When I was young, I wanted to save the world.
Before falling asleep I would lay in the darkness of my room hearing the movement of my fan as it rotated in uncoordinated circles. I didn’t know how I would create this change, but I imagined myself there, anywhere, feeling the splendor of accomplishment as I, and others, created something that was meaningful and that made a difference. I felt it inside me, the adrenaline of possibility and of hope.
As I grew older things become more complicated, yet I did not lose faith. I believed in humankind, in change, and in the satisfaction of being there for one another – in love. I believed in all that could be.
Time passed just as water moves in a running river: never steady enough to wait but always strong enough to travel. It passed and I grew. I grew into someone who knew more and believed less. Into someone whose dreams became smaller because what I thought was achievable changed size.
My dreaming of change turned into theories of how to save the world. These made my head spin and were not very clear or concrete; but they were still there, and holding on to them was important. These theories, these plans, they were the seeds that kept the thrill alive. They were what made believe in possibility – at least I had the answers, or thought I did.
Nonetheless, I was tired, distracted, running away from myself and running away from the world. I was out of breath.
Then I went to India.
I went to India and saw things I did not really want to see, within myself and without. I discovered life outside of a bubble and realized I knew very little. All these theories – they were so much harder when I tried to put them into practice. It was like being slapped in the face, the sting a reminder of all that I could not implement. I felt like a hypocrite and I felt lost. I came to see that it is much harder to listen when you have decided you already know.
Later, after leaving India and having space to process my experience, I realized how much love surrounded me and how much knowledge was given to and shared with me there. As so many told me would happen, India did tint my soles, but the ink did not remain there. It seeped into my soul as a reminder of the unknown. Although it is still hard to translate my feelings into words, for now, I want to share this:
The world does not need us to save it; it needs us to understand it.
The world is just as complex as everything within it. There will be problems and when those occur, it will not be easy and it will not always be simple. There will never be one answer or one truth, but an intertwined net of many. Change will take grit and it will take failure and through these, there will be successes. Perhaps to help is not to give after all, but rather to empower.
So this how I will save the world: I won’t.
I will listen to it instead. I will try to see the beauty of the world around and let that be my inspiration rather than the idea of being its savior. Maybe then, we can see how listening to understand is just as valuable as acting to do.