This is What I Believe

On NPR, there was a segment called “This I Believe,” where Americans could submit essays about the values that shape their every day lives. The program is now defunct but you can read past submissions from a few years ago to all the way in the 1950s. From what I read, most of the submitters share the same ideals. Yes, they came from different cultures and faraway cities but for the most part, they all had the same beliefs- the golden rule, honesty, living the best life you possibly could. In lieu of last week’s posting, I wanted to post some of the key ideas that I believe in, little tidbits of my life core that I choose to live by.

I believe that everyone on the planet should own and know how to ride a bicycle. Not only because of the exercise value (going uphill for twenty minutes on your fixed gear will do wonders for your calves) but also for the environment’s sake. A five minute car ride to the  market can produce up to 10 pounds of CO2- a bicycle produces none (unless the bicyclist just finished eating a plate of tacos and frijoles). Save the planet and put the pedal to the metal.

I believe in the power of music. Yes, medicine does work miracles sometimes but it can’t cure loneliness or a broken heart. No drug can give you that unnatural high of seeing your favorite band or performer live, standing a few feet away right in front of your eyes. When I hear a pretty tune for the first time, my limbs start to tingle, almost like my blood flow is being kicked into overdrive. My heart starts to beat faster and my feet start to move. My fingers move into the air-guitar/ air-piano position. And lip-syncing, too. I can’t sing to save my life but I can lip-sync better than anyone else I know. Movies have the same affect for me. They inspire my dreams and cause me to create. And both has cured bouts of my loneliness and depression.

I believe that only you could create your own happiness. Happiness is a funny emotion. For me, it comes and goes quickly until I force it to stay. Once that happens, that giddy feeling can usually manifest into a beautiful, heartfelt day, week, whatever. But it does take the extra effort… and maybe some extra endorphins and vitamin D- put on your running shoes and spend sometime outside in the sunshine. (And I hate the phrase ‘money can’t buy you happiness.’ That’s some serious bull. Ever since I purchased my iPod, I have been walking around with an extra swing in my step.)

And acting like a five-year-old and listening to your inner child. When I have to sit and answer phones at work, I bring paper and colored pencils to pass the time in between phone calls. I’ll admit it- I love to color. I have since the day I could hold a writing utensil. My co-workers make fun of me drawing stick figures but when I tape one of my drawings to their office door, I know that they’d have the biggest smile on their faces upon seeing it. (Art is like both music and the written word to me- those forms of creativity inspire warm, happy feelings.) I never resist the urge to splash in rain puddles, snuggle with my Care Bear at night and watch cartoons Saturday mornings with a heaping bowl of Lucky Charms sans milk.

Despite being a person of very few spoken words, I believe in asking people how their day is going. It shows respect and compassion. I always ask my boss, my roommates, my sisters, the FedEx delivery driver, the cleaning lady. Even if I don’t know you, I will ask you that question. This past New Year’s Eve, me and some friends were waiting for the A train to head uptown when this homeless man approached us. I asked him how he was doing and had a rather interesting conversation with him before he moved on to the next group of young women, hassling them for loose change. People may have that look in their eyes that scream “LEAVE ME ALONE” but secretly, deep-down, I believe that everyone wants someone to talk to, to feel a connection with, no matter how small that interaction may be. This is something that both my mother and an old college co-worker had taught me and that I’m thankful that they sub-consciously stapled this to my brain.

This (as well as many more other things) is what I believe. This is what I hold true to my heart and my soul. Erza Pound was quoted with saying, What matters is not the idea a man holds, but the depth at which he holds it. With that quotation in mind, I will end with this question: What do you believe in?

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