This I Believe

Dana - Wilmington, Massachusetts
Entered on December 12, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: work
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I was first introduced to the television show Columbo two years ago when my dad found it on TV some Sunday in the school year. I really didn’t think much of it at first, but for some reason, I began watching more and more episodes and I loved them all. Columbo is a show from the 1970s that is about a character named Lieutenant Columbo who works as a homicide detective in the LAPD. Unlike most detective shows, the murder and the murderer is shown in the beginning of the episode. So the entertainment in the episode isn’t who the murderer is; the entertainment is how Lieutenant Columbo finds out. But it was the character of Columbo that got my attention. He wears a raincoat rather than a uniform, is somewhat out of shape, always smokes a cigar, and gets off topic very easily. In general, he comes off as an idiot. But behind his apparent slow-wittedness and friendly demeanor is someone who is constantly thinking about his next move. And after poking at the inconsistencies of the murder and the suspect’s story, he is able to get his guy. I saw a lot of similarities between me and Columbo. Neither of us gives off the best first impression. But we both know we can show our true selves, slowly but surely. I believe in not taking my life for granted but not forgetting that by going at my own pace, like Columbo, I will get to where I want to be.

Last spring, I tried out for the tennis team. I was very unsure of my skills as a player. My backhand was weak, my serve was weak, and my forehand was decent. It was only with the encouragement of my mom that I tried out. I did end up making the team, but I was definitely one of the weaker players. I knew I loved the game and I was confident I could be a good player. By the end of the season, I had significantly improved thanks to some helpful coaching and watching good tennis. Still, I think I was considered one of the weaker players by my peers. And if they did think that, they were right. There were so many things I had to improve on and still have to improve on. One thing I don’t think they considered, though, was that I was driven on improving and that I knew, slowly but surely, I would become a better tennis player. Over the summer, I did get to play a lot of tennis and I don’t like to brag, but I did pull off a few upsets. I took a lot of pride in those wins and I was feeling like Lieutenant Columbo. Through love of the game and hard work, all while working at my own pace, I became a competitor.

This belief is also about my own peace of mind. When I was eight years old, I learned to juggle three balls. For whatever reason, I wanted to juggle. It became my main hobby and I have had many memorable experiences because of it. In the years going into eighth and ninth grade, I went to the International Juggler’s Association Festival. In the summer of 2006, the fest was in Portland, Oregon. I saw a kid there whom I had seen juggling the year before at the last convention. He was very good then, and when I saw him in Portland, he was even better. I found out he had been juggling for two or three years. I had been juggling for six years at the time and he was already better than me. There was some initial jealousy, but I came to realize that whatever he did shouldn’t matter to me. Juggling should be a discovery process for me and if that kid does more than I can do than six years, then I should just tell him how great I think he is. It’s always nice to have someone make you humble anyway.

I really do believe that I will become the person I want to be. I have to work hard and exercise patience, though. Columbo’s suspect was once the police commissioner, his superior. He knew the commissioner was the murderer but it was a tough job for him, seeing as this was the person he worked for. Finally, Columbo came up with a plan and set up a trap which incriminated him. Columbo knew he would get his guy just like I know I will become a good tennis player, a good juggler, and, most importantly, a good human being. One of my favorite Columbo lines comes after he has nabbed his guy who also happens to be a magician. The magician said that he thought he had performed the perfect murder. Columbo replied, “Perfect murder, sir? Oh, I’m sorry. There’s no such thing as a perfect murder. That’s just an illusion.” Other than it just being a great line, it reminds me that anything that seems impossible is just an illusion. I have the will and I have the patience in myself to accomplish what I want to accomplish at my own pace.