After a particularly pessimistic rant about American politics, and how none-of-it-really-matters-because-once-star-wars-happens-and-satellites-start-getting-blown-out-of-the-sky-life-as-we-know-it-is-over, my colleague lightly chuckles and asks:
“If the world is so bad, why do you get up in the morning?”
Hm, well I wasn’t expected that…
I usually have an answer to everything.
I’m good at that: Talking. (Some would say, bullshi**ing.)
But this, I can’t answer.
That question continues to haunt me as I walk home; like that monster I once swore was hiding in my closet. I never saw it, but I knew it was there. Waiting to pounce when I thought I was safe.
“Can I have a mid-life crisis at 26?” I ask myself; standing opposite my reflection. The usually warm glow from my vanity now feels like a harsh spotlight.
Something drives all of us. Maybe it’s making money, finding love, walking your dog, eating a great breakfast, or helping people…something triggers your brain to wake up in the morning and encourages your body to face the uncomfortable realities of the world.
What is my “something”?
For me, adulthood has been a journey into the realization that optimism eventually becomes something resembling acceptance. I’ve accepted that people aren’t always as kind, logical, brave and happy as I once believed. That the world is riddled with problems that routinely bulldoze proposed solutions. That opportunity is often paved by disappointment and rejection.
Surely we’ve all felt this way at some point. Confused. Hopeless. Lost.
It’s why billions rejoiced when 2016 crashed and burned into 2017, but quickly found that 2017 wasn’t much better. No matter your political views or position in life, I think it would be difficult to argue that 2017 was a wonderful year for the world at-large.
Yet, we still get up. We still go to work, feed our dog, hug our partner, and eat breakfast. We face the world – in all its horror – because, although there are global forces that push and pull the world into its many directions, on a personal level we can leave a positive footprint.
We all have the right to say, “I was here.”
The question is: How do we do it?
A few days later I was still suffering from this nagging monster. This question that I couldn’t find an answer to, but one that I inexplicably felt directed the rest of my life.
Then, like a pop-angel pulling me from the abyss, I heard Beyonce’s voice through my speakers. I either have Youtube’s algorithm or divine intervention to thank (could be both), but there was the inspiration I needed.
I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, meant something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I’ll leave no regrets
Leave something to remember, so they won’t forget
I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I’ve done everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here
But it’s not just the lyrics of this song that touched me; it was also the images. Those of people helping people. Whether it be dangling from a helicopter or giving a jacket to someone shivering. It’s not complicated. We can each leave this world “a little better.”
Almost simultaneously as those images began flashing across my screen, I received an email from an organization asking me to create a short documentary about preventing gender-based violence.
And there it was; My answer.
I get up in the morning to tell stories. To not only say “I was here” but to say, “They were here too…and this is what we did.” It might not be my 9 to 5 job, but it’s my passion. I get up in the morning to make a difference with the abilities and skills that I have. Even if that video only receives 100 views, that’s 100 lives I’ve (hopefully) influenced with a positive message.
Isn’t that enough?
So, I’ll end 2017 with not only Beyonce’s lyrics battling the monster that seeks to drag me into full-fledged pessimism, but also the words of pacifist Vera Brittain from her novel, The Testament of Youth:
“…for better, for worse, we are now each of us part of the surge and swell of great economic and political movements, and whatever we do, as individuals or as nations, deeply affects everyone else.”