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Unidentified Man: I believe in adaptation.

Unidentified Woman: I believe in a silver lining.

Unidentified Woman #2: I believe that being flexible keeps me going.

Unidentified Man #2: I believe every single person deserves to be acknowledged.

Unidentified Man #3: This I believe.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Our This I Believe essay today was sent in by Gina Parosa, who lives on a farm in La Center, Washington. She and her husband have other jobs too, but on the farm, they raise hay and keep horses. The horses led Perosa to write about her belief. Here's our series curator, independent producer, Jay Allison.

JAY ALLISON: Gina Parosa wrote her essay right after, what she says, was one of the worst nights of her life. It was a moment she realized that one of her beliefs had limits, and it was up to her to set them. Here's Gina Parosa with her essay for This I Believe.

GINE PEROSA: (Reading) The architectural term, pathways of desire, refers to dirt ruts in the grass that people make when they want a shortcut between prescribed routes. If you have a yard, you probably have at least a few of them. I live on a farm, and we have dozens. The path between the doghouse and the porch, the tight corner around the house on the south side, horse trails, the line between one gate and the next. I'm a firm believer in protecting pathways of desire, but I believe we have to be careful of them too.

On one hand, I hate rules. I'm pretty creative about finding ways around them, and I always think twice about thwarting those of others. I respect desire in my children and in the animals on my farm. Their pathways look, to me, like individual choices, and I respect those. But my respect is double-edged because pathways of desire can also lead us into trouble.

Lately a pathway of desire has led our horses across what are supposed to be impassable barriers, the cattle guards. They want to come into our yard to eat green grass and apples off the trees before the family can. I understand this desire, even though I feed them bales of hay every day, and it ought to be enough. Well, Saturday night, our oldest horse fell while leaping the cattle guard and broke his hip. We had to put him down and have his carcass hauled away. The other horses watched the drama unfold. Did they learn anything? No.

Today, they're back in the yard. Thwarting pathways of desire is a constant concern of planners and architects and farmers, too. I'm going to have to pull out and enlarge our cattle guards, excavate deeply under them, paint them bright yellow, and pull a strand of electric fence across them until the horses understand that their pathway of desire isn't available to them anymore. This is hard for me. It goes against my nature, but sometimes I need to modify my belief based on what I've learned.

I realize that as a mother, a farmer, and wife, I sometimes must go along with the rules. For instance, my husband and I disagree on a lot, religion, politics. We don't like the same music. While our pathways of desire might breach our relationship, we put up a cattle guard, and we stay obediently on our own sides. It mostly works. Boundaries are necessary sometimes. Enforcing them takes a lot more effort than it ought to. I believe you have to choose your pathway of desire with care. Get it wrong and the consequences might be fatal. My old horse and I learned this the hard way.

ALLISON: Gine Parosa with her essay for This I believe. Parosa told us that the snow has been so deep lately that it covered the cattle guards, and the horses began crossing them again. She and her husband had to put the electric fence back up. As we enter the New Year, we want to repeat our invitation to write an essay for our series and submit it at npr.org. For This I Believe, I'm Jay Allison.

HANSEN: Jay Allison is co-editor with Dan Gediman, John Gregory, and Viki Merrick of the book, "This I Believe, Volume Two: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women."

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