This I Believe

Jason - Lawrence, Kansas
Entered on December 3, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: legacy, question
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in The Line.

Lines are what define you and I and our world. Everything is based on a line: the space you live in, the vehicle that carries you to other spaces, even the exchange of ideas among other people in those spaces. Sentences are lines of words strung together, and aren’t words simply letters constructed of lines to communicate the sounds that launch from the throat of a creature that is itself a point on a line of ancestry?

As a child, I was encouraged to look outward, towards the skies to connect points with imaginary lines to see things like the Big Dipper. On certain nights, I was told that I might see a line of eight animals improbably flying across that sky on an impossible mission. I sometimes imagined I could see their driver, and often told my brother to look harder because they were there.

When I stopped believing in that tiny figure and realized that the whole thing was just a story I became impatient to grow up and begin traveling the path that would lead me to adulthood. It seemed the summers were nearly endless, and that it was an eternity until the big break from school in the middle of the year. Cold winter days gave way to bright spring sunshine when I could cast a line into the nearby lake. Then it was summer again, I was a year older and I returned to school.

As an adult, I understand that all the points connected by my personal Line were far more spread out then than they are now. Through my twenties and into my thirties, I have always moved forward, my personal Line marking my passage. Those breaks for winter and summer seem so short in comparison, and there is stress to complicate matters, stress that can chew through all of the good points that have gotten me to where I am now. I’ve dabbled in music, art, writing and cooking and now I manage others who are drawing their own Lines on the same pages I am.

It’s not been an easy path at times to the knowledge that the doodles and scribbled phrases on meeting agendas were reasonably reconciled with my desire to be creative, to look out to the skies again and imagine the inevitable planets around those selfsame stars. To think about the lives of the people on those planets and how their paths might intersect with ours. After all, a line is the basis for everything.

The spaces we live and work in began as lines of thought that translated to blueprints that became steel girders or pine boards, all arranged in lines themselves. Looking backward at the end of the year, it’s easy to connect the points and see the constellation that is defined by my personal Line. Looking forward is like trying to find those tiny figures on certain nights, but I believe even if I can’t see.