I wrote the following personal essay because I believe one of the best ways to teach writing is by writing. I ask my seniors to write This I Believe essays to help us get to know one another and to give them an opportunity to receive some authentic feedback — we share them as a class — on the sort of essay (sometimes the essay) they submit with their college applications. I’ve written several of these over the years; this is the first I’ve posted.

I believe in sunshine.

That big, yellow fusion-driven ball of fire is a darn good thing for our planet, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

My sunshine is my husband of fifteen years, Stanley. We met on an overcast, wintry day in December, but the weather outside did not reflect the immense positive force he would become in my life.

Stanley is one of those people who see the world through rose-colored glasses. If his soccer shoes were on sale for $59.99 then they were a steal, “only fifty bucks!”

His outlook applies to sports too. If he caught a few runs of powder at Buffalo Ski Club then the powder was knee deep and he was getting blasted in the face the whole time. Never mind that I skied the same runs and I can attest to the fact that we were lucky if the four inches of fresh snow made it to the tops of our knees.

Surfing is no different. When we are out on Lake Erie, every wave he catches is super smooth, super long and he makes “at least four turns.” Surfing Lake Erie is an incredible experience, but mostly because it is an anomaly. The Great Lakes don’t have the fetch necessary to build the long, smooth waves surfers live for. Rides are short, choppy and cold.

But my point is this: to Stanley, it just doesn’t matter. In his eyes, the waves never end, the powder is deep and his favorite Adidas kicks are always on deep discount because his world is full of sunshine. And, at some point, I realized that my world should be a sunny place too.

For years I reveled in my realism. I was the teller of truths. I was all facts, no fiction. I wanted the real story, not the Stanley-mark-down version. But then I started to hear the message beneath my quest for the factual accuracy. It was not a pretty picture. Instead of reveling in the moment, I was judging it, measuring it, comparing it to other moments. I was the cynic, the one who rained on the parade.

Now, like my husband, I live in the moment. I don’t worry about other moments, or whether or not this particular moment measures up. It’s the moment I have and I make the most of it. I get to ski four inches of fresh powder before anyone else hits the slopes? That’s the bomb. Surfing Lake Erie in 20mph winds? I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I believe in sunshine and if the yellow globe in the sky doesn’t cooperate, it doesn’t matter because I’ve got backup.

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