Charlie - Jonesboro, Georgia
Entered on March 8, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: purpose

I believe in nothing. Not warm, fuzzy feelings. Not pursuit of ethereal and ephemeral “dreams”. Not complimentary postcards on a rainy day when you’re sick and your neighbor that you thought hated you made you a delicious, steaming bowl of soup so that you could “get better soon, you hear?” Just plain-old nothing, because no one doesn’t believe in nothing.

It was late and the stars and the moon gazed mildly with veiled face upon my labors. Hunched over my desk, my creative mind was on the home stretch of a marathon. Note by note, from soprano to bass, I was diligently filling my chordal structures with melody and harmoniousness. It felt like I was tiptoeing towards the finish line, but I remembered that I was working toward a goal: “For your homework tonight, I would like you to come up with something creative.” Oh so gradually, I was coming up with it.

As a student, I have pulled all-nighters trying to get assignments and papers (usually procrastinated) completed on time. Hopped up on coffee or energy drinks, my papers and essays would get done by the early hours of the morning. I lent my mind to the concepts and my fingers to the laptop. Oh so gradually, the paragraphs would form themselves into a cohesive body.

It was 1963, and my grandfather was aboard a Pan-American flight from Havana, Cuba to the U.S. with his 13-month-old daughter, my mother. When he de-boarded, he had nothing. My grandmother would not be able to leave Cuba for another year. Oh so gradually, he built a life for himself, for his family, and for me.

This is why I believe in nothing. I have always marveled at the creativity, the ingenuity of the human spirit. Sometimes, even at my own. Each work of art or skill, each “masterpiece” is like a child- a brainchild. This is why there cannot be a world as beautiful and complex, as stark and humbling, as breathtaking and comically infuriating as it is if there is not nothing. Oh so gradually, you have to start from somewhere.

In the dreary, mundane events of my human existence, I forget. In the cosmically unimportant kinds of ups and downs that are often described in rapt detail within people’s Christmas letters, I forget. I forget that I have so much: from running water to a sound K-11 education. As a person who has relatively everything, I cannot help but appreciate the nothing. As much as I may convince myself that the earth is formless and void, there is light. But the only way that I can appreciate the brightness I have been given is to remember that I came from nothing. This, I believe.