Leap Day 2024

unrecognizable happy people jumping in sunset

Today is Leap Day 2024, that 29th day of February that comes but every four years. With these extra 24 hours I wish to spend the majority of them reaching into the blogosphere. I wish to seek what gems still remain beneath the shallow veneer of self-promotion, hollow AI generated fluff, and religious extremism. 

I find myself nestled in a contemplative enclave here in rural Vermont, far removed from the cacophony of modern life’s relentless pace. This bonus day offers me a special opportunity to pause. I wish that the world would take a chance to hold its breath for just a few moments, too. But while I know that it won’t, I still choose to linger here, in the threshold between what was and what could be. 

This day I dedicate not to the physical endeavors that often demand our attention, but to a journey inward and through the digital expanse in search of meaning, connection, and perhaps, a glimpse of hope. With its boundless potential for enlightenment and unity, the digital age has paradoxically ensnared us in a web of disenchantment. Our screens, once windows to the world, now often reflect back a distorted image, marred by the shadows of despair, division, and superficiality. 

Yet, amidst this digital deluge, I remain a steadfast seeker, sifting through the electronic ether for those rare sparks of genuine human spirit and creativity that have the power to illuminate the dark. Today, my search led me to a beacon of youthful brilliance — a blog penned by a foreign exchange student from California whose prose dances with the kind of beauty and depth that belies her years. Her words, imbued with the raw, unfiltered essence of her current experiences, resonate with a clarity and insight that I, even in my midlife years, find both humbling and inspiring. 

This young lady writes not just to fill a void but to transcend it, crafting narratives that bridge divides, challenge conventions. She invites her readers into a world where empathy and understanding reign supreme. It’s some of the most beautiful writing i’ve seen from a teenager in a very long time; I couldn’t have been a fraction of the writer she is right now when i was her age!

Encountering her work amidst the mediocrity and malaise that often pervades the digital world is a gentle reminder of the enduring power of storytelling. Even in our era of disillusionment, where cynicism has become a guard against the ceaseless tide of global crises and existential threats, there remains a belief in the potential for art to enact change and stir souls for the better.

Young scribes like her give me hope for the youth of the nation, the nation of humanity free of political borders and arbitrary racial and cultural divides. It’s comforting to me to see that there are still youth bravely daring to become worldly folks with evolved perspectives. She embodies the promise of a future unbound by the arbitrary lines that have long divided us. In her voice, I hear the echo of a generation poised to inherit a world fraught with challenges, but armed with the empathy, creativity, and resilience needed to confront them. Her willingness to explore, to question, and to open her heart to the vastness of human culture and experience is a beacon of hope in a world too often shrouded in darkness.

As I reflect on her words and the impact they’ve had on me, I’m reminded of my own creative journey. The path has been fraught with self-doubt, with countless moments spent grappling with the question of whether my voice, my art, could ever truly make a difference in a world seemingly growing increasingly indifferent to the musings of contemplative souls. Yet, ironically, it’s in the act of creation itself, which must be treated as a relentless pursuit of beauty and truth, that I find some answers.

I myself no longer have the bravery to venture out into the international waters, especially as one who doesn’t fit the almighty gender binary. My travels have been fraught with hateful treatment and am often forced to turn back out of fear of being stranded. Until the world calms down, of which I have little hope of occurring any time soon, all i have left to do in these homebound years is to offer my aged, possibly somewhat fermented perspective. 

After all, art has the power to transcend boundaries, to challenge the status quo, and to kindle the flames of hope and change. It’s the prime vessel for our collective dreams, fears, and aspirations, a mirror reflecting the best and worst of what it means to be human. With this realization, I find a renewed sense of purpose. Rather than see these coming dark times as a time of retreat, I must regard them as an opportunity to contribute to the chorus of voices seeking to illuminate the darkness, to offer my own thoughts in the hope that it might inspire others to share their own.

So, on this rare Leap Day, I’m reminded that Time, though often perceived as our adversary, also grants us moments of grace to reflect on the paths we choose to tread. In these extra hours, I choose to set my sights on making an impact, however small, through my creative endeavors. I must wholeheartedly believe in the potential for storytelling to heal, to unite, and to inspire. Above all, I must choose to hold onto the stubborn undercurrent of hope that, even in the face of overwhelming odds, we can light a path forward together.

~ Amelia Desertsong, February 29, 2024

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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