This I Believe

Juliana - Parkton, Maryland
Entered on November 2, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family
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I believe in making the best out of every situation. I went to my great-grandmother’s 100th birthday party this past Labor Day. I expected to be bored, but as it turned out, I stayed for almost five hours. I couldn’t think of anywhere I would have rather been. I was having fun!

When I entered the house, I felt such joy and warmth. I walked down the steps into the basement and saw my great- grandmother looking the best I had ever seen her. She sat, all decked out in pearls and flowers, her birthday tiara crowning her accomplishment, in her honorary chair. During the party, we all gathered around her and made special presentations. She received gifts. She received letters from senators, governors, and even the President and Pope. She received a goody bag from the American Breast Cancer Society. She was a survivor.

As the party came to a close, I sat to talk with her about how much fun we all had. She agreed enthusiastically and then began a recitation of her life. This recitation would be the moment that would inspire me.

Granny reminisced about her youth. The Charleston was her favorite dance, and she went every Saturday to a dance hall with a friend of hers. She worked at the Hecht Company for over thirty years and was awarded “Employee of the Month” multiple times. She talked about her children and how she thought they were doing okay. Then, she paused. After a thoughtful moment she said, “The world don’t owe me nothin’.” I took time to understand the meaning behind her words. Maybe she meant that she didn’t like her life. Or, maybe she felt she couldn’t have asked for anything more. I couldn’t decide. My eyes fell onto the awards and then it hit me. My great- grandmother didn’t hate life. In fact she loved it so much that she felt as though no one owed her anything, that she had already gotten exactly what she wanted. I want to feel like Granny feels about life.

Later that evening I remembered the other stories about Granny’s life: the abandonment, the two mouths to feed, the cancer. Granny looked at making the best out of life. My experiences in playing competitive tennis have taught me that when I don’t make the best of what I have, it is absolutely impossible for me to win. I have been through tough losses because I gave up trying to do my best. In everyday life, I have discovered that living each moment to the best of my ability leads to satisfaction.

Being in the moment enabled me to savor my time with Granny. I wasn’t even close to being bored. I was doing my best in the situation and letting the chips fall where they may. That way I can always know that the world doesn’t owe me anything.