Math homework, then I’ve got to practice piano, then eat dinner, then…. My thoughts were an unending stream cascading into the overflowing ocean that was my head. Wait, when am I going to clean my room?! Ok, I guess I have to move my club meeting to…
“ABI! Are you deaf?” my Expert Exposer asked angrily. “Why aren’t you listening to me?”
Dazed from the mental torrent, I looked up and said, “Sorry, I’ve just got a lot on my mind right now.”
EE took no excuses. “Well, forget about it right now, and hurry up. If we’re going to take a walk, we need to do it before it gets too dark outside.”
It was around six in the evening, so I figured we had at least an hour and a half more of sunlight, so I said, “Ok, let’s go,” and started to walk toward the door. That reminds me, I have to get my books from the car door, and then return them….
“Abi, aren’t you forgetting something?” EE asked, pointing at my feet.
I looked down and saw my feet, clad in a set of old flip flops. Slightly embarrassed, I said, “Oh, right, I’ll go get my tennis shoes.”
I need to clear my head, I thought while I laced my shoes and grabbed my white-rimmed black sunglasses. Otherwise, I might lose it somewhere.
We set out on our walk around the neighborhood but despite the beautiful scenery and fresh air, I could not see beyond the musty confines of my own mind. EE could tell I was still distracted. “All right, Abi, what’s up with you?” EE asked. “It better be something good to keep you from focusing on me!”
EE’s question was opened my mind like a faucet that allowed my thoughts to pour from my mind. My responsibilities, my fears, my worries, my life became the main topics of our walk that evening. I kept talking and EE kept listening while the sun slowly began to set.
As we rounded the corner of the last leg of our walk, EE interrupted me, saying, “Abi is this it?”
Confused by the question, I said, “What do you mean, ‘Is this it,’? This is what I am dealing with right now,” I don’t know what EE was expecting, but these are all the things I live with every day, I thought, becoming a little irritated.
After staring at me for so long I felt like I was being x-rayed, EE said, “Abi, you don’t know how good your life really is.”
“Oh really? Why don’t you tell me since you obviously know my life so well,” I responded.
And EE enlightened me about how good my life is. Not with personal issues, but with the issues EE’s community had dealt with. Poverty, discrimination, and ignorance were just some of the real-life difficulties EE had witnessed. EE continued to expose to me the adversity that both people in my community and those in less fortunate countries, like those in my home continent of Africa, face.
EE concluded by saying, “You really live a life of privilege. You have stability and support that most people can only dream about. Because of the lucky life you lead, you, as a privileged person, have a responsibility to care for those less privileged, Abi. Remember that the next time you become absorbed in your own life.”
Since that day, I have remembered to be aware of the world around me. EE’s frankness taught me to focus less about my own issues and to be aware of the problems other people. Over time, I realized that any problem I had would pale in comparison to those of people in my community, my country, or even my world.
Lesson Learned: Ignorance is NOT Bliss. Empower yourself and become aware of the lives of people around you. Whether it is new students in your school or a community of kids halfway around the world open your eyes to their hopes and dreams, their hardships and their difficulties. Although life is comfortable in your secure little bubble, take a risk and step our into the new environment of awareness and action J.“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” James Thurber