This I Believe

Nancy - San Francisco, California
Entered on February 7, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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The Happiness of Sharing

My fingers gently caressed the familiar black-and-white piano keys. As I played the last notes of the Chopin Nocturne, I saw my hands trembling. The final chord hung in the air for a moment, then dissolved like golden dust into the mournful atmosphere of the church. No one applauded; the congregation was solemnly silent. It had only been a few weeks since I last visited Jim at his house. When he asked me to played for his memorial service, I sobbed uncontrollably, yet couldn’t bring myself to imagine the service so soon.

I knew Jim as a parishioner at my church. A quiet and reserved man, he spoke little and I hardly knew anything about him except that he loved music. In fact, it was not until the service that I learned that he was a scientist and professor at UCSF. I regretted being unable to know him better, but I felt honored to be a part of the celebration for his life. With every note I played, I thought of offering my music to God for Jim. The feeling of loss weighed heavily on me as I shared in the congregation’s grief. Somehow, I felt I could connect to their sadness through my music.

On many nights when I meditated, I would ponder on questions about my life. What do I truly want to do? How can I live a purposeful life so then when I die, I can say “this was a worthwhile life”? I’m fifteen years old, but it’s time to think about this! Sometimes, I would be reminded of Jim. Will there be many friends and relatives to mourn my passing as people did for him? And will I deserve their mourning? Although I don’t have the answers yet, Jim’s memorial service gave me a sense of certainty about myself. I wanted a life of purpose to help others.

At this point, I thought of a remarkable lady I knew who devoted her life to helping others. After the loss of her mother, she volunteered to care for cancer patients. Later, she wanted to help families in their grief, so she began to send out “condolence letters”. For more than ten years, she sent out thousands of letters every year to families of victims of natural disasters, war, and even the 911 attack. I admired her for her kindness to help people during the darkest periods of their lives.

An old lady from church recently inspired my beliefs. I’ve been the organist for three years, and she liked my playing. Before the Christmas service, she hugged me and told me that she felt happy to listen to my music. “You are music to me,” she said. Her words meant more to me than any competition award. It was then that I realized the happiness of sharing! Indeed, music is all about sharing. I believe in the power of humanity and that every person is capable of it. I believe in the happiness of sharing. This I believe.