered on September 11, 2006

I believe I learned everything I needed to know about how to live the good life from my childhood dog, Buster. If you want your young child to learn responsibility, get him a dog. That’s what conventional wisdom teaches. And that’s been true in my case. But Buster also taught me more about irresponsibility than any [...]

Our Brother's Keeper

Joe - Red Hook, New York
Entered on April 26, 2005

One spring morning, as I was leaving the parish hall where I had taken the kids to Sunday school, a young homeless man met me at the door. He was hungry, and shivering in the cold of the brisk morning air. He suffered from Tourettes Syndrome, and his speech was broken by fits, [...]

An Ideal of Service to Our Fellow Man

Albert Einstein - Princeton, New Jersey
Broadcast during the 1950s

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein finds beauty in life's mysteries, and says the fate of mankind depends on individuals choosing public service over private gain.

The Peace That Comes from Animals

Chris - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on April 27, 2005

The Peace That Comes from Animals It was September of 2003 and I was struggling to find work after experiencing corporate downsizing 23 months prior. I had really fallen on some of the grandest challenges of my life and I felt as if the proverbial cards were stacked against me. Nothing seemed to work out the [...]

The Power to Forget

James - Columbia, Missouri
Entered on May 3, 2005

The Power to Forget I believe in the power to forget. On December 12, 1969, my world changed forever. My father was murdered. I was 11 years old. In the middle of the night I woke to flashing lights from a police car. A knock at the door, and I heard my mom answer it. [...]

Our Noble, Essential Decency

Robert Heinlein - Colorado Springs, Colorado
Broadcast during the 1950s

In spite of his successful career as a science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein beliefs are more down to earth. He believes in the decency of his neighbors, and the future of the human race.

On Insignificance

Peggy - Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Entered on February 20, 2006

I believe in insignificance. Grand gestures full of resonance and import have their place in our world, but I speak of the small, insignificant acts which make us all so human. Years ago, I picked up the telephone every day at 3 p.m. from Europe to call my sister in California. She commuted [...]

To Revel In Our Humanness And Joy

Amy - Des Plaines, Illinois
Entered on February 16, 2006

I believe that play can heal. As a Registered Play Therapist, I see how play can create relationships and help kids become more aware and more whole. James is one example. James was a young gang-banger wannabe with an angelic face and chip on his shoulder the size of a sequoia. He was [...]

I believe in laughter

Kelly - State College, Pennsylvania
Entered on April 21, 2006

I believe in laughter, especially when you can laugh at yourself. And, I’m not talking about a little chuckle or giggle. I am talking about the laughter that makes tears stream down your face, makes your abs feel like you just did 1000 sit-ups, and makes your smiling cheeks burn. My entire [...]

The Greatest Generation

Angela - Sugar City, Idaho
Entered on February 21, 2006

I believe in the dwindling generation that some people call our greatest and others simply call “old people.” True, some of them may shuffle when they walk or need their driver’s licenses revoked, but some of my most treasured friends have been recruited from amongst their stoop-shouldered ranks. I didn’t grow up fearing the elderly. [...]

Creating Our Own Happiness

Wayne Coyne - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
As heard on NPR’s Morning Edition, February 26, 2007

Wayne Coyne is singer and guitarist for The Flaming Lips, an indie-rock band he founded. Coyne believes happiness isn’t a cosmic coincidence, but something we have the power to make within ourselves.

If You Believe In Me

Beverly - Atlanta, Georgia
Entered on February 23, 2006

I believe in mothering mostly because of my own mother. How can you not believe in a woman who made up her own birthday? Apparently my mother’s mother was far too busy trying to keep up with my granddaddy, Buster, to remember what day and year her baby girl had been born. [...]