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Wayne Coyne – "This I Believe" – NPR Feb. 26, 2007

Here’s a transcript of Wayne Coyne’s “This I Believe” essay, delivered Feb. 26 on National Public Radio.

I believe we have the power to create our own happiness. I believe the real magic
in the world is done by humans. I believe normal life is extraordinary.

I was sitting in my car at a stoplight intersection listening to the radio. I was,
I guess, lost in the moment, thinking how happy I was to be inside my nice warm car.
It was cold and windy outside, and I thought, “Life is good.”

Now, this was a long light. As I waited, I noticed two people huddled together at
the bus stop. To my eyes, they looked uncomfortable; they looked cold and they
looked poor. Their coats looked like they came from a thrift store. They weren’t
wearing stuff from The Gap. I knew it because I’d been there.

The couple seemed to be doing their best to keep warm. They were huddled together,
and I thought to myself, “Oh, those poor people in that punishing wind.”

But then I saw their faces. Yes, they were huddling, but they were also laughing.
They looked to be sharing a good joke, and suddenly, instead of pitying them,
I envied them. I thought, “Huh, what’s so funny?” They didn’t notice the wind.
They weren’t worried about their clothes. They weren’t looking at my car thinking,
“I wish I had that.”

You know when a single moment feels like an hour? Well, in that moment, I realized
I had assumed this couple needed my pity, but they didn’t. I assumed things were
all bad for them, but they weren’t. And I understood we all have the power to
make moments of happiness happen.

Now, maybe that’s easy for me to say. I feel lucky to have fans around the world,
a house with a roof and a wife who puts up with me. But I felt this way even when
I was working at Long John Silver’s. I worked there for 11 years as a fry cook.
When you work at a place that long, you see teenagers coming in on their first dates;
then they’re married; then they’re bringing in their kids. You witness whole sections
of people’s lives.

In the beginning, it seemed like a dead-end job. But at least I had a job. And frankly,
it was easy. After two weeks, I knew all I needed to know, and it freed my mind. The
job allowed me to dream about what my life could become.

The first year I worked there, we got robbed. I lay on the floor. I thought I was
going to die. I didn’t think I stood a chance. But everything turned out all right.
A lot of people look at life as a series of miserable tasks, but after that, I didn’t.

I believe this is something all of us can do: Try to be happy within the context of
the life we are actually living. Happiness is not a situation to be longed for or a
convergence of lucky happenstance. Through the power of our own minds, we can
help ourselves.

This I believe.