So far this year I haven’t been as productive as I would like, but I think I’m making progress despite having had a setback for a couple of weeks in late January and early February. I had the worst flu of my life so far, and honestly didn’t think I’d make it. Looking back I realize how dramatic I’m being, but at the time, when my fever was 104 degrees Fahrenheit and not showing signs of going down, well, at that moment, I thought I was dying. In the throes of my fever, I saw my life before me and I didn’t like what I saw, I realized how much time I had squandered. I feared that if I died at that moment I would die a completely unsatisfied person. I asked myself, what had I done with my time on Earth? What was the point of it all?
I vowed that if I pulled through my illness that I would make sure to be productive everyday. That I
would make everyday count. That I would stop making excuses for myself and that I would try to live to my fullest potential. While I was recovering I came across the story of a young man from Uganda who was orphaned at a very young age and had to live with an uncle who used him as a human scarecrow, until one day he ran away from home to an orphanage. From there he was able to make his way, through a non-profit organization, to America, where he has gone on to become a very successful entrepreneur. His name is Christopher Ategeka,and he was on a Reddit AMA and he had this to say about his motivation:
“If you don’t know your passion; dig deep within—its in there. Because with passion comes determination and hard work and the desire to get to the top.”
I read Ategeka’s story while I was still pretty sick with the flu and feeling vulnerable, but even now, weeks later his story about determination and courage still move me. His passion for life, for living, for learning, for sharing, it’s inspiring! And it makes me reflect on all the things I take for granted, not to mention the people and the opportunities that I’ve missed.
Sometimes I forget that the comfortable suburban home I live in is worlds away from where my life began, in a charity hospital in Santa Ana, El Salvador. My early years were not as extreme as Christopher Ategeka’s but there’s a lot that I can relate to with him: I, too was born into a war-torn country, into poverty. My parents left my sisters and I with my grandparents when I was eighteen months old, and by the time I was five was fleeing to the USA, luckily with my grandmother and two sisters. Life hasn’t been easy for me, but it can be easy to forget past difficulties and challenges when you have a comfortable life.
This recent break from poverty and adversity has been one the most fortunate things that has ever happened to me and I know there’s an opportunity here to grow, as a person and as an artist. For the time being I don’t have to worry about if I’m going to make the rent, or if my old shitty car was going to start in the morning, and countless other things that kept me up at night when I was a single mother. For once in my life I have the opportunity to better myself and learn some discipline, and I don’t want to waste it! I want my time here to count.
It’s already March, almost one year since I dropped out of the Graphic Design program that I worked so hard to get in to. I haven’t had a job since July of 2011. You’d think by now I’d have enough pieces for a show or for an updated portfolio, but sadly I don’t. I haven’t even read any novels so far this year! But all this is changing. I haven’t had any alcohol since December 31st and already my mind is feeling a little less foggy. Things are coming into better focus and I am optimistic that by the end of this year I will have accomplished a thing or two on my “to-do” list.