This I Believe

Basmaa - Providence, Rhode Island
Entered on June 8, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I believe

The history of my belief is the history of my life. While I do not support the belief gene theory, I have always felt the need to pivot my life on something larger than myself and find it hard to imagine a life in which you follow no credo, no practice to anchor yourself.

As a child, I believed in the punishment that I would receive if I was bad. The arbitrator of the punishment lived behind the flaps of a khaki tent like structure and had all the personality of a cardboard cutout. The need to flesh “him” out arose when I lost my mother at 14 and was left in effect on my own. To this day I firmly believe that I would not have made it through those turbulent years on my own. The deity I crafted for myself was probably typical of a 14 year old virtual orphan. A super parent who loved me unconditionally, stayed up with me in trouble and watched over me but in addition was omnipotent and omnipresent. It reminds me of god of born again Christians but only because been there, done that. The super parent took me all the way through medical school into my first year of residency where surrounded by a new culture with all the views of my upbringing under fire, the super parent departed leaving a God shaped hole in my life. It was only when he was gone from my consciousness that I realized how a God who was always watching me and always looking out for me, had made it easy for me to take the high road without counting the cost.

These were the years when I believed in nothing. It was agonizing. A part of me realized that the super parent had departed because someone knew that I was now strong enough to take his defection and someone had faith in my commitment to truth. Not dependent on the crutch of a super parent for getting me through the day, I wanted to find the “truth”. Not realizing that truth is personal, ten years passed and in the midst of another period of intense suffering I realized that if the universe is the sum of its physical parts, I see no point in living because Bhudda is right: this world is a house of suffering. The fact that humans as a species continue to choose to live is actually the biggest proof that there is a numinosity underlying the universe. Nothing in this life is guaranteed and nothing we “own” is really ours. I had allowed myself to become attached to expectations of a happy life when no such thing exists. The realization that nothing in life comes with a warranty is terrifying but ultimately liberating. I learnt to celebrate the now as I never had before. God himself if he exists cannot change the past and the future may never arrive. Seize the now. Even more crucially the impermanence of every nuances of my life emboldened me to risk it for what I value and not grieve if in the process I loose what I have. The purpose of life is to try and contend with dignity whatever life chooses for you and continue to strive for what you believe to be the truth. The freedom to choose my truth and live according to it is the only choice I am freely able to make in this life. This is an act of great courage but it is worship at one altar that frees you of all other altars. I live responsibly not because there is Jannah or because there is a God constantly watching me but because this is only way to communicate to the universe that I believe in its mystery