If you've spent any time on NPR.com's This I Believe, the spoken essays on NPR that are based on a 1950s radio program of the same name, Americans from all walks of life share the personal philosophies and core values that guide their daily lives, maybe you've given some thought to just exactly what you believe.  I have given it some thought.

Take your life, blow away the superfluous activity and worry, pass by the time-consuming daily chores, and turn away from those people and things that simply bring difficulty to your days.  What is left is what is important.  What is left is the condensed essence of who you are and what you care for.

Watching my life on the boiler, the first things that blow away in a vaporous mist is the driving, the teaching, the cleaning, the fussing, the worrying, and the computer.  Cooking skitters away the fastest.  Next in the condensing procedure are the numerous family members who tend to express disapproval, dismay, or simple dislike.  I'm happy to see them gone and they seem to leave with some satisfaction.  Following closely behind, acquaintances who tend to take more than they give or who need me more than want me.

Floating away on the breath of a whisper, car troubles, money worries, buying and selling of any and all things, tiresome banter, dreary philosophical discussions of all kind, and household clutter.  Vaporizing and shimmering into non-existence, even my most treasured of belongings:  pictures, letters, and possessions from long-gone loved ones.  And finally, as the haze of memories and plans clear away, what is left in the bottom of the vessel? 

I peer in carefully.  There, solid and lovely, surrounded by warmth and honesty, my family.  My husband and my two children.  My stepchildren.  My sister.  The relationships that honestly mean everything to me.

People make life worth living.  Take care of your relationships so that they will be left in the vessels of the ones that you love instead of a disappearing haze above their lives... 

This I believe.

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