This I Believe

Justin - Cedar, Michigan
Entered on November 18, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • 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 once believed I was a victim of a cosmic wheel of fate, a pawn to be manipulated by the inscrutable designs of some celestial chess master. Who fabricated my wretched addiction to videogames and seared my skin with the odious pallor that marked me a social outcast. Who schemed to enfeeble my limbs and deny me athleticism. Who constructed for me a life of perennial isolation, adrift and tousled about by the mad turnings of a world I didn’t understand. I was content to ascribe all signs of personal fallibility to the machinations of a supreme being, and so perpetuate my abject existence. That is, until my confrontation with the garden pea plant.

As fate would have it, my mother had enlisted me to help my grandmother replant portions of her garden when I was fifteen years old. It was a balmy summer day, and as I toiled–quite desperately due to my dearth of physical strength–against the baleful gaze of the sun and the scorching heat of the ground, I noticed a lone garden pea plant clinging to the side of a dilapidated fence. The ramshackle wooden barrier was riddled with holes and eruptions of wood, carefully positioned snares that should have entangled the presumably unwary plant. Yet, in a grand defiance of Destiny‘s clear objective, the pea plant had circumvented each gap, evading perilous traps with heroic twists and grasping tendrils. The devices of fate could not stop the pea plant from raising itself to the savory rays of the sun, for it was determined to forge a path through the adversities that threatened it.

The pea plant’s coup against my fantasized wheel of fortune became a rogue subtext flowing in the stream of my subconscious. It influenced me to reconsider the concept of freewill that had been nullified by my reliance on destiny as a source of vindication for lethargy and self-inflicted failures. As tiny streams can carve caverns in mountains, so too did a confluence of trickling thoughts and small realizations gouge out my deep-seated belief. I slowly constructed a routine of self-improvement, eliminating my detrimental fixation on materialism and disciplining myself to create a focused life. Every press of the bench bar at the local gym, every page turned in educational textbooks, and every fresh bond formed in social circles became cathartic revolts against destiny.

Through my exertions, I came to believe that self-discipline is liberation from the cruelty of fate. It is only by mastering my thoughts that I was able to change my actions, and, in turn, transcend the confines of predestination. Self-discipline allowed me to assert my willpower over base desires, bestowed upon me the fortitude to persevere, and endowed me with the ability to reject immediate gratification. Through living with a pseudo-Spartan mentality, concentrating virtually all of my efforts on self-improvement, not feeding any precious time to the gluttonous beast called Apathy, I can now choose my own behavior and actions rather than being a slave to them.