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Life's little lessons

In the 1950s, National Public Radio broadcast a program hosted by Edward R. Murrow called This I Believe. The radio show featured a series of essays in which individuals from various backgrounds illuminated their core beliefs. Inspired by the concept and in that vein, I have searched my own heart and gutted through my own mire, to uncover what focuses my life, what centers my being; that one thing that governs my interactions with and interpretations of the world.

Even though I believe simplicity trumps complexity, I tend to over-think stuff. I believe in humanity; that we are each born innately good. I believe in the important things, like the value of education and the covenant of marriage.

I believe I always have a choice, even when I think I don't.

I believe that lipstick is key to taking on the day and that a front porch is the perfect place to end it.

I believe in the power of words; that the right ones can inspire a child to achieve greater things than if left to his own self-evaluation, and that the wrong words can kill a man's soul quicker than a dagger to the heart kills his body.

I believe in humor, that it breaks down walls and draws people together. I believe in kind deeds done anonymously. I believe in friendship.

I believe I still have a lot to learn and that some people will hold that against me and some people will forgive me for my ignorance. Either way, I will be okay.

I believe I need not know my purpose in order to fulfill it.

More than all of these things, however, I believe in uncertainty. It, above all, makes life a journey and not just an existence. Uncertainty drives me. Uncertainty makes me get up every morning and do my best each day; not because I know that doing my best will bring reward, but because I never know for sure if my best will be good enough.

When I was pregnant with each of my children, I refused many of the recommended prenatal tests. My doctor expressed concern over my objections and urged me to reconsider, but I said, "No." She implored me why.

I rejected the tests because certainty would have stripped the joy from the nine months in which I was closer to each child than I will ever be again. I declined because I felt the knowing had no purpose. There's no hope in certainty.

While I believe in uncertainty, I don't necessarily always enjoy it or embrace it. Like anybody, I want to know what will happen next. I yearn for affirmation ahead of time that I'm making the right decisions, that all things will work out; more than that, how things will work out.

My children are older now, every day developing their own identities. When raising kids, as with most responsibilities and relationships, the unexpected lurks in every shadow, behind every door, just beyond each moment. And I linger in a steady state of vigil, balancing the urge to control their futures with the need to allow them to experience their futures unfolding. What a thrill to dwell in the constant crux of discovery.

I know they watch me to see how I cope with the unknowns of life. I hope they are learning that without uncertainty, there is no personal risk or human will, no quickening of the heart, no adrenalin surge. Uncertainty leads me down many paths I would not choose -- bumpy back roads, weedy waysides, and curvy corridors -- but which I am better for traveling.

This I believe.

(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist and the author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson. E-mail her at and visit her web site,

Web posted on Thursday, April 01, 2010

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