A Rush of Pain

January 15, 2008
By Ashley Laitinen, Chewelah, WA

I felt a rush of pain in my foot as I stood so that my weight was on both feet. I had become so absorbed in my thoughts that I neglected to notice several things. I had been standing on one foot for way too long, I left my door open even though it bothers me to do so, and I had completely forgotten about my tea, which was now getting cold. Now I am back to scrutinizing a new concept. I have come to a very significant realization—quite possibly one that will send my entire universe into chaos. The vastness of this thought is so large that I deem it necessary to write down every detail, despite the fact that it is very late at night. I pull out my most prized journal—the one I only use for first-rate ramblings.

I was scrawling a million words per minute when my pen went flying out of my hand and my face turned as white and expressionless as a porcelain doll. When I get really scared I tend to scream, but there are times when I am so scared I am unable to move at all. The terror from the foreign noises outside my room quickly turned to panic that I would be torn away from my intriguing thoughts long enough to forget them. I knew what was at the door, but for the moment I didn't allow myself to accept that piece of knowledge. Like one might do with a disliked memory I erased the part of my brain that held that bit of information, or at least hid it away for a while. I pretended I was oblivious to the nightmare on the other side of the door as I continued writing.

Before today, I have been unable to send picture messages on my cell phone from my bedroom due to lack of service. As I tried to send a text message, another dialog box appeared that said, "sending." My phone was attempting to send a failed picture message from earlier, and the green status bar had already filled halfway. I knew that the message would probably fail. But, what if it didn't? As usual, I naively hoped this message would send. Then I realized I could still hear a voice in my head saying, "Yeah right, not likely." I tried to stifle the voice, and for once it actually worked! I started flooding with thoughts like "It could happen" and "Why not?" I was refreshed at my current optimistic thoughts and I embraced them, as I actually believed the message could send. Normally I would entirely rely on past experience to decide what I believed would happen. Since the majority of the time messages didn't send, I tended to believe they never would. This time I reassured myself with reasoning, thinking that since half the message had sent, the other half could be sent.

The noises were getting louder, distracting me again. I scrunched my eyes shut for a few seconds as I told myself to pretend there was nothing banging on my door. "This is an out-of-body experience," I silently chanted, "deal with the dilemma at hand; don't get caught up in Worryworld."

What if something is only really true when I believe it is? What is reality, really? Everything we "know" is everything we "believe," but perhaps we don't know everything we believe we do. If we know by believing, can we un-know by un-believing?

In retrospect, I can link every event in my past to a belief or an assumption. It seems hard to determine exactly when an assumption became a belief and when that belief became a fact. I cannot think of a single time when I didn't assume something to be true—at least a little—before finding out it had happened. I never whole-heartedly believed something that has been proven untrue.

Quite some time ago, I was sitting in my living room. The news I would receive within the next hour would change my life as much as anything else ever had or would. Before I had any way to know anything, I was silently pondering the possibilities. I stumbled upon a thought that was a horrible possibility, so horrible that I began to cry just thinking about it. There were no voices explaining why what I was thinking couldn't be true, and so I was able to believe it was—even if only for a moment. Soon after, the questions were answered. Unfortunately, I wasn't wrong. The worst-case scenario I had imagined really was true, but the odd thing is that I had assumed it was true before I had known.

We tend to believe that things happen as they happen, and that all physical actions cause a never-ending chain of reactions known as life. We see the truth in our newspapers and magazines, we learn from experiences that will taint every thought and decision for the rest of our lives. Usually, we go from wondering to assuming to believing so fast that we have a huge list of things we supposedly "know." Most would agree that things must be real for one to "know" them. Only truth can be known. Perhaps everything doesn't happen in the order we think it does. Maybe we believe things before we know them, which causes them to become true. If we could just silence the voices that cause us to assume, maybe we could have control over anything. I've brought myself to a chicken-versus-egg question: Which came first, knowing or believing?

For the third time, the loud racket outside my door scares me into dropping my pen. I pick it up and try to write, but the noises are inevitably loud. I try closing my eyes again, chanting my new mantra: " This is an out-of-body experience. Deal with the dilemma at hand." It doesn't work at first so I keep saying it. " This is an out-of-body experience. Deal with the dilemma at hand."

I open my eyes to realize that I must have fallen asleep. In my lap lies my journal, opened to a blank page with my pen sitting on top. I think I might have flipped forward a few pages in my sleep, so I go to turn back to what I'd written earlier that night. To my surprise, I had written nothing new in this journal for over two weeks.
I hadn't lost my thoughts on beliefs and knowledge. I still wondered if believing something could make it true, and if not believing something could make it not true. I remembered how I had been trying to pretend there was nothing at my door. Then I let out a sigh of relief as I looked to see that the door was wide open, just as I had left it as I watched a white box appear on my phone that said "Message Sent Successfully."

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