This I Believe

Ryan - Lenexa, Kansas
Entered on January 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

EIghteen years is all I’ve spent on this earth. I’ve woken to six thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven mornings, shrugging off sleep and slipping into another day spent in relative comfort. I can count on each morning and that day that proceeds passing by in a way that’s not too different from the ones that came before it. I’m an upper-middle class, white, suburban male. The eras of hardship and character-building pain & strife have come and gone, and it its place we’ve ushered in a new era, the digital revolution, the age of the reclining chair. Where is a young man with hopes of finding a life changing experience supposed to look? Where is my adventure-when do I acquire my moral backbone? Because without a spine I cannot be expected to stand.

When I was still in grade school my father used to take my brother and I on walks through the woods. In the winter we put on our scarves and sweaters and headed into the patch of forest behind our house. There was a creek that was frozen one afternoon and the three of us followed it for miles. I remember my brother running ahead of us and crashing through the ice. We found and abondoned silo and lit a campfire inside. I don’t know why my father took us on those walks, whether he was giving heed to the magnetic pull the outdoors has on a father and his sons, or merely the desire to explore. I remember those walks were when I had the first conscious realization that, “I am going to remember this for the rest of my life.” now the woods are gone, replaced by the suburban sprawl, and the only thing that remains of our creek is its PVC pipe ghost winding under streets in houses. Those walks were some of my first encounters with the beauty of the natural world, and the first time I think I really understood what it means to be a family. We moved away, and soon after the woods followed suit, but I remember them like I can still see the trees from my bedroom window, and in my mind we’re still there, my father and my brother and I, winding our way through the Kansan woods in the wintertime.

As I am now, eighteen-a childhood behind me, tip toeing my way up to the precipice of adulthood, I feel bad coming out so unscathed. If, in this new age, any feelings of love & hate and their various interpretations are only watered down imitations of their pure and noble predecessors, I have held on to each tarnished and cracked remnant like the tattered diamond ring of a long-lost grandmother. Through the years I have held the memories of these moments in my hands, turning them over, admiring their scars. my body grows older, but still the memories persist. I am subjected to the unspoken sorrows of families and friends, sorrows that arise from the very nature of compassion! But still the memories are there, no longer so tattered. The remnants of emotion that I covet so openly have become dazzling from years spent under speculation in the palm of my hand. The sands of tie have ground away at the edges of my impure little rocks, polishing and shining them until only the heart remains. And however small that heard is after everything else is washed away is irrelevant, because it is pure. So I’ll take my preceious little rembrances and stack them. Each new one forming a link in the chain, and like molecules bound together working as a human liver, my remembrance-remnants will stand, and with them I too will rise. And the memory persists, I believe.