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Only 199 years ago

Maria Rodriguez's picture

Lately I have been regaining the pleasure to read. I don’t know about you, but I had to read so much in high school and college that it slowly became just a task, not something I enjoyed anymore. Thank God that’s changing! Now I am specially enjoying historic novels, chronicles and biographies of people who have achieved great impact on humankind, and personal growth books.

For the past month or so I’ve been reading The Power of Now, a very interesting book that one of my best friends gave me as a gift almost a year ago. When he gave it to me, I started to read it almost immediately, but something was off. I thought that either I was not prepared for it or that book was not good at all! I felt it was boring and heavy. I decided I would put it away and start reading something else. Many books and life situations afterwards, I was talking with my friend about this book the other day and I realized that maybe it was a good time to start reading it again. And I was right.

This book is really something else. It talks about how we always unconsciously either live in the past or the future in our heads, but we’re not actually present in our lives, we don’t fully live in the now. The past should be useful to learn from, and the future to plan for, but one should never dwell on them. I found this reflection quite relevant today, July 20th, the 199th anniversary of Colombia’s declaration of independence. The book and the independence declaration anniversary got me thinking about how most countries can resemble human beings that live in the past and the future, but most of the time forget about the now.

A year ago Colombian people were marching to celebrate a great victory. After a long time of no strong manifestations (don’t get me wrong, there are usually a lot of protests in Colombia, but most of them are not very useful), 2008 marked our history as the year when Colombians finally woke up and started to stand up for our rights. No más (no more) was our shout and afterwards, on July 20th, we were celebrating because we had obtained a big victory thanks to our awakening (the peaceful rescue of 15 people that had been held hostage by FARC for many years), kind of similar to the one obtained by our fellow countrymen and women of 1810. Now that I think about it, during those days Colombia was actually living its now. I hope I can communicate at least some of that liveliness in this video and picture I took that day.

The phrase in the picture translates to “For your honor and courage, thank you,” and it’s dedicated to the National Army to thank them for the mentioned rescue.

People who make a difference are living in the now. Are you living in the now? Are you seizing the day? Is Carpe Diem your motto? Especially us, the world’s youth, should live in the now. We should enjoy the present and build strong foundations for our lives.

As a young country—like many countries in America (Northern, Central and Southern), Africa and Oceania—Colombia is today celebrating “only” 199 years of having made the decision to become independent. But the most important part of this celebration is not what we have achieved, but what we ARE achieving now. The same thing applies to us youth. The most important thing is not what has happened to us, it’s not what we’re going to do or achieve in the future either. The most important thing is that we’re changing the world today, not yesterday, not tomorrow… today.