Blinded by the bombardment of modern world ideas, centred around the pursuit of happiness, as portrayed through movies, books, and false ideas of success, I could not see the world for what it really is. We, as humans, search for good for ourselves in all its forms, each individual according to his/her own understanding of the concept, as forged by society around us and our life experiences. What do we define “success” as? In essence, this is what shapes us, and makes us who we are. We have limited time in our earthly endeavour. So the most important question pertaining to us is: what do we strive toward; what is our endeavour?
Since childhood, I was searching for a way to better myself, to improve my character, and in this way be a beacon of light, among others like myself, to my ever extending family of human beings. In all truth, I strived to be the beacon, never content with being just one of many. I have listened intently to story after story of how a person in history rose to power, or attained a version of himself that I would be satisfied with if it were me. But still, I wanted more. I heard how Einstein was called a genius, and how Napoleon was called “great,” how Tesla was “brilliant,” and Umar ibn al-Khattab was “just.” I heard these noble labels, but I wanted to attain more. What more? What more can even be achieved than those who had better circumstances and resources, stronger willpowers, and a level of focus that could pierce through mountains? I can only dream of my name being among theirs in the books of history.
I always heard that changing the world for one person is still changing the world. Yet, I carried on, holding onto the fire in my heart that screamed for more, yearned for fame. Fame? Is that what I want? I always heard that a small act of recurring kindness is better than one big change. I believed it. But did I act it? I always saw that inner integrity brings more satisfaction than a strive to be better than another, who in fact is striving much the same strive. Yet, I did not internalise what I saw.
I wanted happiness in the ‘quick fix’ sense of the word. I failed to see that attaining a hidden power is more valuable than attaining one that people can see. I thought that someone calling me good would be enough of a repayment for my help… It should have been enough just to know that they are happy.
The truth of the matter is that the world is imperfect. Be unlucky now, learn valuable lessons to coping with your circumstances. This, in turn, brings luck in the future, when your ‘quick fix’ luck inevitably runs out. So why not enjoy being hurt a little now, so that when it really matters, you can cope. The world is imperfect. There are no such things as happy endings. You are never the strongest, or smartest, or prettiest, or most powerful. Do not place your standards by these bars, as they are relative, and you will almost always be disappointed. Rather hang your standards by two things: the amount of good you have brought about for others, and that you are better today than you were yesterday. Those two things are what really count. The world doesn’t end, in a sense. Life goes on, with or without you. What ends, at some point, is you, and its not your job to make it a happy ending, but much rather a good one for the world, for even after the ending, there is another beginning.
My final words of advice to myself is to be confident. Confidence comprises not only of what one feels, but how he acts. To be confident doesn’t mean to act as if there are no limits. That is overconfidence. Confidence is knowing your limits, and working together with them, and training yourself to push them back some. To be confident, you must be patient. Sometimes, all you can do is stand still, and wait for the leaves to fall into place. All, sooner or later, realise that time flies. What was once is no more. This is the journey of life. Learn to be comfortable with this, learn the in’s and out’s of this trait of the world, and accept it as fact. Forgetting it will not make it disappear, just as sleeping in on a given day doesn’t make the day’s work go away. Know that a month will feel like a day, and that what was once young and brittle will mature and strengthen and become old and brittle once more. Do not regard death as something that will happen later, but rather that is happening now as you go through life, through every step, and every breath. At one point, it will be the pertinent reality. It is your final act in this finite sequence of acts. If you think about it, nothing is in your control. The world is imperfect. We are not here to set it straight, but rather set ourselves straight, in hopes that it will follow for a short while.