Final Thoughts: This I Believe II

I believe that in this world there is and always has been so much sadness and sorrow, so much uncertainty, that if we didn’t set aside time for merriment, gifts, music, and laughter with family and friends, we might just forget to celebrate altogether. We’d just plod along in life.

Melinda Shoaf, “The Designated Celebrator”

I adore this book as much as I adored the first one. This I Believe II: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman is a fantastic collection of widely varying essays about beliefs and life philosophies. I was fascinated by how wide-ranging and varied they are.

I believe children possess an enviable ability to cope with and make sense of what even adults find confounding; they can accept the unacceptable in a way that astonishes me.

Martha Leathe, “Telling Kids the Whole Truth”

The “This I Believe” project has collected thousands of essays and this is just a small, curated sampling. The book is filled with fascinating lives and bits of wisdom, though. Sometimes they don’t align, but they are all perfectly true in their own way. And nobody here is trying to make them work in harmony. It’s completely ok that they are all true at the same time without needing to all agree on anything.

I’ve only slowly come to realize that good givers are those who learn to receive with grace as well.

Kevin Kelly, “The Universe is Conspiring to Help Us”

Perhaps the element of this project and this book that I am most enamored of is that it celebrates the wisdom of every life, every experience, every point of view. No story is unacceptable and no point of view is without value. They are all worth remembering and sharing. You might get an essay professing that every person is capable of great kindness and a few pages later find one that states unequivocally that every person is capable of great cruelty, but both are true and insightful and useful. Every story matters.

I believe that there is no one right way to cope with all the pain of living.

Barbara Held, “Combating the Tyranny of the Positive Attitude”

I think that one of my favorite things about this collection is that it really invites you to think in different ways. Some statements on the face of them seem alien and off-putting, but others are as familiar and accepted as self-evident truths. But the thing is that all are both – it all depends on your point of view. What seems completely obvious to one person is a completely untrue or even an offensive concept to another. Yet all are true somewhere. Truth is funny that way. It doesn’t wear one face and there is no definitive version of it.

When needs seem most urgent – even life-threatening – the practice of slowing down offers calm and clarity.

Phil Powers, “The Practice of Slowing Down”

I would absolutely recommend this book. And the website that houses the entire collection of thousands of these essays. It’s an amazing way to learn hard-earned wisdom from other lives and to see what other points of view are like. Sometimes I find that the lesson someone else takes away from an experience is not remotely the same as the lesson I took away, and that’s not only okay, but it means that by sharing our lessons we are both enriched and our worlds expanded. All from the same experience!

I believe my soul inspires me to make decisions to diminish pain and increase love in the lives I touch. Lots of times I try, but fail. On a good day I actually get it right.

Bill Nunan, “My Personal Leap of Faith”

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