By Sarah Collier
I’m four; I believe there’s a monster under my bed who will surely eat me if given the chance. I’m seven; I believe animals talk amongst themselves when no one is around and that fairies hide in the tangles of strawberry vines that grow against the back wall of my house. I’m nine; I believe that terrorists will come from far away to kill my family and friends and I don’t know why. I’m fourteen; I believe that all of our fears are lies, invented and perpetuated by people with power in order to control us. I’m eighteen; I’m not entirely sure what to believe.
So I believe in things that are true and things that are probably not true. I’m gullible; I believe everything I’m told as easily as breathing. I’m cynical; I believe only what I can see with my own eyes or discover for myself.
I believe that bad things happen to good people. I believe that when we come to see things as not merely happening, but happening to us, it becomes very tempting to grasp blindly for something or someone to blame. But I believe that sometimes things just happen, and the ways we choose to deal with those things come to define us, for better or for worse.
I believe in regret. I believe that leaving words unsaid does a disservice to all involved. I believe that pride and denial are our biggest and most pitiless adversaries; they sneak up on us when we need to be at our most humble, our most understanding and accepting.
I believe that it is better to be a scared little girl in the darkness with a monster that isn’t there than a disillusioned teenager who’s seen a few too many real monsters to have much more than a rather cold and detached view of death and loss—things we can’t change.
But I believe that losing is an art form, and that we must tread delicately when we encounter loss if we wish to remain intact. I believe that losing someone dear to you compels you—no, forces you—to cherish every relationship, every small, fragile moment with someone you love, as if it were truly your last.
I believe in taking time to appreciate the little reminders the world gives us which let us know that we are alive and well: a deep breath in the morning, the scent of a new book, the beauty in a bright blue sky just after a long storm.
According to George Herbert, “every path hath a puddle.” I believe in hope: some puddles are larger than others, but nearly all are passable, and with hope, we can overcome all that is daunting and wearisome and disheartening. I believe that, with hope, we have a chance.