This I Believe

Todd - Port Angeles, Washington
Entered on April 13, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: love, parenthood

There are many memories which do not fade with time. I was nineteen years old, taking a year off from school, trying to find what I wanted to do with my life. And suddenly, that August afternoon after work, life came to me instead. I learned that I was soon to be a father.

The thoughts that went through my mind at this time ranged from shock and disbelief, to wonder, to fear, seemingly all in the space of a single second. Out of nowhere, I saw my life’s path shift in an instant. At that time, I thought that what I felt was the most intense rush of emotion that it was possible for a person to feel.

I was, however, wrong.

I will always remember the first day I saw my daughter, the first time the doctor put her in my arms, and she looked up at me with her newly-open eyes. It is not really possible to describe this to anyone who has not experienced it, except to say that there is no experience I have had or heard of that is so life-changing in a single moment, nor was it any less when her two younger sisters were born.

I have come to realize many things since that moment. Life went on. There were the normal difficulties of adjusting to life with children, as well as some extraordinary ones. We had to adapt to life with each other very quickly, and this was not without its share of mistakes, missteps, and problems. Nor is it still, as any such process is always an ongoing one.

Yet I realize, as I look back, that I have never seen the world in quite the same way since. In those few moments, I felt the power and reality of unrestrained love and hope. It is an experience etched into the memory, not diminishing in the slightest with time or experience. Life can be cruel, it can be arbitrary, it can be senseless. No one alive has not experienced the ache of knowing this. And yet, it is that powerful, unrestrained love, the capacity to embrace all of mankind as a family, which will never let you fall.

Since that time, I have seen for myself the true power of love. Not the restricted pretense which is all too common in our world, over which even the most petty of considerations seem to take precedence, but the true ability to embrace someone—anyone—as though they were your brother, your sister, your son, your daughter, and to receive the same in return. This is not something restricted only to family members. Indeed, some of the people I’ve met since that day may never have met me face to face, our only contact having been letters on the screen and a voice on the line. Yet, even given this, such bonds can develop. Love is not restricted by distance nor difficulties, not by time or space.

If you ask anyone whether it is such love which has been the driving force behind every great good in our world, I suspect that they will answer yes. Yes, it will save the world. It is the only thing that can. But in the end, it is the love a person gives, not that which they receive, that will keep them going through any trouble.

This, I believe.