This They Believe

I recently finished reading “This I Believe”, a compilation of 500-word essays on various people’s self-articulated core beliefs. Virtually every essay, whether you agree with the beliefs in it or not, makes for fascinating reading. Here are just a few of my favorite excerpts:

  • Isabel Allende:
    “What is the point of having experience, knowledge, or talent if I don’t give it away? Of having stories if I don’t tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don’t share it? I don’t intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world, and with the divine.”
  • Mary Cook:
    “One very wise man told me, ‘You are not doing nothing. Being fully open to your grief may be the hardest work you will ever do.’ “
  • Albert Einstein:
    “Alongside the development of individual abilities, the education of the individual aspires to revive an ideal that is geared toward the service of our fellow man, and that needs to take the place of the glorification of power and outer success.”
  • Martha Graham:
    “I believe that we learn by practice. […] Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”
  • Brian Greene:
    “I believe the process of going from confusion to understanding is a precious, even emotional, experience that can be the foundation of self-confidence.”
  • Rick Moody:
    “I read Umberto Eco’s ‘Role of the Reader’, in which it is said that the reader completes the text, that the text is never finished until it meets this voracious and engaged reader. The open texts, Eco calls them.”
  • Mel Rusnov:
    “In ordinary life, I’m a civil engineer. […] But in my other life, I am a pianist… [After gaining applause from an impromptu performance in an airport lobby,] I thought: No one smiled and clapped after my presentation on the site engineering for a new strip mall.”
  • Wallace Stegner:
    “Everything potent, from human love to atomic energy, is dangerous; it produces ill about as readily as good; it becomes good only through the control, the discipline, the wisdom with which we use it.”
  • Deirdre Sullivan:
    “‘Always go to the funeral’ means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don’t really have to and I definitely don’t want to.”

I’m not quite ready to submit my own essay, but I’m very much looking forward to discussing these beliefs, and more, with my fellow salonniers.