The Strength of Beauty

Tamara - Spring, Texas
Entered on January 8, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
  • 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 believe that beauty is stronger than pain and fear.

On my sixteenth birthday I took some time to reflect on the two halves of my life. The first was spent in Washington and featured a bipolar father and a violent divorce; it included a working single mother going to college and very little money. The second half, in which I am living now, is in Texas with my mother and stepfather, and a vague fear of the future.

I have no memory of the traumatic things that my family tells me happened in my childhood. This has never sat quietly with me. I have always held the belief that a person’s childhood usually affects their current mental health, especially the bad bits. But I have a blank there whenever I try to remember. It’s like it didn’t even happen to me. This has given me a little residual doubt about the actual events, as if some higher power decided to plant seeds of discontent between me and the closest members of my family.

But I do remember little things, like the plants growing in my grandmother’s garden. She used to tell me stories about fairies living in my favorite blue flowers. I remember the redwood stump in our backyard that grew salmonberries on the very top, and the way the morning glories climbed over our swing set. It’s things like those that stick in my mind, places where I was content and I could be still and thoughtful.

Just because I can’t remember the bad things, doesn’t mean they’re not in my mind somewhere though. I’m sure they’ve affected my mental health and personality somehow.

But there must be a reason that I remember the things I do, and on my sixteenth birthday I realized that reason: that the memories I can get to are so much stronger than the ones I can’t. Fear and anger, pain and sadness are amorphous and easy to sink into for a moment, but they fade. Beauty is something immortal, and shows in the kindness of others, the way the sunlight feels on your skin, and the sound of rain on concrete.

I believe that the memories I have are not only stronger because the stuff that they are made of is stronger, but that I am constantly reminded of the same beauty in the half of my life that I’m living now. It’s outstanding and everywhere around me. You could find it anywhere, even in the darkest places.

In fact, the darkest times can show you the greatest beauty- I can tell you that from personal experience.