In learning how others have faced their problems,
this has given me fresh ideas about how to tackle mine.
~ Edward R. Murrow
Introducing the 1950’s radio series This I Believe

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Isabel Allende, Chilean-born American writer in her 70s, writes that she connects with others through giving (in This I Believe, see below). This giving connection soothes her ongoing grief for her beloved daughter Paula – who died before turning 30 after being cared for by her mother in a coma at home for a year.

Give, give, give –
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. …
It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world, and with the divine.                        

Allende addresses how she chooses to live in the acclaimed TED Talk– How to live passionately: No matter your age.Allende-My Invented Country

See also Allende’s bestseller memoir, My Invented Country.

Book Review

This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women.

Jay Allison & Dan Gediman, Editors
New York: Picador/Henry Holt Publishers, 2006.

In the 50s, Edward R Murrow, the famed World War II journalist and broadcaster, initiated a radio series in which listeners heard a five-minute statement This I Believe by celebrities and also everyday folks.  This series was revived in this century by National Public Radio in the USA. This volume includes the best of the essays from both eras.

Readers learn mucAllisonGediman06-This I Believeh from these essays — about values and what really matters, and also about how to write about our core values.  In his introduction, famed interviewer Studs Terkel writes movingly about how he has been transformed by how interviewees are transformed when they say something profound they didn’t know they knew. This can happen also in writing this type of essay.

Some of the titles are enlightening:

Jazz is the sound of God laughing
Disrupting my comfort zone
Testing the limits of what I know and feel (John Updike)
Goodness doesn’t just happen (Rebecca West)
Getting angry can be a good thing
The benefits of restlessness and jagged edges

Other essays have good lines:

I believe that free men over the world cherish the earth as cradle and tomb, the handiwork of their Master, the possession of the family of man. ~ Carl Sandberg

Limitation has its limits for those who, though disillusioned, live greatly.
~ Helen Keller

I believe the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it. ~ Jackie Robinson

I believe in poetry as a way of surviving emotional chaos, spiritual confusion, and traumatic events that come with being alive.     ~ Gregory Orr

An appendix outlines for potential writers how to write 300 words on This I Believe: Tell a story (Be specific); Be Brief; Name your Belief; Be Positive; Be personal (speak in the first person).

Community Engagement

Life review is an important part of adjusting to later life. As a writer, you can talk with older adults about what they stand for – ask them to tell you a story that shows their values and how they learned them or how they pass them on. You might assist those with impairments by recording and editing, by prompting for further details or for deeper emotions.

Secondly, you can organize a group discussion about beliefs and values around draft essays prepared by participants.  This is a great way to foster community, if done in a respectful manner.

Writing Exercise

Follow the writing tips listed at the end of the Book Review to draft a  This I Believe statement.  You might want to begin with a list of qualities you admire in others and seek for yourself as a way to recognize one which creates story energy to be developed.

When you are ready, you may submit your essay to the online collection of thousands to the website This I Believe.

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With this shadow photo, I bid you adieu
 Ellen