This I Believe

Rod - Syracuse, New York
Entered on November 28, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I can tell you exactly, with certaintude, what I believe in with one word. I believe in nothing. I know what you may be thinking. Something about Eastern philosophy or religion (whatever you call it, huh?)? Something about nihilism and Nietzche? Or perhaps something atheistic or humanist? No. None of these. This is not some Zen trick you learned while I truly believe in nothing.

This belief, central to everything I do, does not come from nothing. It comes from an intense search conducted by me, roughly and spasmodically, from the age of 15 to about the age of 35. Oh, by the way, if it matters to you, I am a white male, college educated, and married with two kids. I drive a Saab and I like it very much. But I don’t believe in any of it. My search for truth, for wisdom, for knowledge, led me from Catholicism to Buddhism to Native American religions to Merton to Thoreau to Sartre to Nietzche to Quantum Mechanics to Kurt Cobain to golf to kindness to alcohol to caffeine to Lyotard to Hemingway to mountains to Star Trek to childhood to Woody Allen to Hegel to Twain and back again. None of it worked.

None of it. Oh sure, they’d work initially, just like when you come down with a sore throat and spray that green stuff (can I say Chlorominic or is that a brand name?) on your epiglottis. It worked and gave relief, but, within a few weeks, the pain was back.

There’s a hole in my life. And I scamper around trying to fill it with anything that will do the trick. In 1997, I worked for an insurance company. I got an hour and a half for lunch. So, I tried praying in silence at the Cathedral on my lunch breaks. It worked and I thought I finally had it. But it stopped working. The hole came back.

So, I started playing basketball at the YMCA with a bunch of other white guys who were on their lunch breaks (can I say white guys?). Filled it for a month. Hole came back.

So, I went to the library and studied physics. Worked then failed. I tried writing a novel on lunch. Guess.

And so, after hours and attempts in haphazard and staightforward ways, I have concluded that nothing will fill the hole. That nothing is the truth.

The funny thing is that once I admitted this – you know, that I believe in nothing at all – everything became interesting. Trips to Wal-Mart. Trucks with Sunoco stickers on the bumper sticker. Old street signs. New street signs. The way a ridge vent works in a house. Friends reruns. Everything is interesting when you believe in nothing. There’s no judgment. There is what is. And its working to fill that hole – at least it has for the past two weeks or so.