This I Believe

Matthew - Knoxville, Tennessee
Entered on September 25, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe in observation.

On my first visit to the Hawaiian Islands, I joined a group of adolescents on a hike in the mountains of O’ahu. Before a hundred feet could pass, the group began picking up speed—it was like a freight train pulling out of a station on a downhill slope—bounding up the trail’s steps and inclines without regard to gravity… Even under thirty, I couldn’t keep up.

I would eventually catch up with the group—the trail an inevitable guide for the bounding train of humanity which had left me behind—but in those moments alone I was to discover the core of my belief. In the stillness and quiet, I could hear the rustling of the leaves in the breeze, smell the dampness of the Earth—the honey-sick sweetness of fresh blooms dancing in the sun just off the trail, gossamer tendrils of cloud lazily playing through the sky like children. It was a thing of beauty lying in wait—passed without notice by every person in the group, and perhaps a million others before. It was a startling revelation knowing that at one time I would have led the group bounding down the trail with nothing but the end in sight.

I believe that part of the wisdom of our elder’s is imparted by the frailty of their bodies. I believe my grandmother sees more from her one living room window than I see in a week. I believe my grandfather finds more walking his block than I could find running all the streets of Rome. I believe in the magic of stillness and the wonderment of a newborn babe. I believe that in time I have forgotten how to see the world with wonder. I have memorized the world around and degraded it to mere fact of being. Tree. Park. Sky. Grass. Road. Bridge. Building. Somehow the stars have stopped twinkling and the rise of the harvest moon barely takes my notice. I have come to know the world and thus ignore it.

I believe that it is still possible to see shapes in the clouds, to hear the laughter of the wind dancing in the sun, and to find joy in mud and rain. I believe in knowingly taking in every moment—registering each sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. I believe in rediscovering life through simple observation.