The news of the launch of the climate clock greeted me one morning in 2015 as I was scrolling on my iPad.
We had just talked about our dream careers in class the previous day—I had a big smile on my face as I ardently discussed how much I wanted to become a scientist, or a doctor, possibly even both.
But as I stared at my screen, the gap between my eyebrows narrowed. Suddenly, my hopes and dreams vanished into thin air as I was hit with the realization that I probably wouldn’t have enough time to even pursue a career.
My brain was haunted by the thought of never being able to achieve anything ever—it was a feeling that swallowed me whole. Sylvia Plath wrote, “I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.”
The quote never resonated with me more. My potential entailed that I had a future, but it seemed as if the future would only be a short-lived few years before the world ended.Each New Year’s celebration felt like an added limb to hangman. The years went by and the sand in the Earth’s hourglass dauntingly descended to the lower chamber. I caught a glance of this hourglass every time I saw older people advance in their professions and my stomach churned with the feeling that there is a chance I would never get to live like them. I lived with what felt like the ticktocking of a time bomb.
I was regularly assigned essay topics about the climate crisis for my writing training. My frustration grew as I checked the environment tab of news sites each night to matterload for my upcoming competitions, scanning through news stories about world leaders and supposed changemakers, not at all fazed or perturbed by the deteriorating world around them. Why weren’t they taking action? Why were they merely ignoring the fact that entire ecosystems could crumble at any minute?
My handwriting progressively started to resemble chicken scratches as I passionately proposed solutions to environmental problems in response to an essay prompt, except it wasn’t just an essay prompt to me anymore: my future danced in the hands of the enablers sitting prettily on their thrones, their very hands tossing my future aside to make room on their palms for their riches. I soaked in the sun that felt hotter that day, though it was in the middle of July, after sitting in an air-conditioned room for two hours.I dreamed up solutions and technological advancements, though my essay topics called for simple student solutions such as recycling and planting trees. Learning at a young age that I most likely wouldn’t be able to do much with my actions to help the Earth was a difficult reality to accept. It was impossible for me to singlehandedly campaign against multimillion-dollar corporations that destroyed our Earth; it was impractical for most people to commit to an eco-friendly sustainable lifestyle with a hefty price tag. Though I did know one thing, words have power.
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity… Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble,” said Yehuda Berg.
I came across that quote as I browsed for an essay for school and the realization hit me at full speed: my words have the opportunity to create a wave, a long-standing echo, the chance to change the course of action for years to come (it’s such a heavy responsibility to place onto an essay, there’s a chance at least!), hence the paragraphs.