When you have the divine pleasure of achieving something for the first time in a long time, the momentum can carry you several places. To the bar, toasting and drinking to your success. Home to tell mom, she will undoubtably agree that you have really aced this one. To the mall to buy yourself a new purse or something??? (I dunno, I’m sure some people do this). Perhaps it carries you straight into the arms of your significant other. And the only other outcome I can think of is that the momentum from a big personal success can lead you onto the next big thing. This is probably in the neighborhood of what is happening to me at this juncture. I flew to India scared out of my tree, and my heart has healed a great deal. I arrived with a heart full of holes and a head full of failure, and that changed entirely, because I am leaving with a heart brimming with love for all the people I’ve met and my mind is full of inspiration, as I’m living this amazing adventure I’d previously only dreamt about. What an absolute privilege to actually get to experience a dream come true. Generally, ‘dreams come true’ do not really play out that often, unless you happen to have won the lottery or you are a Disney princess. I am of course the latter of these two categories and I am happy to report that I have met a prince and he’s buying me a castle and three platinum head crowns. JOKES! I am single as they come!!! And my dreams for romantic bliss are ever changing as I watch friends at home settling on down. It seems like accepting defeat. Which of course is not true at all. But it makes me feel better to say stuff like that. Anyways, going to India was definitely a dream come true. Years ago I was living with some really fun musician types. I thought they were real swell except nobody could wash a dish to save their life. And that’s the first time I ever understood where my mother was coming from all those years.
I remember this one day I skipped my classes and instead spent the day at home, drinking irish coffee and watching documentaries. I watched this one documentary about a lady who went to India and taught photography to kids from brothels and I absolutely cried my eyes out the whole time.
“THAT IS SOOOO COOOOOOOL!!” I thought to myself, COOOOOOOL with seven O’s. Caps lock seven O cool. Teaching little kids in brothels how to take pictures and document their lives??!? I loved it. So as I’m bawling my eyes out one of my roommates came home from work or something and found me in my pathetic state, puddling tears all over our kitchen table and he looked at me with such concern.
“What is going on with you?? Are you okay?? This is not normal. We should take you somewhere.”
“Perfect” I thought. My artsy musician roommate who can’t even do dishes thinks I’m a mess. What am I going to do with myself?
Anyways the point of this story is that there was this dream very very deep in the darkest caverns of my psyche. And when I planned this trip I had almost forgotten about that whole thing. Miraculously, I would actually make it to India and work with kids from slums and I’d teach them and fall absolutely in love with each one and how brilliant they are. Every single day I woke up in India and thought COOOOOOOOOOL with ten O’s. Which is three more O’s than when I was just daydreaming at my kitchen table, for the record. AND I would also get to work with women from the same brothels in Kolkata that this documentary was filmed at, which I hadn’t even planned. I actually didn’t realize it until just now! I had no idea such an experience could ever play out for me. That I’d be able to make jewelry with these women, and spend such amazing times with them and hear the stories of their lives. My whole point is that I had this dream and I thought it was so amazing and out of reach and somehow I found myself doing almost exactly that very dream, praise be to God. Except it was better somehow, because it was real. Life can be such a miracle.
Also, I have now learned about these sorts of projects from the within, working and living out these things each day. And I know the amount of struggle that is faced when you are on the ground trying to get the ball rolling on an amazing dream like that. I find it remarkable that some people are able to pursue something so impossibly elusive. I am not nearly that brave, which is why I think it is so admirable. Some people feel so strongly that God wants them to do something, so they sell everything and follow that dream. That is unbelievably selfless and beautiful, but I think it gets glorified too much maybe. That is not necessarily the path for every individual that claims to know Christ. Every life is different and everyone has their part to play. That degree of devotion, if applied to even the most mundane life, is what it takes to effect the world around you. I don’t think everyone should pack up and move to India. I hope more people do that, based on what I’ve witnessed, but I don’t think everyone should. However, I am adamant that people should live more like Christ. Especially Christian people for goodness sake. We should be compelled to effect the world around for good. We should be inspired not based solely on our location but by this consuming desire to see the world around us effected positively. And it should be so infectious that it spills out of us everywhere we go. We do, afterall, claim to know this miraculous God who defeated death and who walked on water.
Each of us, right now, can be like Jesus to the people around us. Even if you happen to be reading this and you don’t really agree with religion and you don’t want any part of it, you should still want to BE like Jesus. Simply because he was this stunningly beautiful example of love and universal acceptance in a hierarchical, feudal, sexist, racist society. Jesus spent his time with ‘urchins’ and was publicly scorned for it. Jesus hated religious nonsense and big temples and empty speeches. And Jesus cared deeply for each life that he touched, and his love changed oceans of people. I want this kind of love to spill out to everyone I encounter too.
Can you imagine, watching those positive effects everywhere you look? Knowing, intimately the difficulties in the lives of your friends and family and then watching all those things melt away and change for the better. I’d imagine that this is everyone’s dream. Dreams can become reality, I promise that my life attests to this, and I praise God for what he has done with my little life, and how my craziest dreams haven’t been too big for him. Dream that big dream to change the world around you, and ask God to help you make that dream a reality, and things will change.
I have always hated small talk. Because it is kind of pointless, and I find it deeply uninteresting yes. But moreso, because I am downright horrible at it.
Joe blo: “Nice weather eh?”
Me: “umm yes, there are clouds out so that’s nice I guess.”
Joe blo: “See the game last night?? Classic collapse on defense”
Me: “yeah, I didn’t see that one. sorry”
Joe blo: “So how’s it goin with you eh??”
Me: “Well I’m feeling a bit melancholy today because I wish the world wasn’t run amok with tragedy.”
(Joe blo proceeds to turn around and smash his head through the wall.)
I can be a real conversation killer. Mostly because I so badly want to ask joe blo about his latent father issues evidenced by his patchy relationships and also if he feels meaningless working at his 9 to 5 at ‘Things n’ Stuff’. But you can’t ask such questions most of the time. Its rude to pry into peoples lives with a counseling crowbar. Very very bad manners, says Martha Stewart. But etiquitte and manners do not get you so very far in terms of meaningful relationships, and I have had it up to my unibrow with ankle deep friendships. I have also had it with watching things get worse and worse in the lives of my loved ones. It is so unsettling how detached I feel from my family sometimes. Not that I don’t love them. That’s not it at all. I just feel detached from their lives, and I don’t know what to do. Like no matter how much I love them and how much I try and alter the course of their lives they still carry on doing whatever it is that seems so detrimental from where I sit. I imagine they might feel that way about me too. Ah yes, the joys of family dynamics and codependent relationships.
This feeling of being useless is especially awful because I have spent almost my entire adult life involved in youth work or humanitarian stuff or church work. Or any other vocation that is completely saturated with human contact. And I feel like that is the one thing in life that I am actually good at and that I really care about. If what I’m doing isn’t playing a role in helping other people than I feel like what I am doing is a failure. So when I watch those closest to me consistently struggling in their lives, and nothing I am doing is helping, it really feels unspeakably hopeless. Naturally going all the way across the world to meet people and help them in whatever way I can helps me feel less tragic about things. And I suppose that’s why I did all this, to an extent. But I’ve also realized a whole different side of things, because even though I have been working all year to help people ‘over there’, its not like I was unable to positively effect people just because they happen to be Canadian. I mean, I might not be able to carry out a conversation that doesn’t involve hockey or hunting rifles but that’s beside the point.
So this is what I am trying to say: that we should be passionate about effecting the world around us. It should be the greater world, sure. Have those crazy big adventures and learn to love all different kinds of people. But shouldn’t it also be the world closest to us? The world immediately around us. I think it should, and I think that is the hardest battle of all, because it’s a messy one and you are so emotionally invested in the people closest to you. I have watched my family members fight depression and rejection and failure. I have heard each one cry out in grief and wish for change. I have seen people who I love contemplate suicide, I’ve picked them up from jail, I’ve cried with them in funerals. I have lost loved ones suddenly, and watched them deteriorate in nursing homes. And across the board, watching a loved one suffer is definitely one of the most terrible things a person can ever endure.
So, given that level of emotional attachment, can you imagine the joy in seeing your prayers for them being answered? Or perhaps the miracle of repairing those broken relationships that have caused such strife, being able to finally forgive those people and have love prevail. This is the unspeakable joy present in knowing that you are fighting to help your dearest friends and family to overcome their own personal obstacles. There is a peace that comes in giving your utmost in those circumstances where you can have influence, even if the other person might not deserve it. And this is exactly where every single person can do something, right now, to change their world. Change the world outside your doors, yes, do that. There is an ocean of need and a few who dare to swim in it. But first, change your world. Commit to that, and walk on water.