“Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
Toulouse, France, 11th of December 2020
Dear 100 years old Mad,
Today we are celebrating our 40th birthday. And this article is the 60th I am writing, for 60 consecutive weeks. So as 40 adding to 60 is 100, there you are, you lucky 100 years old (yo) me.
As we are entering the end of this 4th decade, I decided to start this chain. I hope that all of us, from the 50th, the 60th, the 70th, the 80th, and the 90th will keep this letter up to date, updating it. If they don’t, well at least, I did. Be kind to them. They even might not make it after all.
If you are blind, I hope you have recorded an audio version of this letter and that your hearing aids are fully charged.
If you are deaf, I hope that you have the latest implant of eyes or a screen bigger than your heart.
If you are blind and deaf, I hope that you learned how to read Braille, first. Second, you better have carved this letter in Braille in the wall behind you, where you are leaning right now.
If you happen to not be part of this world anymore, I am sorry for our loss. Yet as one of my current colleagues at work, Pierre V., says: “Shit happens.” I am sure that we enjoyed the ride.
Let’s jump right to it.
30–39 yo (2011–2020), THE AWAKENING DECADE — We are in 2020. This year is the inflection point for the trajectory of Human kind since the end of World War II, because of Covid-19.
2012 — Yes we did it. We are hired in the company of our dream, Airbus. We have the magic blue badge that we put proudly around our neck as if we won the Olympic gold medal. We learned that patience is power. And it was definitely not the end of the world, despite the 2012 phenomenon
2017 — We got married. We finally found the courage to let go of the dogma of religion, race, and social pressure to choose the person with whom we want to share our life. It took us a lot of tries, a lot of broken hearts, tears of loneliness, and anger that finally became tears of joy on that 2nd of September.
2019 — We started the year with the blessing of fatherhood. On that 28th of January, Noah, Ali was a game-changer for us. Now it is no more just about us. We have to care for him, protect him, and build a safe and authentic environment around him where he can develop himself. Most importantly, we learned how to change diapers.
20–29 yo (2001–2010), THE METAMORPHOSIS DECADE — We just started settling in this new country.
2001 — New city, new country, new challenges. Hopefully, we can speak French. As the world is mourning the victims of 9/11, we are trying to find our spot. We will spend 3 long and challenging years in Perpignan, France. Hopefully, we would meet amazing people during the weekends, outside of the boarding school.
2003 — We just got our life back after 3 years of Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles in Perpignan. We are in Toulouse, France, the pink city. We can focus on our aerospace engineering studies at ISAE. In Perpignan, we learned hard work. In Toulouse, we will learn how to work smart.
2008 — We got our engineering diploma and our first job. We were the last to get one from all our peers that year. Being a foreign student in France is tough. Hopefully, we got the Holy Graal, the French passport that same year. No more going to the prefecture and being treated like shit, just because we were not born here.
10–19 yo (1991–2000), THE FOLLOWER DECADE — We spend that decade trying to blend in as a teenager, growing up in Dakar, Senegal.
1993 — We start to taste freedom by going to middle school to Collège Lamine Guèye, far from our home at Sicap Liberté 5. We started taking the bus and spending the whole day downtown Dakar, a public school in a very wealthy neighborhood. It was a first glance at the gap in wealth that we were surrounded by.
1997 — Now we are at high school at Lycée Lamine Guèye. We almost went rogue on being a member of Wahhabism, an ultra-conservative branch of Islam. We were young and prone to all sorts of influences. We managed to stay a Tijaniyya, more in line with our own values for Téranga (Hospitality) in Senegal.
2000 — We got our baccalauréat, a scholarship from the Senegalese government, and a permit to fly to France. We got malaria during that summer and recovered one week before taking the plane the first time to Paris, France. We knew what we were leaving. We had no clue what to expect. We packed some hope, a lot of excitement, and a sprinkle of joy in our backpack to Perpignan, France.
00–09 yo (1980–1990), THE INNOCENCE DECADE — We don’t remember that much. Yet the remaining memories are vivid.
1980 — That day of 11th of December, a Thursday, we are in. We entered a new world with a cry. We were welcomed at Centre Hospitalier Abass Ndao, in Dakar Senegal. We would spend our first 3 years in Dakar, Senegal.
1983 — We would be involved in a traffic accident in our journey to Korbé, Guinea Conakry. Néné, our mother, would wear the scars of that event on her face her whole life. Hopefully, we were protected by a higher power and the protective love of Néné and not injured.
1987 — We came back to Dakar, Senegal from Korbé, Guinea Conakry. Indeed it was time for us to go to elementary school at Collège Notre Dame Du Liban. As a Muslim boy, we would spend our first defining moments in a private catholic school. This was the root of our core value of accepting differences in people.
THE ROAD SO FAR — Today as we are celebrating our 40th birthday, I just want to let you know I am in a great moment of our life. I have learned to value the present moment. I still want to get more money, even if I am not always sure that it will really contribute to our journey on this Earth. I am doing our 9 to 5 to put food on the table. I am also starting to build for us some impact in this world by paying it forward as other people did for me.
I will make mistakes, for sure. I hope that by the time this letter reaches you, those mistakes will only be the learning lessons that built you a life worth remembering.
With a lot of love and kindness,
The 40 years old Mad you,
PS1: Happy 100th Birthday in advance!
PS2: We are expecting our second baby boy in January 2021!
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You can read my previous article on Elevate your game and get shit done. Welcome to your 4 Dimensions. Ghostbusters!