To be Human is to Grow

Written by Nomanna Mavata, from Durban, South Africa. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

To breath and not actually live is a sin to all those who never had the chance to live as long as us.

Many people are afraid of death but fail to understand that being stationary in life and not being more than what you were yesterday is worse than death. It is robbing yourself and the world around you from the opportunity to discover what it means to be human. When we attempt to link a certain definition to what you are today in respect to what you will be in the future, is like attempting to define the undefinable. What you are today is not what you will be tomorrow, and if it is then you have not truly lived.

The world is littered with examples of this, and one can also see them as miniature evolutions that occur in a span of a person’s life-time. If I could capture the beautiful stories that have been woven into the universe, both big and small, I would do so without hesitation, just to prove that humanity is and can be more than their faults. Even though I can’t write an infinite story, I can serve anyone reading this a taste of those who chose to evolve and further embrace what it is to be truly human.  The following examples are just samples that you can savour before your own contribution into a growing humanity.

Her name is Jasmin Osuku. The world called her black, African, female but she chose to call herself human. You see when she stripped away the tags, the labels, she found out that there is indeed an infinite amount of opportunities to find different versions of herself, and share them with the world. It was like a rebirth, where her ancestors from the colonist to the African tribal people, called to her. She didn’t feel divided, instead she felt like somehow, she was a part of everything. Not just segments of life but she was a beautiful example of a race that chose to change and be better than the past and openly embrace the future. It provided freedom to be more than what she was, to make mistakes and to learn from them. The girl was embracing pushing the boundaries that society tried to establish, and it was as simple as holding a light conversation with him over a cup of coffee. The problem would have been that his forefathers had her forefathers in chains, his ancestors took her people’s land but in all honesty,  he wasn’t them. He was painted in white and she in brown, yet their eyes didn’t see colour but saw another human being that fascinated them. If she was the same as yesterday she would have thrown the cup of coffee, scorching hot in anger and yelled “racist” at him. If he was the same as yesterday he would have never noticed the natural beauty glowing from her earthly skin, instead he would have seen someone less than him, someone animalistic, someone black. Regardless of this they put those preconceived ideas aside, their souls brushed against each other as if saying,

“Sorry for those who hurt you, can you allow me to know you? Even if it is just a part of you.”

They both accepted to forgive a past that never physically included them, but it did include fragments of them. Their humorous banters echo through the coffee shop, they broke down the invisible line of unspoken words. The unconsciously separated coffee shop stared a little longer at the two seemingly contrasting pair. That natural flow of conversation and eyes that lingered a second too long did something to the coffee shop’s observers. Some of those on-lookers held a bitter distaste of a past that they chose to cling on to, some raised an eyebrow ever so gently and then there were those who saw something beautiful emerging, and in that moment they realised love, joy and peace is also colourblind.  Of course the two were blind to anything around them, their attention just gravitated towards each other, while they thanked the stars for not losing these beautiful moments because of pride and past misconceptions.

You see, yesterday they knew themselves as black and white, superior and inferior. Those definitions of self became nothing more than a memory that they were both happy to have grown up from. Now after twenty cups of coffees, five summers together he finally got the courage to kneel on one knee and ask her to be his wife. Still blind to colour but open to her character and kind nature, he thanked the heavens for the chance to be more than what his forefathers were.

His name is Tim Bells and he is the man who lives down the street on 8th avenue. The one with the beautiful warm home, lovely daughter and caring wife. He is also the same Tim who spent five years in jail for selling drugs. Born to an abusive father and a mother who drowned her worries in crack, he found himself defined by the life he was born into. He lived in a mouldy apartment, slept almost every night hungry and he found refuge in the neighbourhood’s gang.  A high school dropout and a criminal with a temper, he realised going to prison gave him time to reflect.  After he left he wanted to be better than his past. He wanted to love and be loved, he wanted a warm home that he always dreamt of as a kid. He wanted to be the father and husband his own father failed to be, he wanted to become a better version of himself and he did. After years of hardship and fighting his own demons, he finally received something better than what he had dreamt of.  The moments first came when the woman he fell in love with agreed to be his wife. She was ever so gentle and kind that he was perplexed as to why an angel would want to be with a man battered and bruised with a stained past that even the heavens frown at. When she saw the turmoil in his beautiful eyes she told him these simple words,

“I never fell in love with the man you were years ago, I fell in love with the man you pushed to become, a man who never gave up on trying to become better, so I know you won’t give up on me or us or our family someday”.  Another moment came in when his six year old daughter smiled up at him and said,

“Daddy, I want to find someone who will love me the way you love Mommy and I.”

He shamelessly let a tear slip and held his beautiful daughter tighter, and his eyes found his beautiful wife who was smiling warmly at them. He never once regretted his choice to be a better man.

At the end of the day who you were won’t matter, but what does matter is the efforts you put into becoming better than who you were yesterday.  It is resisting the urge to be afraid of change and instead embracing the beauty of being human with all its flaws. Being human isn’t being rigid and unchanging or embodying past constricting ideologies. It is instead evolving so that when death finally finds you, he finds you a better version than what you were before, majestic, immaculate and forever growing.

*******all characters are fictional but inspired by real people

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