Tuesday, December 28, 2010


This is the sixth post in my This I Believe series.


Amidst all of the scurrying and hurrying that the holiday season inevitably brings, I’ve found myself thinking about this next entry a few times lately. For a couple of reasons, I’ve decided to choose “existence” as my next topic. I tried to choose one that rather aptly ties in with this miraculous season in the Christian calendar, but none of the remaining 10 topics screamed “Christmas.” However, while thinking about which one to write about, “existence” kept coming to mind, and then I realized that this fits perfectly.

I was standing at the sink in my kitchen the other day lamenting to myself about the bothersome and persistent pain of a cut on my right index finger. In the winter, my hands, like so many other peoples’, are prone to getting overly dry, especially around the knuckles, and the skin tends to crack easily. I have a particularly annoying crack on the aforementioned index finger, which being the dominant finger on my dominant hand, this gets bumped, jostled, and scraped a lot. I was standing there trying to do whatever I was doing without hurting it, and some vague, wispy memory came to mind about pain. Can it exist if we don’t allow it to exist? I’m thinking that it’s some reference to a movie, maybe Denzel Washington? Maybe The Hurricane? But, would pain disappear if we refused to acknowledge its existence? Pain is a pretty powerful and motivational force in our world as well as each of our individual lives. What kind of mental temerity and strength would we have to possess individually in order to distance our belief of what pain is from everything we have previously experienced and been taught about before? Is it possible?

Yet faith is no more tangible than pain. It is equally invisible, elusive, and powerful. This is the perfect time of the year to exemplify this point. What better time than Christmas is there to demonstrate faith, at least from a Christian belief? We collectively proclaim our faith in this newborn child, a seemingly ridiculous act. People re-affirm their intrinsic belief that Christ existed in human form and in so doing has established an eternal existence.

I very distinctly remember the uncanny feeling throughout the first trimester of my pregnancy when I knew that I was pregnant but had nothing outwardly physical to show or touch in order to confirm this other growing being; day to day, I had nothing more than a basic faith that there was another being who was existing. Conversely, I (again) vaguely remember watching a movie or television show where the evil villain was eventually destroyed because collectively, the people he was fighting against turned their back on him and forgot about him, thus destroying any belief in his existence. Ultimately, I believe that we are not inherently born with the ability to forget existence. Maybe collectively is the only way that we are strong enough to both destroy or nurture it.

Monday, December 20, 2010


This is the fifth in my This I Believe Series.


Memories seem to be so straightforward; everyone has them, and how happy many of them make us. Memories simply make the holidays, so this post seems to be aptly timed to some extent. This year, we are staying home on Christmas day, not seeing any other family members for various reasons (not because we’re grinchy and self-consumed). This is really weird to me as if the holiday isn’t really a holiday. I can’t remember ever having such a Christmas ever before, and because I don’t have a memory of this, I feel somewhat lost in this unusual circumstance. I have no memory for it to tell me how it will be.

When I teach Developmental Reading, I choose to read The Giver with the kids, and this book is centered around a community that has no memories. Every memory (which is also translated as historical fact) is kept within one individual and is then subsequently passed down periodically to the next Receiver of Memories. Ultimately, the conclusion that the reader is intended to realize is that we actually cause more harm to our society if we don’t permit individual memories. Such a simple conceptual idea made all the difference for the demise of this community.

Obviously, individual memories are important. Isn’t this ability truly a magnificent gift? Just like any other God-given gift, I believe that we must learn to accept the imperfections that such an ability brings. There are innumerable circumstances where memories prove to be torturous rather than sustaining. Yet I believe that these painful memories are as necessary as any healthful ones. Do understand that I say this guardedly, however, because I am fully aware that such outright statements of belief are forcing me into a gray area between truth and arrogance, even hypocrisy. I truly believe in what I am saying, yet can I make such bold claims when my life has been sheltered and soft? I can’t say that I have had to endure and make some sense of agonizing memories, but does that negate my beliefs? My arrogance says no, that my beliefs are still valid in their honesty.

Regardless, memories are charming, poignant, heartrending bits of the past that are unique to each individual. I am comforted in knowing that for every memory in our individual pasts, there are also countless more that have yet to occur in our consciousness; but, our future memories are out there on our God’s radar. This, I truly believe.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


This is the fourth in my ongoing This I Believe Series.


My job is definitely not perfect. I just finished up another Friday night/all day Saturday combo of grading and grad work. It’s a wicked combination, but one that is thankfully nearly done, at least for the time being (oh, I’m such a waffler). Luckily, I’ve never been someone who lives for Friday/Saturday night. I like being at home, comfy, cozy, preferably doing nothing important. Yet for about 9 months of the year, my weekend nights are often quiet, comfy nights doing the necessary chore of grading.

But this post isn’t about grading, so I’ll give up my wayward rant and return to the crux of my belief—I believe in learning. I know, shocking. Revelatory. I’m really throwing myself out on a limb on this one. Who would ever have thought that Amy would believe in learning?!? I admit that I’m an educational junkie. Why else would I shell out about $12,000 for a degree that will potentially be insignificant in the long run of my career? For that matter, why else would I choose to work as a teacher? I just believe that there is an inherent necessity in all of us to form a basis of understanding about a plethora of interdisciplinary topics. I mean, of course I’m glad that I’ve been forced to take science classes insofar as I appreciate having some basis of understanding from them. But I also truly believe that the greater role of education is instilling a fundamental realization that we are all life long learners (yeah, I know…Manchester was a great fit for me, right?). So it turns out that I basically just stumbled into going to Manchester, but what I learned there about not only the process of education but also how to accept education are fundamental beliefs that guide my professional career now.

For those of you who wonder what I’m going to do once I graduate—I’m going to work. Yep. There you go; that’s my answer. Way before Abby, when Ben and I were engaging in a discourse that involved such abstract concepts as marriage and potential children, I clearly remember swearing that I would never permanently be a stay at home mom. I still don’t think that I ever will be because I’m too addicted to education. I will work in the educational field for the rest of my working life, of this I am certain unless something freakish and/or horrendous happens. This is not only my professional identity but it is also a belief that I have chosen to embrace regardless of how many Friday and Saturday nights are devoted to senior Composition essay and vocab tests rather than television and movies.

There are so many problems that we must confront in education, really scary problems that will affect our children. But I can’t give up on it just because it’s sometimes broken. I won’t be able to fix it on my own, but I can still hold out some hope in it. This, I believe.