You may never know what type of impact your stories can have on a person…, that is off course, until you write or share them.
Writing has the capability to place a timeless stamp on particular ideals or to dictate whether future generations prosper or perish. It is no coincidence that ideas written by Plato, Aristotle, Moses, and other influential authors still influence how we live our lives on a daily basis. We are currently witnessing a critically acclaimed era where people are awakening to many ideas that have been imposed on us, which have partially contributed to the demise and plight of oppressed people. Just because a fallacious ideal is relentlessly propagated, does not make it any more legitimate. A truth whether contaminated or authentic has the same power to affect people: it is in a way, like a double-entendre. Growing up, I always wondered on why I did not know many black authors or was not introduced to any in the school curriculum. It was a rather vexing thought, did our stories not matter, or were our ideas not worthy? I persistently roamed around these perplexing questions, until my senior year, we were required to read “All Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, a prolific writer from Nigeria. After reading that book, my attitude towards writing completely changed. I had read from the perspective of an oppressed author who rose to the challenge of freeing himself from his mental shackles and embracing his purpose to create a beautiful piece of art pertaining to the colonial era. Consequently, my final research paper in that literature class was regarding African Literature.
Storytelling has always been, and still is a staple of the African culture. That is how our heritage was primarily passed on down to future generations. There is an old proverb that says, “when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground”. That is because knowledge was transmitted in this manner, to ensure the sustainability and prosperity of future generations. I am wholeheartedly convinced that the lack of written records about Black heritage from Black writers, has largely contributed to the current circumstances we are living in. If you don’t know where you come from, you won’t fully know or understand where you’re headed to. In a way, this is my call to action to my peers and the Diaspora community to start writing our stories, we owe it to future generations to remind them of our inherent greatness, to remind them that black is beauty, and to reignite a sense of unity and pride through our stories and experiences. As D-Smoke eloquently put it:
If you swung back when faced with a challenge
That’s meant to break you, and balanced scales
You ain’t average..
So, my question is: why not write your experiences for the next one that may find delight, inspiration, or hope amidst your successes and failures? These are three overlooked, yet significant benefits of writing:
§ Healing: studies have shown that writing has the power to induce a release of dopamine in a similar manner as rewarding activities such as running or listening to music. Writing provides an introspective platform for an individual to tackle his past trauma or to find solutions to his problems. The act of transferring unwanted thoughts or mental clutter on a piece of paper helps us remember that we are not our thoughts, which consequently paves a way to properly destress and more importantly attain self-acceptance.
§ Empowering: reading books from prominent black authors and seeing how they unapologetically and eloquently conveyed their convictions, helped me to understand that my ideas mattered too. More importantly, it re-awakened my inherent greatness, because at that moment, I understood that if they could do it, so could I, and the next child who grew up in harsh upbringings would need to know that as well at some point in his life: that his soul is majestic.
§ Purpose: true power lies in the knowledge of one’s purpose. Once a person understands why he is alive, a liberating paradigm shift happens within him. It is an indescribable feeling, one that embarks him on a journey of self-discovery and eventually self-actualization. Ask any authentic artist, and I am sure they would all testify to this: that the most gratifying they feel is not through the fame or the notoriety of their works, but rather witnessing the impact their work had on another human soul, because at the end of the day we are much more alike than we reluctantly admit it.
Life on The Narrow Path…