I believe in planting seeds in pots and gardens, farms and minds and souls. I believe every seed planted has the potential for growth. I believe given enough space and time as well as nourishment and light, love and hope, any seed can grow anywhere.
At the age of 4, my best friend Bobby invited my baby brother and me over to spend the night. With the lights turned out, Bobby’s mother pulled the heavy drapes from the window, and behind that drapery an expansive inviting sky was revealed to us.
Bobby’s mother told us about the moon and the stars and that one day man would walk on that moon and explore all the planets of the universe. She pointed out the constellations and explained the Zodiac. With each spoken word my world became bigger and my dreams became grander and my imagination flourished.
I believe all people are defined by their Birth Charts, the alignment of the planets at the moment of their birth. I believe in fate and Karmic debt and freedom of choice and tomorrow. I believe in you.
I believe children living in poverty in a foreign nation can learn critical thinking as well as how to count, read and speak English. As a Peace Corps volunteer, I taught children colors and numbers and carry-overs and cause and effect. I taught them English, too. My house became known as the House of Learning.
I taught the mothers how to be respected by the limits of behavior I was willing to accept myself. I lived in a community with no running water, sporadic electricity and no telephones. There was no glass on the windows. There was no privacy either.
People would stand in the streets yelling the name of the person they wanted to speak to until that person yelled back and a conversation would ensue. If someone wanted my attention, they had to come to my door to speak with me. A cultural difference? Perhaps. The outcome was women telling their husbands they no longer wanted to be treated like animals. They no longer accepted yelling, ridicule or beatings from their husbands.
Forty years after the sleepover at Bobby’s house, I have taken many long walks in the summer evenings with my nieces and nephews, sharing the knowledge that Bobby’s mother shared with me so many years ago. In our conversations, I plant my seeds so the kids can let them grow.
An encounter with my 17 nieces and nephews doesn’t pass — whether in person or over the telephone — that at least one “I love you” and a “thank you” is expressed sincerely by me. I’ve taught the children how to hug and the boys how to ask a girl for permission to kiss her.
At the age of 44, I still haven’t borne a child. I may never. But I don’t worry about death and an end. I’ll never be completely gone. I have planted too many seeds along the way.
Maggie Cassaro is an artist and writer living in the Original Highlands, where her studio and garden serve as her centers for creativity. Her paintings reside on three continents, and her written works have been printed in regional magazines. She is currently working on her first book. Contact her at [email protected]
LEO, in partnership with WFPL-FM, is publishing This I Believe essays by Louisville-area residents. To write your own essay stating a core belief, go to www.thisibelieve.org. Some essays will be published or broadcast, and LEO will publish additional essays on its Web site.