“I fear oblivion. I fear it like the proverbial blind man who’s afraid of the dark.” Much like Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars, I too, find myself fearing oblivion. I fear living in a world where the thoughts and concerns of the earth’s inhabitants lack depth, experience, and information. This puzzles me. If the 21st century boasts being the era of innovation, technology, and communication, then why despite all that, are the thoughts of many of my peers so similar? Why is the fight to reach each of society’s life milestones the sole focus of so many? We’re taught to graduate high school, do the minimal in college to obtain a degree, find a spouse from a homologous socioeconomic background, have children, and work a singular position for the rest of our life until our bodies are too frail to continue. Our vision becomes foggy. We can see where we want ourselves to be, but we fail to acknowledge the happenings in the lives of others. Today we lack experience, because society predetermines our experiences for us. We lack a desire to grow, because our growth is quantified by standardized test scores. We lack courage, because we are drilled that taking alternative paths is treacherous. And in result of that, we’re faced with oblivion.
Before this year, I too was oblivious. My world view stretched as far as Western Europe and my sole focus was to survive the monotony of high school. I knew there had to be more, I just wasn't sure where to look. Then I came to Indonesia. From being thrown into an alternative language, a peculiar climate, and a family who shares a religion and customs contrasting significantly from my own, this experience has opened my eyes in ways that I never would have imagined. My personal resilience, my ego, my beliefs, all have been completely pushed to the brink and back. And yet, I’m hooked. Each day as I hold conversations with women running food stalls or play with the children that flock to me, I realize just how aware of myself, and more importantly, the world around me, that I have become.
Empathy. Compassion. Love. Knowledge. So many of these things are lacking in today's world. I urge the young people, and the old people, the engineers, the doctors, the teachers, the students, the men, the women, and everyone in between- explore more. Explore across the ocean in Namibia or New Zealand. Explore in your own neighborhood, and talk to the single father across the street. Explore science text books, classic literature, and Time magazine. Explore with language, with spirituality, with food, with nature. Break free from the wrath of oblivion, and explore. I promise it's worth it.