By Alex Andy Phuong

       For the longest time, I viewed life with an existential perspective as I previously believed that life simply has no meaning.  Lost and confused, I doubted the possibility that there is a reason for why I live.  However, the simple act of curiosity helped me experience what I consider the ultimate awakening.  I now empathize with Edna Pontellier, the heroine of Kate Chopin’s classic novella The Awakening, as I transcended from an ordinary existence to the realization that there truly is, perhaps, a greater purpose to life after all.   I, too, am awakened, because I am now free from my past turmoil.  It may have taken me ten years to realize my full potential and value, but at least I now know what it is like to be free.             
            On one very special day, I started the day off with the usual mentality that I have to eat breakfast and clean up last night’s dishes.  After that, I went onto YouTube to listen to music.  While looking at the suggested videos, I came across a music video by a singer named Josh Groban.  I clicked on the video, and listened to a few of his songs.  I then started playing an entire playlist that contained all of his songs.  As time passed, I finally watched the video that changed my entire outlook on life forever.  I was called, “You are loved (Don’t Give Up).”  As I listened to the beautiful lyrics and watched the uplifting music video, I realized that there is beauty in life after all.
            This song truly changed my entire perspective on the world.  While listening to Josh Groban’s song, as well as watching other music videos in the YouTube playlist, I felt as if I experienced a spiritual awakening.  I finally understand that everyone in the world has struggles, and that no person in the world will ever be perfect as we all struggle to find our place in this world.  Now that I am blessed with the knowledge that reflects universal needs of every living person, I feel that I am truly, and finally, awakened.
            After listening to such uplifting music, I went to my local library to browse through books.  After looking through a shelf that contained new library books, I checked out 20,000 Days and Counting.  The book itself is really short, and only took one hour to read.  After I finished it, I became even more edified as I understand the value of every waking moment of my life.  I now aspire to make every day in my life count.  I know that I can only live once, but I now feel that I have the power to live life to its fullest until the end of my days.  Rather than staying passive about what I can do for this world, I am finally taking action to live up to the challenge of making the rest of my life valuable and meaningful with an enduring legacy that will impact everyone in my life.
            Previously, I had been stuck in darkness because negative thinking limited my thoughts clouded my judgment.  I had issues with beating myself up emotionally with regrets about actions that happened many years ago.  Although I cannot change the past, all I can do now is learn from it, and strive for a better tomorrow.  I also feel that I am an example of living proof that the ideas in Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech are alive and well.  All I can say now is that I finally lived up to his dream.  He dreamed of freedom that will reign across the land.  My deepest wish for everyone else in the world is that they will one day be blessed with the knowledge that I now possess.  I hope to bestow such knowledge onto others, and spread this uplifting learning experience to people struggling for a sense of meaning.  For me, I will now, and forevermore, say that I am, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I am free at last.”


Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015.  He was a former Statement Magazine editor who currently writes about literature, film, and culture.  He has written film reviews for more than one hundred motion pictures for MovieBoozer, and his writing has appeared both online and in print.  Alex is a writer who dares to support the ones who pursue their dreams.

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