Reliving the last year of my life in my head has been a flurry of blessings. It feels like the last quarter of a century I’ve been the diligent student, paying my dues, and at 26 I was fully able to reap the rewards of sometimes seemingly invaluable lessons. 2010 not only marked the turn of a new decade, but of the decade that my generation will witness the most significant change. Do we follow in our parents’, and our grandparents’, and their parents’ footsteps - get married, have children, raise them well, and toil away in the hopes of a secure future? Or do we set out on a path of continuous self-discovery by venturing into places we have yet to call home, travel to find pleasure in the discomfort and to seek familiarity in the displacement?
The new year started out like any other, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any different: a quiet one with the people I love the most, feeling a sense of gratitude for twelve months well-lived. At times we were bordering on hedonistic, but we chalked it up to being young, single, carefree. It’s nice to be selfish once in a while, isn’t it? What good is money if it can’t be spent buying things that would satiate our need to feel happy and our desire to be “whole”? Why fill a glass with champagne if it’s not to be drunk?
But in my subconscious, I’ve known all along that like most forms of “instant gratification”, the excess of the year that was would be fleeting. Every morning I am haunted by the thought of facing another day chasing an empty reward.
In the last month my professional life has been accelerated from 0 to 60, what I feel was an unwarranted, yet much appreciated salary increase, awards I never even dreamed of, adulation of my peers and those I look up to. Do not get me wrong, I am grateful… perhaps it’s to make up for the years I spent working in Toronto, not getting the recognition I thought I deserved, feeling very much like the minority, the immigrant I was? But… how is a roomful of applause an appropriate response for waking up past 9, spending Sunday mornings in recovery from yet another weekend of revelry? How did I get to finding a $150 meal per person a “reasonable expense”?
No longer can I stand by and watch us succumb to false notions of “happiness”, when most of the world (and yes, even your former self used to) survive on what we call a ” reasonable expense”. Something in me has woken up, like a match in my insides has been lit, a sense of altruism, yes… but the question stands - what are we going to do about it? At this day and age, what can be done?