This I Believe

Ben - Gainesville, Virginia
Entered on October 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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It wasn’t just dinner…

Profound expression escapes me as I ponder what exactly it is that I believe—a topic so broad and complex yet so simple and so me. Is it really within the deepest depth of my inner core or is it nearly exposed on the shallow surface that rests on the tip of my tongue? At either depth, it is my family who represents who I am and what I believe . . .

Upon reflection, it is the very days that I sought escape from so often that I now cherish and value as some of my fondest memories. How could family days of my youth that seemed so aggravating, disruptive or mundane to my otherwise preferred activities like athletics, brain-sapping Nintendo, or trading baseball cards have such a guiding effect on me as a person? It really is only beginning to make sense to me now as I have grown and begun my own extension of my family tree. Through family comes life . . . this I believe.

F rank, honest, yet sincere and safe

A lways supportive, yet not enabling

M eals, fun, relationships, memories

I ndividuality, character, values, love

L aughter, sadness, learned experiences

Y outh, responsibility, togetherness, life

Ironically, my family was really only brought together through separation and ugly divorce. My life really began when my father (then age 36, never having been married and without children) walked into the lives of three children and their mother. I was only 4. From the beginning, family became the definition of love, responsibility, togetherness, and respect. It was never a question of genetics or bloodlines . . . it was our life . . . together. The most simplistic example of togetherness was our family’s unspoken expectation that dinner would be a family gathering each evening. No matter what direction each of us went in pursuit of daily dreams, we would convene each evening for a simple family dinner, together, seated around a table for 6—no television, no phone calls, no distractions. It was during these meals that we would field such questions as “what was the one thing that you learned today?” or “what was great about your day today?” I remember rolling my eyes and resisting such conversations at the time. It is only recently; however, that I realize it wasn’t necessarily about the specific conversation at hand . . . it was our togetherness, our interaction, our time to share, learn and time to be a family. It wasn’t just dinner–I realized it was more about the development of my personal sense of identity and values that I hold today. Truly, it was the way I began to understand life . . .

As I have created my own extension of family with my wife, Adrienne, and two children Isabella and Cameron, life continues to blossom. I can only hope and pray that I, too, can provide such life through family.