Playground Uprising


This I Believe
June 13, 2007, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Belief, Depression, Education, Family, writing

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This I Believe …

Yesterday my class examined personal writing, in particular the Personal Essay. NPR’s series “This I Believe” served as the focus for our craft study. If you have not heard this weekly segment aired on NPR, and especially if you have, I encourage you to explore the site: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4538138.

There you will find brave men and women telling, through voice recordings and written text, stories that will change who you might become. Some are famous, some live next door, some say things that make you think, “this man is talking to me,” and others document experiences you can’t imagine owning.

Andy Blowers’ personal essay on Depression, “The Person I’m Suppose to Be,” served as our model. He wrote, “At 16, my first episode hit me hard enough to think I’d literally gone to hell. Now, at 35, when I start dreaming of haunted houses and worrying uncontrollably about the future, I know another episode is looming. I’ve got a week’s notice, maybe two. And then it’s as if I’m drifting off to exile inside myself with only a shell remaining.” I selected this piece because it spoke to my experiences and personal essays at their core are intimate. (Andy’s story: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=8931602).

Following our investigation, the students had twenty-minutes to write their own “This I Believe” personal essay. In response to Andy’s belief, “I believe pain tells us something critical about ourselves and life: that developing strength and empathy and bravery is more essential than our personal comfort. And when I think of it like that, I’m more willing to accept suffering on its terms,” I wrote:

This I Believe …

I believe that madness is hard to define, easy to slip into, and often undistinguishable from daily reality. I know this because my mother is mad. In other words, she is mad at herself, and her situation, and the perceived predicament that has put her here, with her anger, her anxiety, her mania, and her psychosis. And it is this expression of madness that makes me know that she needs help that I cannot provide and have difficulty accepting because I don’t know when she is angry, and when she is mad, and when the darkness pervades so as to completely dismiss her from my reality, therefore, giving her a pass on the unkind word, or inappropriate stance, or threatening move forward. But it is the undistinguishability of this madness that makes me believe that though the presence or absence and origin are important to her doctors and psychotherapists and case workers they are increasingly less important to me, that meaning and understanding reached a 33 year plateau in books, and conference calls, and appointments, and now lies solely in listening, whether it be to sanity or departure, and praying for more peaceful tomorrows.

Now a request for hopeful response:

Students …. if you are bored enough to actually check out my site today I would love for you to post your own “This I Believe” essay. You have important things to share.

For the world at large: I too invite you to tell me what “you believe.”
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