---"What If" stories
---"This I Believe" testimonials
WHAT IF . . . FIRE is a living entity? Glaring evidence of its life from birth to death is often overlooked even by learned scholars, visionary scientists, and insightful gurus. Fire is enslaved as a convenient tool with caution that it becomes a dangerous chemical change if it gets out of hand. Resistant to belief in a life so heatedly different from our own, we are blinked to the possibility that fire is a substantive being. Acceptance of fire as a living, breathing spirit invites thoughtful respect for fellow inhabitants of our planet.

Fire possesses the key features of life. Dormant until the right circumstances arise, when vital elements come together- heat, fuel, and oxygen- fire is born anew. It breathes oxygen. It consumes food in the form of whatever sustenance lies in its path. It excretes the charred remains of its meal. So long as it can access the three nurturing ingredients, fire goes forth to reproduce and multiple at a remarkable rate. Its metabolism is incredibly high by human standards. It emits alarming heat as it devours its host with veracious zeal. Its life continues so long as there is an endless supply of resources. Like any ravenous lifestyle, its gluttony is inevitably self-defeating. Eating its host or sucking up all available air, eventually it burns itself out.

Although fire may not be sentient in any of the sensory manners enjoyed by humankind, it does have features that suggest a presence. Gazing spellbound into its flickering aura, perhaps we enter into some primitive form of communication with the flames, an ancient dialogue at a subconscious level, long forgotten or not yet understood. Fire dances in flaming glory. It peers at the world through glowing embers until, for lack of nourishment, ashes to ashes it dies.

In our burning desire to understand life's meaning, let us honor fire. The energy that fire emits, we use to warm our hands, toast our marshmallows, heat our households, boil our water, and bake our daily bread. May we value its warmth, not selfishly for what we gain from the relationship, but for fire's intrinsic worth as well. May appreciation for the life of fire spread beyond the confines of what we know to all the world. May reverence be unwavering for every imaginable wonder, and more.

Maybe fireants are spicy food for anteaters, like Mexican food is for people. And when they eat the ants maybe they exclaim, "Ay, caramba!" and "Ay, chiguaja!"

What if ALL species think themselves superior to every other species.

Perhaps pigeons regard people with aloof distain for our sorrowful existence.

Maybe caterpillars pity us for our seemingly meaningless struggles.

And ants think we're big, awkward oafs, clumsily stomping their precious kin.

Sharpening the hatchet

What if each gossamer line of red at a turkey's throat
revealed the story of time, beginning to end?
American bagua
Barnyard tarot, fleshy revelations spilling beneath
sharp beaks, the labial gates of life
or an unending disembowelment in crimson flesh.

The humble cock has his comb, the dog
jowls, humans have ascots and hubris
while the turkey stands large with his
omnipotent waddle
guarding his secrets as he wardens his hens.

Are there gods, young bird?
Zeus, Demeter, and Ra molding
your flesh with their fingers, laughing
at our clumsy ignorance, the way
we brutishly bump about, slice
through their words in your throat
and call it Thanksgiving,

spread silly legends of your brothers drowning
in the rain. "Too stupid," we say,
"To stop watching the sky"
when it's falling, your gelatin eyes
staring up at Persephone in summer,
Anubis, and Orpheo. While we choke
out vulgar laughter, a million years
transpire between you.

What if 100

Imagine how much easier life would be if all numerical systems were based on 100, like the U.S. dollar and the metric system.

A full circle would be 100o, not 360 o. Right angels would be a neat 25o and diameters would be 50 o.

Clocks could have 100 minutes in an hour. Sixty minute hours are based on an arbitrary number that makes no sense. "Half past" would be a neat 50 minutes after the hour.

A 10 hour day would simplify matters. And, in my life since a new day begins at dawn, I’d like clocks began each day at dawn. Dawn varies no more or less than high noon and it would break the days into a more orderly fashion. The time now designated as 5:01 am, approximately dawn, would become 00:01 am. Nighttime would no longer needlessly staggers 2 days. The “wee hours” of the night would become the highest numbers on the clock. No sense in clocks going around twice in one day either. The 10 hour day would be like “military time” but with 10 hours, not 24. That would allow more flexibility of schedule since we would have more time before being declared “late.”

Months are logically based on lunar phases, but why 12 months to a year? A ten month year would work fine. And, while we are at it, why not begin each year on the first day of Spring. That way, winters would not always stagger two years. Does “Winter 2000” refer to the Winter at the dawn of the millennium or the one just before 2001 began? As calendar years stand now, the correct answer is both.

|||"THIS I BELIEVE" Testimonials

One page essays of deeply held convictions modeled after the new NPR & old Edward R. Murrow radio shows by the same name.

    Despite the ugliness of death and the unknown of where it leads, death is not final. In the end, our cling to life weakens as calamity, agony, wailing and gnashing of teeth force us to let go. Survivors are left with the grim awareness that the body of someone once known and loved now decays. What it is like to be dead appears horrific.

    But what looks like a black hole from this side, may be a white hole in disguise. Death, it seems, is a passageway for all that is good. There is some degree of goodness in every person, every animal, plant, and object even if we cannot recognize it in them. That virtuous, loving essence remains intact when we die. God is literally love, so the “image of God within” remains vital even upon our death. All loving spirits are reunified.

    My belief in a loving afterlife is not false hope based on groundless expectation; it is well grounded in my experience. As a paramedic, I spoke with people I had helped to resuscitate and I read about others. There are many people with out-of-body recollections of transcendence. Since the stories are unverifiable, they could just be pigeon-holed into the psychology term “dissociative depersonalization,” a sense of detachment as if observing oneself from outside. But I cannot dismiss the phenomenon as mere dreams or brain short-circuits because I can relate out-of-body accounts to my own experience.

    Although I have no personal near-death stories, twice I had what seem to have been out-of-body episodes. Both situations were intense adventures. One occurred while I anxiously gave an oral report in high school and the other was during deep concentration on a new mathematical concept. In the first situation, I found myself hovering just outside the classroom window two stories up, watching my fidgety classmates’ profiles as they waited for me to resume the report, my blank-faced form standing speechless before them. The second time, when the key to understanding the math equation took hold, I happened to be floating over the Dairy Queen rooftop two towns away. If not for the recurrent memory of that odd viewpoint whenever I do certain calculations, I probably would have forgotten the second experience. Perhaps there were other incidents that I did forget.

    So it seems that our spirits can exist without their anatomical containers. The body and soul can separate. Apparently, death is final only to the corpse and not the spirit with its capacity to wander. Out-of-body experiences give me assurance that once we die, we become reunited with those we love. Whether true or not, it is only possible to know when our time comes. But what I believe is that our human flaws and frailties are the only things that disintegrate. The good stuff gets recycled. Our loving natures transcend in a great reunification.

    "THIS I BELIEVE" by Robert Larson

    "I need somebody." Our three-year-old son David’s words barely penetrated the chatter of our beach party. "I neeeed somebody," he cried again, much louder this time so that we all looked over in alarm to see what had happened. Sobbing, David pointed at the bonfire, where I saw his trousers lying, one pant leg already burned. Earlier, David had gotten them wet playing tag with the surf, so we had taken them off him and stuck a pole in the woodpile, one end of which could hold the trousers over the fire to dry. Attempting to climb the stack of firewood, David had jiggled his pants loose and they had fallen into the flames. There was nothing that could be done for them now. All I could do was put my arm around my son and hug. He stopped crying and we watched in fascination as the trousers disappeared in smoke.

    Thinking about this later, I realized that much of life occurs the way it did that night on the beach. Most often there is nothing we can do about the thrills and tragedies, big or small, that accompany life. But when they happen, a little compassion can make a huge difference. This is my belief: We are here to love each other. When that happens, it is the closest thing to heaven we can create on Earth.

    "THIS I BELIEVE" by Rosemary Baker

    My belief is a crystallization of thoughts which have come, usually unbidden, through the years. To submit them to paper on a fully conscious level is a challenge.

    The current Intelligent Design ideology sounds in some ways like my own conclusion. Creationism seems to be a simplistic way to explain the inexplicable produced by a people to ease their feelings of helplessness. But it is not totally without merit. Evolution through time, with occasional sudden lurches forward seems to me to be an aspect of the same process. Contemplating existence from either position must surely generate an awed appreciation. What is astonishing to me is the stance of militant people who demand exclusivity. Why the big ruckus?! I choose to believe that there is an unknowable pattern to existence, with randomness as part of the pattern.

    I discovered in my childhood the thought process of “causation.” Through the years I have pondered this with pleasure. An endless chain of events-linked-back-to-events is wonderful to consider, and hopefully to realize the responsibility that entails. This all points to an "Originating Intelligence."

    I'm not sure that I merit any individual consideration, which many find comforting, and that's okay. I'm content to merge my chemistry back into the permanence of matter. Wishfully, I'd choose to revisit those persons who have preceded me into the great mystery of death. And I do believe some spark of identity remains, although in what form is questionable.

    In this potpourri of energetic matter, should an Avatar be produced, surely this being would have a form acceptable to those for whom the message is intended. Humankind, with horrendous battles between factions, has produced varied, but similar explanations of the forces governing their world- and ultimately their Cosmos. How amazing that people cannot accept that in crediting an entity with this marvelous existence, it is possible to address such entity without doing battle over what to call this Intelligence. If Heaven/ Valhalla/ Nirvana or some such repository exists, I cannot visualize the extremists who destroy in the name of their belief, being given easy entry to such a place. I see them as being pushed "to the back of the line," behind their multitude of victims.

    Lastly, I am compelled to believe that this sadly flawed human race will somehow develop into a better, higher form.

    "THIS I BELIEVE" by Shari Lewis

    LIFE glows from the inside out.

    The best gifts I give the world are my children.

    The best gifts I've received form the Universe, are my children.

    Grace is bird songs and whispering trees, a soft bed when I'm pooped, friends to play and cry with, my furry babies, and Jesus' love, there all the time.

    I am becoming the Me I've aspired to be . . . slowleee.

    This I Believe: Owning The Seeds by Rusty (Barbara) Gasparian

    I nestle into the sands,
    I snuggle into the crystal white grains of earth
    and I am aware of existence.

    Like the seagulls facing into the wind
    the eyes and spirits of me are still,
    resting, watching.

    I am joyful child,
    I am nurturing mother,
    I am restless adolescence -
    a rebel without a cause.
    A melancholy that traveled
    in my heart and bones
    these past days and has left me.

    I am stronger, wiser, content and grateful
    for having owned the seeds
    of my childhood and I am free.
    I believe in healing.

    I become one with the sea.
    I am mother being sung a lullaby
    by the child of her womb.
    I am child cradled and rocked
    by father, by mother, by Earth and by Spirit.

    I am generations before me
    and I am all yet to be.
    I am life.
    I am love.
    I am faith and truth.
    I believe.

    This I Believe and Not

    by Caroling Geary

    I believe it is good to open up channels of self-expression for others. In other words, thanks for asking! I hold beliefs in awe and don't look at them right on. I'm grateful for their presence and allow them to dissolve when engulfed by greater or seemingly contrary truths. I dare not speak of them, try to define, or pin them down in any way lest their mystic presence be offended. Beliefs must be free. Beliefs crop up, appearing along the path like friendly hugs, guides, and crutches. If I become one with Whole-O awareness, beliefs do not feel my need, or respond to any unuttered call, because consciousness knows.

    This I believe - William Penrose Campbell, III

    I believe as I age, and contrary to the popular shibboleth, I'm becoming more liberal. In my sixth decade, I now see not only an opportunity but an obligation to help the less fortunate.

    I see a similar mandate for the care of this planet. It's in a lot worse shape now than it was when I arrived on it in 1939. And I see precious few arguments from the libertarian or conservative side to rectify its health.

    This I not only believe, but act upon to the best of my moral and financial abilities.

    This I Believe by Veronica Noechel

    That I, human, am not the end of evolution. That other animals are equally intelligent and feeling, we just have different priorities.

    That when I take a moment to drop my hubris and conceit, I find that the species who surround me have an awful lot to say.

    That when I open my mind, I find that I am ignoring some of my closest opportunities for friendship.

    That I may touch hearts with a rat, a possum, or a chicken.

    This I believe: Lynn Krebs

    There are things in this life that I have no control over. Investing my time and energy in these areas gives me nothing in return. Well, that's not exactly true, the return on investing in the things I have no control over gives me worry, apprehension and confusion. I believe in the God of the Bible, that there is a plan that is bigger than me and I fit into that plan. My life touches yours and makes a difference somehow. The luxury of knowing and understanding "Why?"" could consume me, but I choose to focus on those things that I do have control over. I choose how I behave in all circumstances; I choose how and with whom I spend my time. Our friendship is a choice that we agree on. I'm so thankful for you.

    This I believe . . . Joan Botto

    That whatever it is I believe today,

    I'll discover is subject to change tomorrow!

    Here's yet another "This I believe"

    No matter what I say, it is my actions that will define me.

    No matter how much I try to control my destiny through my actions, it is the unexpected that will form me.

    My form comes from the ebb and flow of movements around and within me.

    People sometimes call the movements God. Or fate.

    Or consciousness.

    People sometimes call the movements luck. Or karma.

    Or temptation.

    No matter, the movement does not require a name. When I become the movement, the movement will use my name.