March 3, 2012
So if I could sum up the entire experience and give out some sort of magical advice what would I say? It doesn’t work that way. I probably just learned more about myself than how to inspire others.
So what did I learn?
Let me address the service work first. I basically just learned service is a tricky thing. What is right? What do people need/deserve? How do you do it in a way that is culturally sensitive? Do they even need/want it? How do you evaluate it? Is it arrogant to even think that you have something to offer others? How do you give a “hand up” and not a “hand out”? The girls had no way to understand how many resources went into their continued education, do we try to teach them that? I don’t know these answers. I just know that when you care about another person with no strings attached it changes both people for the better. It connects the human condition and the world becomes a better place. I know all the trips I have done in my life all over the States and the world have had a minimal impact. But I am glad to have done them.
I recently checked out Eat, Pray, Love on my phone from the library and read it in order to better understand a friend of mine who said her life parallels that of the woman who wrote it. It wasn’t exactly my favorite, but I did gain one bit of insight from it. There is a scene where she is in Rome with friends and they were discussing how cities have a certain feel about them. They all have one word that encompasses the general direction of the city. Rome is SEX, Vatican City is POWER, New York is ACHIEVE, Los Angeles is SUCCEED, and so forth. They then applied the same idea to people. We all have something similar, one word that embodies everything you stand for. I have a friend whose word is REVOLUTION and another’s that is EARTH. I would argue my sister’s is COMPASSION. Mine is simple, it is SERVE. I used to be so confused when I thought everyone’s word was SERVE and why they didn’t want to help more. But that is not the nature of this world. I respect the fact that we all have different words. All I have the power to do is live my life as fully as I can in accordance to who I am and what I have. And it has worked out pretty well so far. What is yours?
Another thought I had these last few days was the book “The Giving Tree”. Like the starfish story I wrote about this summer, I used to HATE that book. Arg, it drove me crazy. The boy just takes and takes and takes. What does the tree get out of it? I mean really, c’mon. What is the point of the story? How could you be happy just giving everything you have away, especially when there is no gratitude shown? And the tree is discussed using "her". Is that some sort of misogynistic statement?
I was thinking about coming home. Now I most certainly am not comparing myself to the tree, I still have more than most of the people in the world (house, job, family, etc.). But I am coming home to an empty garage, bank account, and cashed in life insurance policy. I feel like I gave away everything I could down there. I gave my time, money, resources, education, and even my two hoodies. Yet somehow I could not be happier. Interesting. I think I need to grab a beer with that old stump and have a long chat.
So let me finish by saying thanks for coming along for the ride. I wrote this blog to share a little of the world with my community back home, help my dad not miss me so much, and hopefully raise some money for the project. I have four rules of life I live by, but have seriously tossed around the idea of adding a fifth.
#5 If you’ve had the privilege of being there, you now have a responsibility to take others.
I think of all my worldwide travels and how simply unbelievable they have been. It has been an absolute privilege and for most of them I had someone who had already done it lead me. So now it is my turn.
I invite anyone who has read this blog that would like advice or guidance on traveling or serving to email me. If I am able to I will do my best to help in any way I can.
My list of people to thank is far too long to include everyone. So let me just say thank you thank you thank you. I am surrounded by truly incredible people.
I suppose it would be appropriate to end with one final quote, taken from The Two Towers:
It’s like in the great stories. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
What are we holding on to?
There’s some good in this world. And it’s worth fighting for.