Although I write only infrequently about Dan Pink, his book A Whole New Mind was a huge influence for me, and among his six “senses” is “Meaning – the purpose is the journey, give meaning to life from inside yourself.” Pat Bassett, in his presentation on Pink’s important message, uses a charming, compelling youtube video to illustrate the development of the important sense Pink calls meaning. There is also a wonderful website promoting this kind of thinking and writing: ThisIbelieve.org.
One of our fine St. Gregory English teachers, Elizabeth Young, had her 12th grade students participate in the project; below is one of our students’ excellent essays, from Sarah Tillery:
This I Believe
Of all the things in the world to believe in, Gods, leaders, philosophies, or galaxies far, far away, I believe in people.
People are creators. I don’t know about religion, but I know about imagination, hope, and creativity, and every person, no matter to what lot in life they are assigned, is a creative mind. We dreamed up the meanings of the world, the words rock and water were never there until our eyes sparkled and our minds clicked and someone said: “This is stone.” Until then it was molecules, bound together by laws unthought-of, only adhered to by a nature not yet understood. Not until man thought to see beauty in it, to carve it, and present it to another and say “This is beautiful” did the world become the world.
The power of the human mind to dream up reason, to build hope in each other, to lead forcefully, to follow faithfully, to believe in something, to simply wish and concoct ways to achieve their biggest desires—it’s infinite. Positively limitless. It is the power to find connections with others from animals to books to landscapes to one another and with all the magnitude of their mind and the sincerity of their soul say “I love.” It’s a power source that immeasurable, uncontainable, and lights up the world like a giant sun, radiating from the force of their own creation. It is unique to human kind.
To think these simple words hope, dream, love, think— these are the words that create us, the world around us— Buildings, governments, canals, space craft, music, art, homes, stories, anything your heart desires! These are the words that define humanity because these are the words we thought of to define us. These are the words that built civilizations and destroyed nations, wrote the most beautiful lyrics of poetry and burned down the greatest library in existence. These words are also the words that determined such a library should have once existed. The human being— the person is a thing of complexity, simplicity, good, evil, joy, sorrow, and everything in between. There is a beautiful creator in all of us that echoes deep within our eyes and escapes into our smiles and daily conversation, and gives us some spark to make the world into our own, our own memories, our own stories, our own lives.
That is the beauty of the human story. That is the nature of the creator in us all. Despite the capacity for overwhelming sorrow and anger in our lives, for jealousy, for hatred, for hopelessness and fear, there is that spark of creativity in us— Perhaps it is what people call the inner child— but there is that spark of life in us that allows us moments, brief and instantaneous, often forgotten, but always stored in our subconscious to cling to when all is lost. That spark provides moments of happiness, pure contentment in the form of playing catch with a dog, singing songs on long bus rides with your friends, or a kiss from someone you have been missing for a long time. In these moments we see the divine human comedy, as they call it. Despite all that there is to suffer through in life, despite all the boredom that we could potentially drown under in the monotonous sea of drudgery, that spark of life is always there. It keeps us going. It makes life worth living, and worth watching from high up above.
When I was little, I used to think people just kept getting taller and taller until they could step into the sky and watch the world on a big TV in the clouds. If there is a heaven to believe in, I hope it’s like that. Because there is nothing I’d like more than the ability to watch the lives of millions unfold, their ups, their downs, and their potential. There is no greater joy I feel, than to watch someone use their creative minds to their full extent and see what happens.
I believe in that spark. I believe in the creative mind. I believe that people are stories filled with happiness more so than sadness, and I believe in people’s ability to be great. Not anything too big or anything too fancy. Simply just contentedly great.