This I Believe

Daniel - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on October 22, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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This I Believe

In the past several years, as I delve deeper into adulthood, I have made several personal discoveries. The reason I qualify this ‘discovery’ as personal is because I am fully aware that others, those with more life experience, may have made similiar discoveries long ago. Life takes us in unanticipated directions, and it pays no heed to what could’ve/should’ve been otherwise. In response I have taken to heart a valuable lesson learned as a high school swimmer: learn to feel the flow of the water, and propel yourself efficiently through the currents. I have taken this rule and applied it as a broad metaphor, a personal philosopy. I believe in learning to appreciate and savor the small imprefections in life, believing that there is much to learn from them.

My friend invited me to dinner at her house some time ago. As we sat to enjoy a homemade autumnal feast, she lamented the risotto was too salty. The risotto was thorougly edible, and I enjoyed the company and the evening. Make no mistake, the risotto was a crucial element of the meal, and it was expertly prepared. I see that my friend was suprised that something she had prepared so diligently could turn out to be too salty. On one hand it makes sense for the cook to retrace their steps in the preparation, and on the other hand it does not. The dish added texture to the meal, a little feast for the senses I will long associate with that evening. Much as a song rekindles memories, I will remember how the risotto was slightly salty. In that sense we learned the value of an imprefection.

Sometimes my cats try to scratch my furniture. I will not consider de-clawing as an option. By getting them a cat condo, trimming their claws and employing some positive behavior reinforcement, I have learned to control this feline urge. The other day I caught one of the girls scratching at the back of a wing chair. I had to wonder how she could disregard my holistic approach to behavior modification. To say nothing of the fact that ‘she’ is a cat, the chair that she was scratching is 22 years old, and in need of reapholestry. Recognizing a losing battle when I see one, I concluded this does not matter. If the chair were new, it may not matter much either. Does one save their furniture for a rainy day? Does it really matter if there are kitty initials scratched into the back of an peaked chair. On the contrary, I think this imprefection added a bit of character to an already well worn chair.

Swimming is challenging me again. This past year I returned to this fine sport after a seven year hiatus. I have been able to pick up where I left off for the most part, however flip turns plague me. Our coach tells me that I turn too close to the wall, rolling myself into a little ball, and expending too much energy to untangle myself. This is hurting my time, and I am already challeneged in that department. One option is to stop doing them altogether, but that does not seem right after all these years. A well done flip elegantly punctuates each lap, as though seemlessly moving from one stanza to the next. I must follow my own advice and listen to the water as I uncoil. In the meantime, I will take this imperfection to heart, to appreciate it for what it is. It is something for me to work on, something from which I can draw a better flip turn. In that sense I am appreciating this imprefection, and I see in it an opportunity. I see in it the makings of a better flip turn.

As much as I believe in anything, I believe in savoring the slight imprefections inherent in life. In my life I see that imprefections can be cherished as they add texture, meaning and memories. I see imprefections that I will never be able to change, and so from that I have learned to focus my energy where it matters. I also see opportunity for continuous improvement in imprefections. I know that there is a choas tendency inherent in life, and I also know that outlook is an important predicate to destiny. For all these reasons I believe in learning to appreciate and savor the slight imprefections inherent in life.