This I Believe

Peggy - Galena, Illinois
Entered on September 1, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: creativity
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I Believe in Writing

Inspired by the NPR radio series, I struggled to write my own essay about what I believe. I started with “I believe in dogs”, but became frustrated after just one paragraph. Then I tried to write about the “power of love,” “the goodness of people,” “the importance of truth”. But each time after a few sentences I found myself subscribing to trite platitudes that didn’t have a ring of honesty. And that was when I realized what I believe. I believe in writing.

In attempting to write my beliefs, I kept hitting a dead end until I hit on my fundamental creed: writing. When I listened to the audio CD of “This I Believe”, I found myself very disappointed with one of the essays. Not surprisingly the author was well known and widely respected. I couldn’t help but think that if no one had ever heard of her that her ideas would never have been included in the series. And then, amazingly, the narrator said that that essay was spoken “off the cuff” with no notes or written text. By speaking rather than writing her thoughts, the reader didn’t have the time to reflect, revise, and select the precise word to support her message. I wish that she would have written her essay first, given it time and gotten much closer to what she truly wanted to say.

One of the greatest oratories of all time, Abraham Lincoln’s “Four score and seven years ago…………..” was penned by Lincoln as he traveled to Gettysburg. His script contained scribbled revisions. He had given thought to what he wanted to say and his eloquent words still speak to us today.

Books, which are nothing more than collections of writing, have changed the world. The Bible is the fundamental doctrine of the Jewish and Christian faiths, Uncle Tom’s Cabin is credited with igniting the Civil War, and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring initiated the environmental movement. And these three books are only a tiny representation of the astonishing influence that writing has had on the human race.

The entire internet revolution with its instant access to literature from the classics to blogs has forever altered our existence with the power of communication. Editorials, essays, plays, letters, journals, notes. Writing can refresh, inspire, ignite, and inflame us. It keeps our minds actively engaged.

Finally, and most fundamentally, writing is cathartic. Together for over thirty years, I could not envision a life without my husband. When cancer claimed him, I felt as though half of my very soul was gone. It was only writing that helped me to survive that excruciating pain. Writing and weeping were intimately entwined and after these sessions, I felt relief and was able to find peace for a time.

I have written in the throes of adolescent angst, overcome with gratitude, trembling with indignation, stricken with grief. Sometimes I have sent those missives to a newspaper or to a nemesis or to a friend, but always I have bathed in the satisfaction, the serenity and the release of writing what I believe.