BeforeYourNext Birthday-DeniseFisher’s Blog

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This I Believe – Don’t Wait Too Late To Say It

Posted by denisefisher on February 18, 2009

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Listeners of NPR (National Public Radio) will be familiar with the title of this post. But for the uninitiated, let me take a moment to describe this weekly series of short personal essays that are read by their authors. The following paragraphs are from the This I Believe website:

What is This I Believe?
This I Believe is an international project engaging people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values that guide their daily lives. These short statements of belief, written by people from all walks of life, are archived here and featured on public radio in the United States, as well as in regular broadcasts on NPR. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow.

The History of This I Believe
At the dawn of the Cold War and the height of McCarthyism, Americans from all walks of life bravely spoke their beliefs on the original This I Believe.   Now, a new documentary tells the fascinating history of the series hosted by Edward R. Murrow.
Listen to the program including essays by Harry Truman, Margaret Mead, William O. Douglas, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and other prominent figures of the day.

I am writing a post about this now because the broadcasting of the program is scheduled to end in April 2009. For those who would like to write their own essay about what they believe and submit it for possible broadcast, the deadline is looming. For those who aren’t interested in having their story read on the air, this might serve as a call for action with a sense of urgency.

The guidelines for the broadcast version suggest a personal essay of about 350 – 500 words, which will last for about three minutes when read aloud in your natural speaking voice. (The length of this post is about 800 words.) To begin writing your essay, it is suggested that you first consider how it will be framed in a concrete belief or conviction. Then, you should tell a compelling story about how you came to hold that belief, or a time in which that belief was challenged, or how that belief shapes your daily activities. Identifying a single belief is usually more poignant than composing a list of all your beliefs. Though creating a list might be a good brainstorming activity to get you started, and your list might be something you want to keep as a separate document. Follow this link to submit your finished essay: http://thisibelieve.org/agree.html. Other pages on the site will answer frequently asked questions and give you samples to read or listen to.

This is a great task to undertake for your own thoughtful self-reflection. It can be something for you to use as a guide or mantra for how you live your life. Your personal values, put into writing, can be something you can share with those who are dear to you. Your statement, your story, can be something you leave to posterity. Add a photo of yourself to commemorate the times in which you lived, and you will have an instant keepsake. You could even have your story, with your photo framed to give as a gift to someone important in your life who would appreciate it more than any trendy novelty that you could purchase from a store.

Take the time to express your heartfelt story that tells about your personal beliefs and why they matter to you. You could even make it a family activity for a quiet Sunday afternoon. After each person writes their essay, they could have an audio-video recording made of them reading their essay, and you would end up with an amazing family time capsule. This seems like something that would mean a great deal when given as a special gift to either grandparents or adult children.

April is only a short time away. Designate a time now to make this a planned activity for yourself and for someone important in your life. It could even be done simultaneously at distant locations. The resulting document (and whatever audio or visual enhancements you add to it) will be treasured by those you love. And the activity itself will help you to consider and then articulate your personal purpose in life.

This is a project that I am going to schedule for this upcoming Sunday, 22 February 2009 – the afternoon before the Academy Awards. Since I don’t have an award nomination this year, and won’t be in need of an acceptance speech, this exercise will be a suitable alternative.

What about you? Could you put into writing what it is that you believe? Will you do it? Don’t miss the deadline. Everyone has one.

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