This I Believe: Judy Olin (1967-68)

What a strange thing it is to capsulate in some manner just what it is that I believe.  Not only has it become my nature to shy away from any predigested capsulated version of most anything.  The fact of the matter is there really is nothing literally absolute contained within my own personal religion or philosophy, unless it would be my conviction that within the scope of philosophy and religion, absolutes and literal definitions are out of place and destructive by nature.  To me, such things imply rigid and unchanging boundaries in which a creative process is supposed to take place and yet no room has been allowed for growth.  I believe that the better part of one’s religion is finely integrated in their personality to enrich the quality of their experience and eminently reflected in their way of life.  This to me, is what makes religion meaningful…that necessary ingredient which helps me to live in harmony with the rest of the world and necessarily depends upon my own particular ability to free myself of these narrow or negative dispositions within me, allowing myself to listen, to feel, to interpret as creatively as possible and to then compose that framework in which I can move and experience life in a meaningful way.

I’m an idealist, I guess, and have a tendency toward wanting to treat even the most serious subjects imaginatively.  I would even go so far as to say that my ideals oftentimes seem grounded in the beauty of the absurd; or the wonder and excitement I experience when I’m able to discover another paradox within this many colored world.  While striving to be an idealist, my ideals are not easily met.  Typically housewifely days too easily become typical.  The business of living too often becomes a business in and of itself and tends dangerously to dull my senses to all that is truly alive within myself and others.  There are also these commitments and obligations one naturally assumes through others.  There are also friends, which add to the complexity of an already complex multi-structured society.  While I don’t believe the structure of society is responsible for making it more difficult to experience life more intensely, I will say that for me it requires the disciplined responsibility which I must assume if I want to live life more fully – that of constantly evaluating how my time and energy must be spent.

To continue with my impressions from the viewpoint of housewife and mother, there’s a poem I’d written a while back which expresses more explicitly perhaps (to be sure, more dramatically and emotionally), my dilemma; and the sadness that comes when I feel a certain kind of separateness, which inevitably seems to exist between parent and child.


The days slip by,

I slip more.

Fairly unaware,

a score and more.

What of life,

this practice of it

while it’s lost.

The unheard tick of the clock

as it marks, maims, or makes.

Oh, God but I wish

to know what it takes

to awake, to be free, to feel again

as the child each day

takes the right to fend

for the joy, for the fight,

for the run, to explore.

For the snow, for the sight,

for the open door.

Welcome for fun, for delight, before

the darkening still of the night

when comfort sets in to cover them all,

forgetting the trail of slush in the hall.


Still, the pattern is set.

We hover above

the cast being set.

The dye wins all,

succeeding to fit

the puzzles of time,

capsulated versions, so neat, so fine.


The child still questions,

“But what of the snow?”

Oh, it’s pretty, it’s white

and really quite fine.

But just an illusion, you’ll find in time.

Invisible enemies lurking there.


Wash your face, comb your hair.

We’ve appearances to keep,

we mustn’t be late.  SILENCE,

small children, We’ve mapped out your fate.”


The measure of time and their weights

soon tell, “Quit looking for heaven,

and join them in hell.”


To get back to my previous statement that my beliefs oftentimes seem grounded in the beauty of the absurd, or the intrinsic truth I oftentimes feel while relating what seems to be opposite or conflicting points of view, I continue:

I believe that the uncomplicated, uncluttered life is conducive toward better living.  Yet most situations and given precepts hold for me untold possibilities of good and evil, pleasure or pain.  What seems to be perhaps, is not.  And the merry-go-round begins again.  It’s no wonder that I must mainly find comfort within the possibility of truth and beauty in all things.

I believe that imagined fears, battles, and conquests dissolve into peace through the realization of beauty in all things.  Yet I believe it is possible to transfigure all things into consummate ugliness through distorted perspective or lack of insight.

I believe in the basic goodness of people while realizing the importance of not being fickle with those in whom I confide and place my trust.

I believe that faith can be a creatively dynamic force, yet within its contents lie the seeds of disillusionment.

I believe that all men should strive for freedom, yet feel that not even one man can or will succeed.

I believe that some of the most religious experiences I have enjoyed within the realm of nature’s beauty, yet how devastatingly destructive that old Mother can be.

I believe that through honesty and genuine humility strength and honor are born, yet how often strength and power seem to distort perspective and damage one’s character.

I believe that ideally, wealth should be shared to the extent that no one need lead a deprived existence, yet I believe it’s the responsibility and privilege of each individual to provide for himself when at all possible.

I believe in fighting and defending a cause one believes is just, yet I feel the reasons behind such action oftentimes are not the purest in nature.

I believe there is perhaps nothing more beautiful or worthwhile than a meaningful relationship between two people, yet I feel it is virtually impossible for one person to fully know or understand another, let alone himself.

I believe in the virtue of honesty, yet feel it’s necessary to use it sparingly at times, and lovingly, so as to avoid its implicit nature of cruelty.

I believe that to place judgment upon another for what he is, is to reveal in a self-righteous way my own fears and limitations, yet in what other way can values be evaluated and learned?

I believe that everything does eventually die, while all things live forever.

I would like to think of myself as a pacifist, and I believe that to destroy something involves the partial destruction of myself, yet I believe that the creation of one thing, necessarily implies the destruction of something else.

In closing, I’d have to say that if anyone was to come to me in search of an answer it would probably be quite a mistake.  I’d more than likely have not even one, or perhaps far too many.  But then, isn’t each man’s reward and responsibility to search out those answers most meaningful to him?