This I believe
The other night at dinner Dylan, my 8 year-old son asked Cindy and I, “Why hasn’t the Tooth Fairy taken my tooth yet?” His blue eyes widened and edged on tears, “It’s been under my pillow for a week.”
Cindy and I looked at each other with lowered eyes. Ashamed. Embarrassed. And trying hard not to laugh at our incompetence.
“Is your tooth still in that green box they gave you at school when it fell out?” Cindy asked.
“It was. But a few days ago I took it out of the box and put it on my mattress so the Tooth-Fairy could see it.”
Chase and Haley laughed. I laughed. Cindy stared daggers at the three of us, as if scolding us with only her eyes.
The dinner table turned silent.
Then Cindy blurted out, “Chase, have you been stealing his tooth every night and putting it under his pillow every morning?”
Chase burst into laughter. Which made us all, except Dylan, burst into laughter.
“Why would you do that Chase?” Dylan asked. “The Tooth Fairy has probably been looking for my tooth all week.”
A few years ago, I tasked my creative writing class with forming a list of statements that begin with “I believe…”
A student in the back row spoke, “Like I believe school sucks…”
The class chuckled.
I must have given him the Northeast Philly-you-better-not-take-my-parking spot-look because he quickly added, “…except for this class.”
“But ‘I believe school sucks’ is unoriginal. Why does school suck?”
He thought, then spoke, “I believe school sucks because you waste so much time thinking about what other people are thinking instead of thinking about what is important to you.”
From 1951 to 1955, journalist Edward R. Murrow hosted a five-minute segment on CBS Radio, that asked famous and everyday people to share personal essays on air about what they believed in. The segment was called “This I believe”
Since then, “This I believe” has inspired various radio show spinoffs, book collections, and tired creative writing teachers in need of a writing prompt.
Murrow created the show when he returned to America after covering World War II in Europe. Though the War was over, the world’s psyche was greatly damaged. Threats of Communism and nuclear war sparked fear and confusion and suspicion.
It’s April 20, 2022, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine intensifies. Philadelphia reinstated its mask mandate to quell another Covid outbreak. And a New York Times article has just pronounced man-made climate change has caused an increase in hurricane activity.
In 1951, Murrow recognized people were struggling to discover what they believe in. In his explanation of the “This I believe” segment, “We are living in an age of confusion. A lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism. Or for a heavy package of despair. Or even a quivering portion of hysteria.”
I think Murrow may recognize the people of 2022, like those of the 1950’s, are also struggling.
If Murrow was seated at the dinner table, he might remind us that believing in something–even the Tooth Fairy–can provide us hope and comfort in turbulent times. He may remind me not to laugh at my son’s beliefs or anyone’s beliefs for that matter. Then he might turn to me and sternly ask, “So what do you believe in?”
I believe in family dinners.
I believe in laughter.
I believe in taking healthy risks.
I believe Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah is the best version.
I believe in doing work that helps others.
I believe religion is a private matter.
I believe in love at first sight.
I believe self-care is necessary to take care of others.
I believe you must reinvent yourself every few years.
I believe you and I have stories worth sharing.
I believe if we literally walked a mile in someone else’s shoes the world would be a much more tolerant place.
I believe most things are not worth worrying about.
I believe poet Ezra Pound’s writing advice, “Only emotion endures” is also valuable life advice.
I believe in naps.
I believe Einstein was correct when he claimed imagination is more important than knowledge.
I believe you’re responsible for improving yourself.
I believe success is measured only by the strength of relationships.
I believe children who receive excessive parental praise will be disliked by most of their future teachers.
I believe actions speak much louder than words.
I believe most grammar rules are silly and meant to be broken.
I believe self-pity and self-praise are both unattractive and uninteresting.
I believe to doubt is to be human.
I believe writing helps you appreciate your own uniqueness.
I believe youth sports are too expensive.
I believe in karma.
I believe we will never totally know ourselves.
I want to welcome everyone who recently subscribed to my blog through the Book Funnel promotion and received a free eBook version of Bedtime Stories for the Living. I hope you enjoy the book. And I hope my silly, dad brain brings you insight, comfort, and humor each Friday.
Through Book Funnel’s April promotions, I’ve teamed up with over 100 awesome authors who, for a limited time, are giving away their eBooks for FREE! These books are nonfiction and range from self-improvement to memoirs. Please checkout the links below and discover some fantastic authors:
April FREE Non-Fiction Books:
Free Books for Sant Jordi Day: https://books.bookfunnel.com/freebooksforsantjordi/zgbobfmhrf
Knowledge in Time:https://books.bookfunnel.com/great-minds/m5o2esjnxe
Save the Children:
Last Week’s Post: Advice from an Uncertain Father
“It frightens me how fast I went from daddy to dad. From holding hands and not holding hands. From picking up my baby girl from her crib after she cries to picking her up from Applebee’s at 11 p.m. after she texts, “We’re done. Come get me.””
Video of the Week: Edward R. Murrow explains why the “This I Believe” segment is important
If you would like to share something with others (a photo, a poem, a song, a quote, etc.) that tosses some positive vibes into the world, please send your suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Bedtime Stories for the Living recently received not ONE…not TWO…but THREE highly coveted 5-Star ratings from Reader’s Favorite–a highly-respected literary website that reviews books from all over the world!!!
Readers’ Favorite Review by Emma Megan
Jay Armstrong, a high school English teacher, explains in “Bedtime Stories for the Living: A Father’s Funny and Heartbreaking Memoir About The Power of Pursuing Your Dreams” how he was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative brain disease. This striking memoir contains wonderful love letters for each of Jay’s children, beautiful true stories, and precious life lessons and advice. It also contains what Jay never told his kids, what he felt like saying to them but failed as life got in the way. In “Bedtime Stories for the Living”, Jay talks about poetry and books, the importance of writing and its impact on his life, offering aspiring writers valuable writing tips. He also talks about the beauty and the challenges of life, of being a parent, and the difficulty of dealing with a rare disease.
You cannot read this breathtaking memoir and still be ungrateful for your health. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” by Jay Armstrong is the best motivational book I’ve ever read. Jay’s writing style is addictive, mainly because it’s nostalgic, vulnerable, and filled with wisdom and sorrow. In his uniqueness, Jay inspires and encourages not only his children but all his readers to figure out their dreams and to chase the one that brings them joy, to read poetry, and never to ignore their internal voice. He reminds them that they are responsible for how they adapt to change. “Bedtime Stories for the Living” is truly an empowering book as it speaks to the heart and the mind and delivers inspirational life lessons and unique stories. It’s undoubtedly a must-read.
Check out the fancy new sticker for the book cover.
Are you a reader? Looking for your next good book to read or listen to? Check out my new page “Jay’s Book Shelf” for some book recommendations.
Here’s what I’m currently reading: Educated by Tara Westover
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We’re lucky to be alive
Jay Armstrong is a writer, speaker, former award-winning high school English teacher, and an award-winning author. Despite being diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, that impairs his movement, balance, eyesight, and speech–Jay presses on. He hopes to help you find joy, peace, and meaning in life. For Jay, a good day consists of 5 things:
4. Hearing his three children laugh
5. Hugging his wife
(Bonus points for a dinner with his parents or a drink with his friends)
Jay hasn’t had a bad day in quite a long time.
You can also visit Jay at jayarmstrongwrites.com