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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Dorothy Thomas is a writer. She was born in Philadelphia, where she made her social debut, but she left to become a volunteer worker in a mission in Virginia. She has lived in the mountains of Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina, and has written many stories of the mountain people. She has also been a columnist, feature writer and public relations woman. Here now are the beliefs of Miss Dorothy Thomas.
I believe you should enjoy life whether you like it or not. Life not enjoyed is wasted. After frustrations, despair, after each blow to the heart, I find myself springing up from the ashes in a kind of angry defiance, crying, “Look here, this is enough. It’s time you enjoyed life again.”
The dreams of most and the hard facts of our lives are poles apart, and we spend our lives trying to bring the two into focus. It is this struggle—in which, undeniably, some are better equipped, more skillful, or luckier than others—that gives impetus to living. But if this struggle blinds us to the pleasures inherent in daily life, if it robs us of the ability to enjoy the passing scene, then earning a living or achieving success has plucked our daily living bare.
We all know so-called successes who lead miserable, unhappy personal lives because they do not know how to live. On the other hand, there are those whose lives lack the outward trappings of success but whose personal relationships are so right, whose inner resources so deep, who know how so well how to taste and savor the multicolored aspects of life, that they must be counted artists at living.
Each of us has a pattern of certain physical environmental needs in which we function best. One must be able to live without daily friction and so be released for the small, good enjoyments that lie all around us. One must do one’s duty, meet one’s obligations.
But these essentials behind us, what are the requirements for enjoying life? Perhaps most of all, one needs curiosity, an awareness of life, a sense of wonder, a child-like need to know. There are innumerable delights which, if we were really alive to them, would do much to compensate for our disappointment in the main issue of our lives, or embellish a life that has more nearly fulfilled itself.
There is silver rain, the sound of wind in the trees, the smell of linden blossoms or fresh baked bread. There are clouds and bright skies. There is sunshine to touch you like a friend. There is a joy of walking on a hard, flat beach, with a white-fringed ocean lapping at your feet.
There are flowers, music, the world of art, the eager faces of children. There is a joyful crackling of a fire on a hearth, the pungent smell of woods after rain, the taste of strawberries warm with the sun. There is candlelight and good talk. There are dresses and hats, sherry and tea, and the safe escape of work. There are books to transport and enchant, to help chart life, to point the way. On soul-shriveling nights when thoughts hang like bats on the mind, there are books that save one’s sanity, that lift the sin of sadness from one’s soul.
It seems ungrateful not to respond to sunshine and sky and the very air about us, rude to God or whatever powers that be. I feel embarrassed, ashamed, apologetic when I wallow too long in the slough of despond. I have a deep if an inexplicable conviction that somehow it is wicked to be long unhappy. This I believe. I believe it in my bones. And I hope life will never beat it out of me.
There the beliefs of Dorothy Thomas, freelance writer of Ridgewood, New Jersey.