this I believe

This I Believe Rhode Island: Chasing Rainbows

Jul 14, 2015

  Many of us moved into adulthood imagining some sort of clear forecast and life plan.  Of course, what many of us discovered along the way is that our journeys rarely unfold in as linear a fashion as we first imagined.  Life is full of unanticipated detours, occasional roadblocks, and, we hope, wondrous surprises and good fortune.  For some, it takes decades of living to appreciate this reality.  And then some of us figure it out rather early in life, as with 14-year-old Jacqueline Faulise.

Jacqueline Faulise recently completed the 7th grade at the Gordon School in East Providence.  She lives with her family in Wickford, Rhode Island.

Life is full of contradictions and inconsistencies, especially in those moments when we yearn for clarity. As the author Scott Turow noted about our efforts to grapple with uncertainty in the stories of our lives, "The purpose of narrative is to present us with complexity and ambiguity."  Issues that appear, at first glance, to be in sharp black and white relief quickly drift into shades of gray. That's what Beth Taylor reflects on with regard to distressingly ambiguous matters of war and peace.

Beth Taylor teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program in Brown University's English Department. She lives in Providence.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Signs

Jun 30, 2015

Many years ago my wife and I took a late afternoon hike in a nearby forest. We sauntered through the dense woods with our then-infant daughter nestled in the pack on my back.  We lost track of time and suddenly noticed that the sun was setting far earlier than we expected.  We were out of infant formula.  Despite our usually reliable sense of direction, we discovered we were truly lost in the forest.  Eventually we found our way out, but not without a sense of panic.  What a metaphor that experience became, teaching me about the profound importance of subtle signs in life’s proverbial forest, instincts shared by John Minahan.

John Minahan teaches English and Psychology at the Lincoln School in Providence.  Minahan is a former professional musician and college instructor who lives in Providence.  

This I Believe Rhode Island: Bluebirds

Jun 23, 2015

Who among us didn’t feel challenged by this past winter’s relentless weather assaults?  The remarkably steady diet of ominous forecasts and their as-advertised aftermath is reminiscent of those chapters in our lives when there’s that steady drip of really bad news, or at least disquieting news.  But haven’t we learned that amidst a steady stream of daunting storms in our lives, often there are remarkably hopeful signs?  That’s what we hear from Lori Ayotte.

Lori Ayotte teaches World Literature and Creative Writing at Sharon High School in Massachusetts. She lives in Cumberland, Rhode Island.

  Some years ago, Sissela Bok, a moral philosopher, wrote a book entitled Lying in which she explores the ways in which people struggle to be truthful in their private and public lives, especially in circumstances that tempt us to lie or, at the very least, shade the truth -- sometimes for self-serving purposes and sometimes for what appear to be more magnanimous goals.  For many, truth telling is a lifelong challenge.  And as we hear from a very wise 13-year-old, Bea Hruska, our lifelong instincts are often sown in childhood.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Neighbors

Jun 9, 2015

Community.  It's such a simple word, and it's bandied about so casually that it seems almost trite.  Yet for many Rhode Islanders, a deep sense of community is what keeps us rooted in the Ocean State, not only in our connections to Westerly and Warren, Cumberland and Cranston, but in our own unique neighborhood, to our friends at church or synagogue, and to the people we expect to bump into at the diner down the street.  In this encore essay, theater director Curt Columbus tells us what community in his corner of Rhode Island means to him.

 

Curt Columbus takes walks near his home in Pawtucket and is artistic director of the Trinity Repertory Company.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Homesick

Jun 2, 2015

Maturation is a wonderful thing – if and when it happens, of course.  If we’re really fortunate, throughout our lives we have the wherewithal to learn from our mistaken assumptions and correct course. H. G. Wells once famously wrote, “There's truths you have to grow into.”  For some of us, it takes decades to grow into these truths.  But sometimes even an adolescent has the ability to face life’s hard truths, as with twelve-year-old Anika Istok.

Anika Istok is completing the seventh grade at the Gordon School in East Providence.  She lives with her family in Cranston.

This I Believe Rhode Island: When It Falls Apart

May 19, 2015

Human foibles and failure.  We’ve all had our share during the course of our lives, to varying degrees.  Some disappointments and blunders are inevitable; what matters most is how we cope with and learn from them.  The Irish novelist James Joyce  famously wrote, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” Thirteen-year-old Sophie Grosswendt talks about how she’s learned to cope with failure.
 

   

Sophie Grosswendt is in the seventh grade at the Gordon School in East Providence.  She lives with her family in  Cranston.

Have you ever encountered moments in life when you weren't sure you had the wherewithal to climb out of bed and face another day?  Moments when you saw no light whatsoever at the end of your tunnel, when you wanted to, well, just give up and end it all?  Sadly, many people have just such moments.  The most fortunate are able to climb out of the dark abyss.  And, as we know, some are not.  We hear from David Blistein, who has written a powerful memoir about his own struggles with mental illness.

David Blistein grew up in Providence and, he reports, learned to write from his father, who was on the Brown University faculty for many years.  Blistein is a graduate of Amherst College and now lives in southern Vermont.  Blistein's books explore history, spirituality, nature, and psychology.  His most recent work is David's Inferno: My Journey through the Dark Woods of Depression.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Saying Goodbye

Apr 28, 2015

Death.  We know it's coming at some point, and we know it's filled with mystery and, perhaps, some anxiety.  Death is especially difficult when we lose someone we hold near to our hearts.  And when it happens, each of us deals with mortality in whatever way makes sense to us at the time – sometimes with deep anguish, and sometimes with a quiet resolve, equanimity, and acceptance.  Fourteen-year-old Jillian Lombardi talks about her way of coping with the death of someone who was dear to her.

Jillian Lombardi is in the eighth grade at the Moses Brown School in Providence.  She lives with her family in Barrington.

Family mementos and memories.  For many of us they’re vitally important – and full of vitality, keeping loved ones near to our hearts, especially once they’re no longer with us.  Precious trinkets, heirlooms, one-of-a-kind photographs, this is the stuff that binds us to the people we care about. The novelist Saul Bellow once wrote, “Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door.”  And as we hear from Reed Caster in this encore essay, profound connections are sometimes forged from the most modest inheritances.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Seasons

Apr 15, 2015

No doubt you have noticed how our lives ebb and flow, much like the seasons.  Both literally and figuratively we get to experience the wonder of stunningly beautiful spring days and the bitter assault delivered by the occasional winter blizzard.  Such is life.  Indeed, seasons seem to be able to teach us so much about coping with life's inevitable ups and downs, including its bittersweet moments.  Consider the quote penned by the French Nobel existentialist Albert Camus: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."  These are the sentiments echo

This I Believe Rhode Island: Empathy

Apr 7, 2015

Empathy – real empathy – is a mysterious phenomenon.  It’s reasonable to ask whether we have the capacity to truly tune into other people’s experiences, particularly when they’re traumatic.  Perhaps we get closest to real empathy when we’re able to draw on our own compelling experiences that somehow approximate those of the people we care about most.  It may not be a perfect fit, but it may be as close as we can get.  And that’s what we hear from B. J. Rich.

B.J. Rich is a nurse clinician and educator. She recently visited England to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Kindertransport and connect with the renowned Attenborough family, who had taken in her mother during World War II.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Still Winter

Mar 31, 2015

Nature can teach us so much about our world, about its glory and its anguish.  In nature we find so many lessons about hardiness, resilience, triumph and, yes, destruction and death.  The British poet William Wordsworth captured this sentiment in one line of his profound 18th-century poem entitled The Tables Turned: “Come forth into the light of things, let Nature be your teacher.”  And that’s what we hear from Meghan Elizabeth Kallman.
 

Meghan Elizabeth Kallman is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Brown University. She is a musician, a climate activist, co-founder of the Prison Op/Ed Project, and teaches at the Rhode Island state prison.

Imagine what it must be like to live your life as a world renowned cardiologist, a celebrated medical scholar, and an international spokesperson for physicians concerned about the daunting implications of nuclear weapons. Life is chock full of meaning, purpose, and never-ending challenge. Now imagine what it must be like to shift both speed and gears abruptly as you cope with the unexpected news that you must now be a patient - a patient who has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and dementia. Indeed, this was the life course for the late Dr. Tom Graboys until his recent death.  In this encore essay, Dr. Graboys reflects on his deeply personal and poignant journey, and his inspiring determination to live his life to the fullest.

 

Dr. Thomas Graboys died on January 5, 2015.  He was Clinical Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School; President Emeritus of the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation; and former attending cardiologist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Lown Cardiovascular Center. Dr. Graboys, who grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, became a patient himself after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and dementia. He published a book about his personal battle, Life in the Balance: A Physician's Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson's Disease and Dementia.

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