I used to think I’d really like to go to college. I still think that, sometimes. I love learning. My curiosity is insatiable! I daydream about spending my days reading interesting books and having interesting discussions with interesting teachers and classmates. But, there’s something about the end goal of getting a degree that seems to suck all the life out of the learning. Suddenly, all of my work has to mean something. Eventually, I see myself trudging through just to get to the end, hungrily eyeing the diploma with my name on it – the piece of paper that will prove to other people that I’m capable of doing whatever it is I’ve chosen to study. A world of career choice is supposed to open up to me, right? That paper will allow me to do things, things to help the world!
But, the world wants help right now. And, I want to help in whatever way I can, right now. The world can’t wait for me to spend five years in school learning how to prove that I can do the things that I already know I have the capacity for. If I wanted to be a doctor or a mathematician, sure, I should probably go to school. My calling is… well, I seem to be learning more about my calling to serve by serving.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sometimes, I get impatient with caring about how I look. I get sucked into negative thoughts about my body more often than I’d like to admit. I don’t like my belly, I wish my boobs were smaller, my eyelashes are too short. I begin to think about going on a cleanse or forcing myself to work out every single day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty dang healthy. But, y’know, I, too, struggle against the conditioning of the consumeristic society in which I grew up. All of this struggle takes so much damn time! Very quickly, I realize that I have so many other problems I’d rather put my energy toward. Climate change, oppression, poverty, war… how can I spend more than a few moments a day putting on mascara or styling my hair?
How much time is wasted on our silly vanities? Andrew Harvey says that one of the biggest obstacles to changing the world is the hectic lifestyle we live. If our status lies within our material possessions, having the best car or the biggest house, and the desire drives us to work harder and longer, how will we ever get out of the cycle? So much of the destruction of Mother Earth and her creatures is caused by our crazed consumption. If we all slowed down a little, and took time to appreciate our lives and our relationships, we may be able to break out of those cycles of destruction. I suppose, then, that this would not be the time for impatience, but a time for patient listening.
Ok, one more thought (impatience really drives my life, I guess! (are you getting impatient with me, dear reader? (is anyone even reading this??)): Last night, a dear friend whom I haven’t spoken to in a long time (I hope that was proper grammar – he’s a English teacher) called me on Facebook video chat (did anyone else know they have that now??). I don’t remember how we got to it, but he mentioned how he seems to spend a lot of time thinking about what a terrible person he was in the past. He wasn’t, but that’s actually beside the point because even if he were (you weren’t! Really, now. Would I be friends with a terrible person?), what is the point of dwelling on that? Yes, let’s remember the past so that we can learn from it but why waste our precious time and energy on this amazing planet wishing we had done things differently? We could spend that time and energy creating art, writing stories that move people, writing blogs for personal pleasure + 4.3 daily readers, finding a cure for cancer, hugging your mom, calling a friend, making new friends, perfecting the perfect omelette, picking up trash from the sidewalk, pondering the mysteries of the universe, watching cat videos (ok, please find something a little more productive than that)!
He’s learning, I’m learning, we’re all learning.