Monday, April 27, 2009

This I believe

There is a program currently on NPR, and available on Podcast, called This I Believe. It's one of my favorite things to listen to, as every essay brings a new perspective, and makes me question my own ideas. (Questions are good.)

This has me ruminating about what I believe in. It turns out that it's not so easy to narrow it down to a few succinct sentences; it's not easy to summarize a lifetime's beliefs in one small essay. I'd like to write my own This I Believe essay, but I can't yet, because as usual, I haven't come up with the one defining belief that would make it all worthwhile. I'm thinking about it, though, and I'm starting to define a list of things that I believe in.

- Having cancer does not make anyone a better person. In perusing the "This I believe" archives, there are countless essays on cancer, and many of them contain the word "gift." Well, I'm here to tell you that I do not believe that cancer is a gift, unless by "gift" you mean "useless, ugly item that one can't get rid of and wishes one had never received." For me, the word gift is full of positive connotations: the love of the giver, the delight of receipt, the warmth of friendship, the smile of knowing that someone thought of you, the joy of Christmas or birthdays or (my favorite of all) just the joy of giving. Cancer evokes none of these images for me. I think that the people who believe that cancer is a gift think that cancer somehow made them a better person, and I'm glad for them, but I utterly, completely, adamantly disagree. I think that cancer amplifies what you already have, but I don't think that it makes anyone better, or worse. For some, actually, it causes them to hide their head in the sand. For some, cancer is a weapon that allows them to be unkind to others under the guise of "hey I have cancer I can say whatever I want!" And certainly, for some, it causes them to look deeper into themselves and pull up whatever they like best from inside. Cancer did not make me a better person. I believe that cancer was just one of life's many reminders - admittedly, a louder reminder than most - to be who I want to be, but cancer did not change who I am. Cancer changed my life, but it did not change me.
(Caveat: I am a changed person. But I believe that life did the changing, not cancer. Still working on this idea.)

- I believe that my daughter is the wisest teacher I have ever met. Through her six year old eyes, I learn perseverence (learning the monkey bars, despite blisters from her attempts); I learn observance (oooooooooooh look at the bug's wings - they're so pretty!); I learn faithful love (six year olds know how to love a friend like no other); I learn how to laugh at just about anything, including bad jokes; I learn how to use my body (freely, in running and climbing and jumping and without a thought). When I hear her use my words, I learn who I am, and what I like and loathe about myself.

- I believe that simplicity is the most complicated idea. I've heard "less is more" more times than I can count, but I also see that there are entire sections at the library how to live with less, how to enjoy more with less, how to de-schedule, how to focus on what's important and give up the rest. It's not easy, being simple, and being simple is not simplistic.

- I believe that without compassion toward self we are completely incapable of true compassion towards others.

- I believe that perfection is a curse and not a blessing, and that pursuit of perfection ruins lives.

- I believe in birthdays, and in marking them with celebrations of simply being alive.

- I believe that the food I prepare is a sign of my love. Some meals are celebratory for people that I love, but that's not quite it.... I believe that when I take the time to find healthy, delicious food ideas, and prepare them well, I am demonstrating my love not only for the people who will eat my food, but for being alive, for caring for my body, and even, if done right, caring for the earth.

- I believe that we will never find peace through war.

- I believe that it is possible to have too many friends.

- I believe that in an effort to not miss out on anything, I may be missing out on the most important things of all.

- I believe that everyone struggles, and that knowing that, life is much easier.

And I could go on. What do you believe?
(Note: you can read the most popular, the most recent, or you can search by topic. Some 60,000 essays have been submitted so far. I'm still working on mine.)

1 comment:

jennyward said...

very nice, girl!!! makes me miss you even much more!!!