After my last column, I decided I’d shy away from controversial topics this week. Like many of you, I returned home to my family for Fall Break. For me, stints between long periods of school serve as a time to relax and recharge. But conversations with my parents always seem to lead down the same road. When their incessant questioning about recent developments in my life ends, I’m left to think of what’s become of my life. Somehow there’s a negative connotation to the aforementioned statement, maybe not inherently to some people, but the question leaves me with an uneasy feeling.

At this point in my life, I can’t pinpoint many things. As I learn more about the world, I question my position on nearly every subject. Religion? Don’t ask me. My position on the current economic crisis? I’d tell you, but my opinion will undoubtedly change before this piece is published. This weekend my father asked me the simple question: “What do you believe in?” And herein lies today’s column.

I thought paying homage to National Public Radio’s “This I Believe” series would be appropriate. Perhaps it’s the cynic in me, but I’ve read numerous “This I Believe” essays from NPR’s long-running series. Topics range from the typical religious rant about God and sinners and heaven and hell and everything between, to the obscure half-wit essay about believing in ice cream. (I’m sure realists are questioning how someone could refute the existence of ice cream.)

I’m laying my column out like any author would. Scene comes first, characters second. Except in this context, you’re already aware of the character — the column is titled “This I Believe,” a simple clue as to whom we’re talking about.

When I contemplated my father’s question, I was left with uncertainties rather than answers. So I return to the most fundamental reasons for my uncertainty.

I believe in the act of reading and the experience that goes into the ordeal. Reading for me is a pseudo-holy experience. Just as many people proclaim they have a feeling of subservience and gratitude to their almighty creator, I feel the same for Wilde, Hemingway, Cummings and Kerouac. When I walk into a bookstore, the experience is like walking into a church for me. I bask in the words, in the wisdom, in the intricate philosophies each author paints with every word.

When I read, I feel small compared to the author’s mind I’m able to pick. Only through the portal that subsides as page and ink, binding and cover, am I allowed to become familiar with their words. Man himself composed each and every word, each and every tragedy and triumph and sorrow.

In many of my English classes I’ve been told art mimics life. But I believe the contrary. When I look at the sky filled with clouds, I think of Monet. When I have a realization, I think of related ideas I’ve read in books. When I thought about this ideal more, I return to the fact that I believe in humanity. Perhaps this is a basic realization for most people, but I’ve always had an affinity for ideals that aren’t tangible.

I believe in man. I believe in everything man has created, in everything man will create and in the triumph and tragedy and sorrow each and every man, real or fictional, will experience and has already.

But I guess there’s no need to tell you to believe in what exists.

Eaghan Davis can be reached at daviseas@umich.edu.

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