this I believe

This I Believe Rhode Island: Normalcy

Jan 12, 2016

All of us have grown weary of the steady diet of dreadful news that saturates radio and television broadcasts, newspaper headlines, and social media alerts: terrorist bombings, mass shootings, gang violence, urban riots.  The list seems painfully unending.  Yet most of us somehow march through our days with a remarkable sense of normalcy and nonchalance, albeit perhaps with at least a hum of anxiety about when the next shoe will drop.  For many, making sense of this stark juxtaposition – the ever-present awareness of international and national horror that sits alongside our relatively prosaic lives – poses an existential challenge, which is certainly the case for Noel Rubinton.

Noel Rubinton, a Brown University graduate, is a Providence-based writer and communications consultant.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Milestones

Jan 5, 2016

As we march through life, most of us develop deeper, richer, and more nuanced insights about what this journey means.  Isn’t it true that, under the best of circumstances, aging brings wisdom, some of which requires that significant portions of our lives are in the rearview mirror?  The poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Instructions for living a life.  Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”  Lifelong Rhode Islander, Jack Partridge, tells us about it.
 

Jack Partridge, a Providence College and Harvard Law School graduate, has lived in Rhode Island for nearly all of his 75 years.  He is an attorney with the Providence law firm, Partridge, Snow and Hahn.  

This I Believe Rhode Island: Stories

Dec 29, 2015

Every one of us has a story - make that lots of stories - that define who we are. There are those life-altering events during childhood, perhaps our first love or our first heartbreak, or the stories that come out of our adult lives that are so very complex. Some of us are eager to share our stories with anyone who will listen, but as Bill Harley reflects in this encore essay, others of us are much more quiet about the stories that shape our lives.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Afterlife

Dec 23, 2015

  In Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, Emily Webb dies while giving birth and, in the afterlife, gazes upon the earth and utters her compelling and poignant lines: "Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you.  Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? — every, every minute?"   Many of us struggle with the concept of the afterlife.  Will I go to heaven if I live a morally virtuous life?  After I die, will I be able to connect with the people I love?  Is there really a heaven, or is it simply a figment of my imagination?  John Walsh reflects on these enduring existential questions.

John Walsh is a partner in the East Greenwich-based communications firm, Walsh & Associates.  He writes a monthly Op-Ed column for the Providence Journal, which published an earlier version of this essay.  Walsh also shares observations at johnwalshcopy.com

This I Believe Rhode Island: Accepting Invitations

Dec 15, 2015

  It’s no secret that growing older can be an ambidextrous experience.  On one hand, aging can be filled with a joyful mix of satisfying moments, astute insights, and exciting new challenges.  And, on that other hand, for many there are the daunting physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that can burden us during the so-called golden years, which for some aren’t so golden.  

This I Believe Rhode Island: Walden

Dec 8, 2015

  The prolific writings and musings of Henry David Thoreau – the nineteenth-century author, poet, philosopher, and naturalist – cast a very long shadow that reaches deep into our own contemporary lives.  For many of us, Thoreau’s profound reflections, stunning twists of phrase, and keen insights help us make some sense of this remarkably complicated world.  And they have certainly shaped the life of lifelong Rhode Islander Mike Fink.

Mike Fink is an English professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has produced columns in a wide range of local and national magazines and earned the Providence Journal's Metcalf Award and the National Conference for Community Justice Award, as well as the Never Again Award for journalism.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Metaphor

Dec 1, 2015

  Most of us have found that metaphors help us make sense of our complicated world, pushing us to view life’s complexities through alternate lenses and images.  Metaphors are the creative tools of writers, artists, and therapists.  The renowned author and anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson once said, “there are few things as toxic as a bad metaphor.  You can’t think without metaphors.”  Lindsay Aromin surely has made good use of metaphors in her life.

Lindsay Aromin is an English teacher at North Smithfield High School, where each year her ninth grade students write their own “This I Believe” essays.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Miracles

Nov 24, 2015

  The nineteenth century novelist Joseph Conrad once wrote, “My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel--it is, before all, to make you see.”  And that is exactly what this NPR series aims to do.  Featured essayists stitch together words that let you peek inside their core beliefs, their struggles to understand their world, their insights about what matters most in life.  Sometimes these words are expressed in prose, sometimes in poetry.  And as Rhode Island's outgoing state poet Rick Benjamin notes, sometimes we enjoy both poetry and prose.

Rick Benjamin has served as the state poet of Rhode Island since 2013.  He will be departing shortly for a new position in California.

  It’s no secret that many people struggle in life: job-related problems, relationship challenges, mental health issues, financial uncertainty.  The list goes on and on.  Yet, some people are remarkably resilient in the face of chronic adversity.  Against daunting odds, they manage to flourish amidst nearly overwhelming challenges.  In Paradise Lost, John Milton wrote, “Even the demons are encouraged when their chief is ‘not lost in loss itself.”  Noah Kilroy has much to say about coping with adversity and despair and, ultimately, rising from the proverbial ashes. 

Noah Kilroy is an attorney practicing in Providence.  He is a graduate of Salve Regina University and Roger Williams University Law School.

  You know those middle-of-the-night or early-morning awakenings when your senses are unusually sharp? The slightest sounds take on new meaning, or perhaps otherwise fleeting thoughts become intrusive. Solitude and silence, although sometimes disquieting, seem to invite deep reflection and unusually intense awareness. As Henry David Thoreau says in Walden, “I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.”  And we hear echoes of these sentiments from Erik Wilker.

Erik Wilker is an administrator at Moses Brown School in Providence, where he was asked to contribute a "This I Believe" essay to a student-led project.  He and his family moved to Rhode Island eleven years ago after having lived in the West.

  The renowned seventeenth-century British poet John Milton began to lose his sight in his early 30's. Milton opened his poem entitled On Blindness with these words: "When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days in this dark world . . . ." Milton spent considerable time reflecting on his blindness and also wrote these poignant words: "To be blind is not miserable; not to be able to bear blindness, that is miserable." Nancy Jasper shares her own poetic reflections on this remarkable challenge.

Nancy Jasper is a clinical social worker at Child and Family, a comprehensive social service agency in Middletown.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Gratitude

Oct 27, 2015

  We all know that life can overwhelm us at times, but it sure is nice when we can take a step back and feel grateful, truly appreciating what's good and rich in our lives.  The ancient Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero put it succinctly:  "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others."  If we're really fortunate, we find times in our lives when we're able to stop and truly embrace profound moments and encounters that come our way, as we hear from Daren Girard.

 

Daren Girard is an emergency physician at Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, where he also serves as the Medical Director of Emergency Services.  Girard, his wife, and two children, Sophie and Teddy, live in North Kingstown.

  One of the advantages of aging is that we have the opportunity to gain perspective.  The passage of time, the ability to gaze at our life’s journey through the rearview mirror, often enables us to cultivate a sense of priorities, to truly appreciate life’s precious, often fleeting, moments.  And, sometimes, what seems relatively mundane in our lives can be a great teacher.  Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.”  That’s what we hear from John Walsh.

John Walsh is a partner in the East Greenwich-based communications firm, Walsh & Associates. He writes a monthly Op-Ed column for the Providence Journal, which published an earlier version of this essay.  Walsh shares essays and observations at johnwalshcopy.com.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Fall Apples

Oct 13, 2015

  One of the joys of living in Rhode Island and New England is that we get to experience the poignant changes in the seasons, the shift from summer's sweetness to the bucolic fall, and from winter's chill to spring's bountiful beauty. Of course, seasonal changes aren’t always so pleasant or welcome.  As Henri Flikier notes, shifting seasons - in New England and in our own lives - are filled with complexity and challenge.

Henri Flikier is a clinical social worker in Providence.  He grew up in Paris, France and moved to New York City as a teenager. Flikier resides with his family in East Bay.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Reason to Hope

Oct 7, 2015

  There are times when despair seems to saturate our lives.  The sudden death of a loved one, which is followed by the loss of a job on the same day as the ominous cancer diagnosis, which happened a mere three weeks after receiving the foreclosure notice on one’s house.  You get the idea.  All of us have bad days now and then, but for some there are those bad weeks, or months, or even years.  In the midst of it all, it sure can be hard to find reason to hope, but hope we must.  And that’s what we hear from Doreen Conca Engel.

Doreen Conca Engel serves as a Guidance Counselor and the Director of the Benilde Program at St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket.

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