A Gentle Revolution
When I was 10, I wanted to leave my mark in the world.
I knew I was born for something big.
I knew I was born with a revolution raging in my soul.
I knew I was born to be remembered. My name forever engraved in history. My quest for significance burned with an ache so desperate that only 10 year olds are capable of feeling.
On t.v. I had watched some middle-school kids in America burying a time-capsule filled with the students’ names and scribbled messages. It thrilled me to my toes just thinking that my name, my hopes and my handwriting would be discovered decades later.
But this was back in 1980, back at a time when the Malaysia I grew up in was still mostly sleepy towns and large patches of untamed jungle territory. And there I was, an unknown girl, in an unknown village, in an unknown country, yearning for significance.
Yearning for my name to be buried in a time-capsule so that a part of me would live on forever.
Just to leave behind a small sign that I had been here on planet Earth.
Nobody in my entire town had ever heard of time-capsules; never mind letting children bury anything in the ground with their names on it to be dug out decades later. I was ahead of my time. I felt sorely cheated out of life.
Born at the wrong time, at the wrong side of the world without a smidgen of possibility of ever having my name entombed in a time-capsule.
I don’t think I was the first to have dwelt on my own mortality or envisioned greatness and entertained the thought of leaving something of myself to posterity. Kings erected monuments for themselves. The Pharaohs left towering pyramids. The Guinness Book of Records is filled with folks trying to leave their mark.
We all want to leave a part of ourselves behind. To be remembered. Even if it’s just a graffiti on the wall.
But along the way we so confuse fame with success. Riches with wealth. Pleasure with happiness. Personal ambition with service. We confuse approval and applause as a sign that we’re on the right track.
Maybe all we just truly want to do is to bring all our gifts and talents and make a positive dent in our world. But our little lives seem just so mundanely ordinary. The years are passing by and we’re still scrubbing that darn bathroom floor. We’ve just made our one thousandth spaghetti bolognese dinner. We’re still endlessly folding an eternity of laundry.
Where is the greatness in this? Where is that burning revolution I was born to ignite? Where is my destiny in all of this?
Perhaps, just perhaps, the revolution that we are looking for is right before us. In the mundane. In the ordinary. In the insignificant. Behind closed doors. Where nobody’s watching.
Perhaps, this revolution that burns in our soul is not a revolution that promotes the self but one which is about dying to self.
Perhaps, we are already right now living out our biggest dreams. This is the something big we have been dreaming about. Right where we are.
Perhaps, that longing for greatness is already answered. But we can’t see it because we have a fixated idea about what greatness should look like.
Perhaps ultimately, it is not a thunderous roar of a revolution that marks our lives. But a gentle revolution. A revolution of service.
Just to be faithful to the task right before us. To do the best we can with what we have.
Perhaps, this is a revolution of our every days. Of our daily commitment to revolutionise everything our hands set out to do. A revolution in our loving and our caring of each other.
Perhaps that is the revolution we have been seeking for our whole lives.
This big, this deep, yearning ache to make our lives count is a very precious gift. It is the call of every human heart. From the moment Life was breathed into our very essence, this deep hunger to fulfill our life’s mission was sacredly intertwined into our very existence.
And so, even if our names were to fade forever from every single remembrance, our deeds carried out with simple faithfulness and purity live on.
Perhaps, that is the ultimate revolution and greatest adventure of our lives. That we strive to live faithful to the ordinary.
For it is from being faithful to the small and the mundane that the extraordinary life is created.
You know that time-capsule I was hankering after when I was 10? I think it’s in the lives that I somehow touched in some way with care and with love.
I think that’s how we live on forever.
“Should your names fade from every mortal mind, and yet God be well pleased with you, ye will indeed be numbered among the treasures of His name, the Most Hidden.” – Baha’u’llah