This I Believe

Joell - San Francisco, California
Entered on June 29, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

As an NPR junky, I’ve been listening to these wonderful This-I-Believes with great curiosity. Urged to think about what it is that I really believe in, for many months the question has left me perplexed. But I think I have finally figured out my dilemma—my problem is that I believe in the joys of NOT believing.

I believe in the beauty of an unsure life; a faithless existence filled with doubt and wonder and amazement and curiosity, all outside the domain of proven theories, confirmed facts, or hopeful prayers. I live in a state of pure speculation. Although fairly well educated—and despite the potential for hours of internet research at my fingertips—I reside happily unencumbered by the burden of science’s inarguable answers or religion’s hopeful confidence. I try to live my life as if it were just one big tricky question—free of the weighty shackles of unquestionable formulas and divine postulations. In this Era of Information, I am hopelessly and blissfully ignorant.

I don’t want to believe that I know why my dog knows when I’m coming home or why I crave chocolate, I just want to enjoy that wagging tail and partake in a great piece of cake from time to time. I don’t want to understand the movement of the planets and stars; I want to be continually surprised by the full moon, shocked by the setting sun, amazed by our rotation on this axis.

I don’t want to believe that I know why my neurons travel in a particular pattern, to understand why I’ve fallen so deeply into this long-lasting love affair, or why I am so lucky to live in this dopey state of well-being.

I don’t want to believe that I am still that child I was when I was a child—but I don’t want to believe I’ve shed a thousand skins, either. I do not believe I am who I was yesterday—when I awoke under soft sheets in the yellow room that I do not particularly believe I will wake up in ever again. I don’t believe I will live forever or that I will die tomorrow, that I will travel the world or stay evermore in this little house, the breeze through an open window and the sun on my back. I don’t even want to believe in magic or God or astrological destinies, reincarnation, infinity or gravity. I just want to continue my ponderings. I want to die still full of wonder.

I know that someday I may regret this not-believing—whether my life simply winds down or takes me right up to the edge. But today I don’t want any answers to my conjecture. I have a million questions, but these are not riddles I want solved. I love that others so firmly believe in their beliefs, but I’m riding my own circular koan. And to those who are tempted to provide answers to my questions, I say: Just let me marvel. Allow me this unanswered life.