This I Believe

Mark - Fredericksburg, TX, Texas
Entered on February 14, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe intensely in objective reality. I believe that all human beings are responsible to pay attention to the smell, color, texture and sound of their universe and to respond creatively. This is the root of our shared humanity. I also believe that our search for this truth, while shared, is, paradoxically, a search done in solitude. Perhaps because of the fear of this solitude, the journey is seldom taken.

In my forty six years of life I have often been stunned with a painful exhilaration, a sense of desperate longing, usually in response to beauty, either in the created order or in something made by human hands. This, I suspect, is not unusual to the human experience. I have also in the last few years of my life discovered that most people that I really get to know are depressed and in learning this have been able to place myself in the same category.

The seed of this depression is helplessness. The fruit is inactivity and ultimately a sad repose. I have often asked why people look for answers by going on retreats. Perhaps an advance is in order. This advance is the journey done in solitude. And it must be so for we are placed in to this reality much like the characters in a common mystery setting, a grand mansion with only a hint of the owner, and then witness, one by one, the fellow invitees strangely disappearing. Therefore we cannot trust anyone else with our secrets until we are somehow sure enough of the truth of them to open our mouths and speak. This is taking all the risk; that if we are wrong, our doom is sure.

This act of speaking our secret knowledge is the act of creativity, an act of imagination, an act of the eye, the ear, the nose and the hand. It is the act done with the greatest sense of solitude and fear, and yet when done, connects the speaker with the highest mind of our shared humanity. And there, there is joy.

It is, however, precisely this fear to look closely at the realities of our existence, and then the fear to act on what we learn, that handicaps us, and imprisons us in depressed existence, and this, an existence of defeated aloneness. We can then only accompany our tragedy with toys to distract. And this is the present hell we live in, and it is sold and then bought at a very high price.

Today we swim in the uncertain sea of subjective reality. What I want to believe I am allowed to believe. With this there can be no true curiosity, only distraction. This makes us great consumers, but not great thinkers. If my happiness depends on my comfort then I will believe what makes me happy and I will buy to my heart’s delight. But when I am faced with the daunting reality of objective truth and the daunting task of learning about and then speaking about it through artistic and scientific endeavor, I place my life in the hands of something infinitely larger than myself, and therefore, infinitely more interesting. And, furthermore, the journey beautifully weds our need for solitude with our need for community and also gives us the ability to make a most terrifyingly beautiful cup of coffee.