There was a mystery. A mystery that made my voice tremble slightly as the words escaped my tongue. The lines, proud and elegant, hang heavily in the silent air. There was no sound, except for the unconsciously passionate voice of the seven-year-old girl who stood alone on the stage. I was one-on-one with that mystery, with the words full of meaning that I was not yet able to comprehend. There was something in the melody of Shevchenkos Zapovit that made me hold my breath until finishing the very last line.
I had yet to taste the passion of these lines for many times before arriving at their meaning. I had yet to travel many roads of the world to comprehend with my mind what I have felt with my soul as a little girl. The stirring, indiscernible feeling of the sudden revelation had yet to become a firm sense of belonging and purpose.
The magic of the lines was simple they spoke of who I am. Their voice was a voice of a proud and sad nation of the vast steppes of Ukraine. A passionate song of the nation that has lived through the times of greatest repression and sorrow and that has yet to live through many changes and challenges. And in every line of that song there was a revelation.
It was a song of energy and passion. It spoke with a voice of a person who gave his life for the dream of a free and independent Ukraine, who gave his heart to its people and gave the fire of his genius to its leaders. It spoke with a voice of Taras Shevchenko, a poet and a leader who has lived through the coldness of prison and exile with determination, with passion, with energy that has made him the singer of Ukrainian nation, whose strong voice has guided people of great courage and ability as they stood for the Ukrainian dream of freedom. Today, its voice calls to me.
It calls to build, to change, and to create. It calls for accomplishment, but not for the kind of accomplishment that is beneficiary only for an individual. Rather, it calls for accomplishment that would make a difference for the sad and proud people of my nation. I hear my own determination in its lines, my own energy, and the courage I have started to feel within myself. This courage is the courage to stand up and to act, to bring up the country of that sad and proud nation. The courage that comes from a belief in myself as a person who is capable of making a difference. A person who can build and change. Who can accomplish.
It was also a song of great endurance. It called to the nation even in the times of hardest repression, when Ukrainian language was prohibited, when the nationalists were executed and imprisoned. It called to the scientists that were sent to the cold vastness of Siberia for acknowledging their Ukrainian heritage. It calls to me today to overcome any adversity with strength and wisdom akin to that of my nation, to endure any hardship, to view any setback as a way to grow in my determination and strengthen my spirit. It taught me the perseverance that has helped me to come through the hardest challenges of this life.
And it was a song of pride. Pride that I have understood only after traveling to many corners of the world. Pride that required the kind of inner growth that allows looking past the poverty into the very soul of the nation, into the very hearts of the people to see the potential of a truly magnificent scope. It spoke with my deep pride with my heritage; it endowed me with a rich sense of who I am. Its lines taught me to cherish my culture and the beauty of my land.
And, most of all, it was a song of great optimism. A song of deep belief, of hope. That very hope has kindled the hearts of the generations of the brightest Ukrainian minds that fought for the dream of freedom. That very optimism has never left me in my life, even when I had to, as my nation did, come through challenges that seemed almost impossible to come through. It is not just a belief in miracle. Rather, it is a deep belief in my strength, in my potential. It is a belief in what one can accomplish when he puts together all of his will and determination, all of his passion.
It is a song that sings of why the streets of Kiev are orange today. It celebrates the very qualities of Ukrainian spirit that made the enemies and adversaries of this nation wonder at its strength and perseverance and dread its potential.
Today, its words are especially meaningful for me. As the Orange Revolution gathers millions of people on the streets of Kiev, these lines call for my duty as a Ukrainian. Many centuries from the moment when his spirit first kindled the hearts of the people, Shevchenkos voice still calls to the nation to commit everything we have for the building of a new country. A country, where every voice is heard, where there is no place for corruption. A country of freedom.
It calls to me, as I make the decision to commit myself to the building of this country. To live my life for the nation that has preserved through inhuman suffering an unbelievable humanity. For the nation, that has finally started to find its voice, that has made the first step on the long road to the freedom and the pursuit of happiness.
My search of purpose did not end with the words of Zapovit. These words are just the beginning of my lifelong journey. As I prepare myself to make the first step on the road that my nation has taken, I bear these lines in my heart. One day, I know, I will step forward to lead these proud people through the times of hardship and joy to freedom. Here I am, standing at the edge, looking forward to the journey of my life with hope, with belief, and, most of all, with great optimism.
<li>“The Testament” (Ukr.)</li>