This I Believe

Howard - Hot Springs, Arkansas
Entered on September 21, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65


I believe that we each are responsible for bringing meaning to our own existence.

There are events that inform our lives….that we drag with us in every thing we do. What makes a difference is what we do in response to the experience.

At the age of seven, On a July when my Dad took a group of youth to church camp for the week, I remember crying and begging him not to go, saying “something’s going to happen to Mother.” He gently assured me that everything would be alright.

Mother, trying to distract me from my grief sent me to the small grocery a couple of blocks away to buy sodas and candy for my baby sister and me. I rode my older sister’s bicycle so I could carry my cargo home in the wire basket.

Returning home, I coasted the bike to a stop and, kick-stand down, left it under a group of small trees instead of leaned against the picket fence that edged the back yard.

When mother noticed where I left the bicycle she asked me if I remembered where it went. As I started out the back door, sighing “okay”, she stopped me and said “No, you stay here; I will move it.”

As I watched her with my nose flattened against the wire screen door, the air suddenly filled with a blinding fiery light and enough electricity to push me forcefully away from the screen door onto the floor.

Moments later I regained my vision and called out for my mother. She didn’t answer, so I imagined she had escaped around to the front of the house. I burst out the door, and as I descended the back steps, I saw her body lying on the ground on the other side of the picket fence, bicycle leaning at its designated place.

I ran to her and tried to make her awaken. …..and I knew that she was dead……and I was right and it was all my fault.

All my fault; that guilt informed my being for the next multitude of years, and that everyone told me it wasn’t only reinforced the truth of it. “God had saved me for something special.”

I sank into deepening layers of depression and emotional exhaustion always searching for meaning in my life. I wanted to die and let my mother take my place.

I tried everything I could to either discover the truth or avoid it altogether. I lived an aimless, guilty and hollow existence.

In my late thirties I had the opportunity to return to my father’s home to help my beloved second Mom look after my dad when his health was failing. It was then that I discovered the secret meaning of life….for me.

I still drag around with the post traumatic stress disorder that came with my mother’s death. But now, I am not steeped in guilt and despair. Aha! Eureka! It was there all the time.

First of all, it’s not all about me. A person can be mired in self pity and sink deeper and deeper into self hatred….or get off his behind and serve some purpose outside the realms of his own ego; create meaning for his own existence.

And that brings me back to “This I believe”….that if you want to find out who you are, commit yourself to something outside yourself; create your very own purpose. It’s your responsibility.