How To Save The World

It is past midnight and I am drinking coffee. Part of me reassures myself that since I bought the coffee at a Korean supermarket and can’t read the foreign words on the label, there is a 50 percent chance that it is actually decaf, but the more sensible part of me realizes that I have probably just cost myself several hours of sleep. Upon this realization, I take out my contacts, put on my glasses, and prepare myself for a night of sad music and sadder musings.

Like any other young person with an inkling of hope to amount to something in life, I am plagued with the dilemma of what to do with my future. Now I know that I am only one out of 7 billion people who exist on this planet, but in kindergarten I was taught that it only takes one person to make a difference. And since they correctly taught me how to count double-digit numbers, list the days of the week, and spell the months in a year, I choose to believe them on this matter as well. But what must I do to make a difference?

I used to (and still do) wonder about what job to pursue after college, where to live, what my life goal should be. But maybe it’s not career paths or huge life decisions that ultimately change the world. Doctors save lives, of course, scientists help us understand the world better, businessmen turn ideas into products, the media keeps societies connected. But maybe the secret to making your mark on the world is that the real magic occurs in more subtle ways. In the words of Emily Dickinson:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Maybe I am simply setting the bar low for myself for fear of failure and disappointment, but maybe I don’t need to prevent an apocalypse, discover how to harness nuclear energy, or run for presidency in order to do good in this world. What I do need to do is make my own small contributions whenever I can, starting right now, with no less heart and passion than if I was indeed saving the whole world. And if everyone did this, each in his or her own magical way, we might just live to see the world become what we always dreamed it would be.

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