Yes, it is not January anymore but yes, 2019 can still be your year.
Recently, I have found myself actively seeking the loud and speculative voices in my head; the what if's. What if Maya Angelou had never put in words how she was first cuddled then raped by her mother's boyfriend at age 7? What if Malala Yousafzai never began to fight for girls' education? What if Muhammad Ali had never learned to fight back for himself? Ushering in the purpose train of thought, it is imperative to wonder what kind of life you want to lead, what type of person you want to be, what mark you want to leave on this world? Not only for personal growth, but it is also integral to the development and of societies to strive towards betterment, improvement, influence and channeling your passions into action.
A week ago, I listened intently to a speech at Annenberg by accomplished Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as she commented on the need to inflict positive change, as it is in the hands of the youth to drive society towards progress. Progress does not mean disparities between people, imperialism, poverty. Progress does not mean child labour, sex slaves, high crime rates. Progress does not mean melting ice caps, fewer trees, pollution. Let's reconstruct towards optimism; progress means cooperation, tolerance, selflessness. Progress means reusing, reducing - a grandeur scale of actions that can gain traction and overcome the antonyms of progress. Not that the ideas have not yet been conceived, just that they have not been implemented.
Still, the question of how remains in the ability of youth. Who is there to listen, when attention is directed to other parts of the media: fame. Instant gratification and mass consumerism coupled with celebrities, "influencers," YouTube vloggers and so on, dominates technology, distracting from the question about purpose, and what truly is important. Meaning, what is the impact? What is the worthy contribution? The answer then lies in empathy and critical thinking, individual action, the truth in the saying that a single soul can accomplish great feats. Make your voice heard as Maya Angelou did, as Malala Yousafzai did, as Muhammad Ali did. Bringing me to the meaning of my title: improvement. Poet Edgar Albert Guest wrote,
The joy of life is living it, or so it seems to me;
In finding shackles on your wrists, then struggling till you're free;
In seeing wrongs and righting them, in dreaming splendid dreams,
Then toiling till the vision is as real as moving streams.
Indeed it is true, that without working towards a better self, there is no way one will magically wake up in an untouched world. It is therefore important to allow yourself distraction on occasion, but it is even more important to find the spirit that fuels your fire, and work towards restoring the beauty of the world. Then, believe in your own excellence- but keep it to yourself- let others discover your accomplishments.
Better than a beautiful face is a beautiful heart, and better than a beautiful world, is a beautiful deed.