This I Believe

Laura - bellingham, Washington
Entered on November 6, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that one of the hardest things a person can do is set down her beliefs. Assuming you can actually articulate the principles that guide your daily life – no small feat – announcing them is risky. What if they’re weird or trite or just plain shallow? Worse, what if what you believe is the opposite of what you do?

Let’s start right there. For example, I believe that we should never compare ourselves to others, and yet- I can’t help wondering how my beliefs might measure up. Are they as smart or profound or funny as someone else’s?

“Who cares?” says my smart self.

“Only me,” whispers her insecure shadow.

Chances are that if I read someone else’s essay on what they believe, I’d think, “Hey I believe that too, maybe I should have picked that one instead.”

So okay, maybe I’ve already done that. More or less.

See? This is why I believe in saying no when it comes to comparing ourselves to others, or any variation thereof. What’s the point? There’s little upside to this sort of judgment, unless subterranean self-esteem or righteous satisfaction is the goal.

I believe that comparing is best reserved for the other nouns: places, things and ideas.

Compare the chardonnay with the merlot, to see which tastes more delicious with your garlic prawns. Compare lilacs to limes and thank the creator for two of the most sublime scents on earth.

Compare notes to fill in your gaps, recipes to spice up your table, prices to get the best deal and exercise habits to get out of a rut.

Compare good causes and choose one that makes your world a better place.

Compare home and away, cultures and customs, compare the ways our world says hello, peace and mama. Compare music and fill your heart, compare literature and fill your mind, compare shells on the beach and fill your soul with wonder.

Compare ideas and let the pondering begin. Ask questions. Talk amongst yourselves. Compare deeds, compare seasons, compare reasons and meaning and yes, beliefs. But don’t compare yourself.

My dad once sagely pointed out that from where you stand, which in my case happened to be at the kitchen sink, there will always be people whose circumstances are better, and worse, than yours.

In other words, stick to your knitting. You are neither more, nor less than that slender celebrity, that wealthy school mate, that struggling single parent, troubled neighbor, tired nurse or tireless volunteer. You are simply and most complicatedly you, and I believe the best you can do is all that matters.