“Spark” was the topic of the speech delivered by one 15/16 year old boy yesterday, at the Inter School Best Speaker Contest organized by the University of Kelaniya. Apart from being a highly enthusiastic orator who seems to know how to get a crowd going, and one who was not afraid to use the stage to the maximum, this boy was an embodiment of the hopeful explorer we all were at that age – eager to get out there and conquer the world.

The speech was crafted around the “spark” that we all have inside of us, which gives us life, makes us live. The spark diminishes in the face of struggles and obstacles if one allows it to. The speaker urged the audience to keep their spark alive. He made one statement in his speech that resounded with me – probably not in the way he intended. He said, “When I look at you, I see sparks. But when I look at old people, I don’t see it. Why? Because they have let their spark die”.

“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

– John Green, Looking for Alaska

I know my spark is not yet dead. But it has diminished greatly, that I don’t think it is more than an ember right now. I do recall a time when I was full of fire, convinced that I can take on the world and all that comes with it; when I was eager to face the great outdoors and battle the problems that come my way; when I was confident in my conviction that I will emerge victorious without any permanent battle scars to mar my brilliant self. I have no idea what happened to that fire anymore. But I have an inclining that I’ve been walking in the rain for too long too late, and has neglected my umbrella.

The sad part was that when I saw him speak with such passion, when I saw all the kids speaking with such great energy and drive, it reminded me of who I was and what I lost. It was so easy to see the difference in ourselves. While I am not the most complacent person I know, I too have given up my faith and conviction on and of certain things. I do sometimes say “that is how it is. What to do but move on”, whereas ten years back I’d have been full of determination to change it. In attempting to change the world, in attempting to defeat the monsters of the world, I fear that I have fallen into a bottomless lake of disappointment, out of which I am unable to return.

This is not only me though. I have seen many of us lose the passion, the drive we had when we were younger. What made our blood pump furiously through our veins some time ago, now only creates an echo of the blood crashing on the vein-walls. What made our eyes sparkle with excitement before, now only makes us blink a few times before resigning ourselves to the circumstances. I do not believe this is for the lack of trying. I believe this is because we have realized that the problems are much larger, much more intricate and much more complex than we thought of. Add to that the daily drudgery that one has to pull themselves through – be it at home, at work, and the heartbreaks and betrayals one has to smile through. I am grateful that the spark survives in any form at all.

I did learn something from this boy though. He concluded his speech with a reminder not to forget your raincoat. I believe it is high time that I do that. That I talk to myself, immerse myself in the energy that is throbbing in the young ones around us, the belief that one can take on the world if one so wants to. I believe it is time that I feed my ember with passion, attention and above all, self-love, so that it can turn into a spark again. Because the last thing I want is to be one of those adults who have forgotten what it feels like to be young; to dream; to have the conviction that the world is mine to love – that the world will love me in return.

So here’s to rekindling the embers, and glowing with a light that once was so familiar.

Featured image from
Many thanks to the contributor



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