National Public Radio produces a regular series of short essays submitted by listeners called This I Believe. The series is based on a 1950s-era radio program that was hosted by Edward R. Murrow . In the spirit of the series, I present my own original essay, aptly titled This I Believe.
believe in life. In all its glorious complexity, ambiguity, and paradox, I
believe in life. Life is not a clean-room; it’s a junkyard. Life is not a binary series of ones and
zeroes; it’s analog, not digital.
an old vinyl record, life is punctuated by hisses and pops, bumps and ridges,
smudges and skips, crackles and snaps. Many
audiophiles insist that vinyl records sound better than digitally produced
music in spite of, or perhaps because of, these imperfections. A music file on my Ipod sounds exactly the
same every time it is played. A vinyl
record, though, with its superior dynamism, generates a new experience with
each journey round the phonograph spindle.
is disruption, surprise, and chaos. Life
is not black and white; it’s a fireworks display.
Life is not an Ansel Adams photograph; it’s a Jackson
human being is life in microcosm—beauty and wonder and miraculous complexity
mingled inseparably with vulgarity, pain, and darkness. Like the earth seen from space, the body
viewed from a distance is a singular thing, parts working seamlessly together
in a semblance of perfect union. But
beneath the veneer of order is disarray and decay. The illusion of design gives way upon closer
examination to a vision of messiness—blood vessels cavorting this way and that,
electrical impulses careening through neurons and synapses. And so it is with the world—as The
Temptations called it, a “ball of confusion” spinning wildly in precarious
orbit round a second-rate star in the suburbs of the Milky Way.
of us is an individual spinning through life like that record on the turntable
or the earth circling the sun—our personal thoughts, emotions, and acts imbued
with ambiguity, wrapped in riddle, pierced by paradox.
I embrace the
hisses, pops, smudges, and skips I see in my own life. And I take pleasure in the bumps, ridges,
crackles, and snaps I observe in others. Sometimes we expect reason and order to reign in our minds and hearts when
we ought to revel in the depth and dimension that randomness, irony, and whimsy
yield in our souls. Partners in intimate
relationships too often judge one another’s thoughts and desires as if such
things can be made to bow before the throne of sensibility and sense. In a committed partnership, no thought or
feeling ought to be out of bounds, no genuine sentiment worthy of censure, no passionate
desire left unexpressed because of a misplaced sense of guilt or fear of rebuke. I believe this is the key to deep, lasting,
view myself as I really am rather than as others would like me to be a vibrant,
beautiful world opens up. I am filled
with a sense of relief, at peace with who I am and my human limitations. I no longer need to maintain an illusion of
adherence to some artificially imposed standard of thought and behavior. I am freed from judgmentalism and hypocrisy. I become capable of defining the boundaries
of my marriage relationship around mutual trust, admiration, love, and respect. My intimate companion is able to burst from
the chains that tradition and dogma have clamped on her soul. I accept the flaws, weaknesses, incongruities,
and magnificent mysteries she embodies. I
rejoice in her ambiguities, complexities, and paradoxes. And she can know that I love her all the more
because of them.
This I believe.