There is nothing quite like goodbye. The world is large and our paths are unknown. Every twist is a new adventure, every turn a new chance. But we must take care not to become lost in the folds of time and space. We must use the past to ground us. For if we become untethered from our origin, our paths will drift. And as they drift they will unwind and separate into nothingness, leaving behind all that we have gathered in our journey.
Advocacy. Lobbying. What is it? Do I believe in it? Is it something I could do? Is it something I would want to do?
I’ve been spending some free time this summer researching different possibilities for after Gettysburg. There are internships, fellowships, master’s programs, and of course the job market. I’ve surveyed a large variety of opportunities in many different areas and one thing I’ve seen is advocacy, principally environmental advocacy. But I’m skeptical. I’m skeptical because when I hear “advocacy” I am reminded of student organizations here at Gettysburg. And when I consider the involvement, activism, and success of our campus clubs I’m not exactly thrilled.
So this is what I want to figure out: what is advocacy, how does it work, and where does it fit into the larger picture? Obviously advocacy means generating awareness and promoting a topic, but what all does that entail. And then of course there are other questions. Where does the funding come from? Who are we trying to convince? Do I believe in the cause I’m selling?
I’m not sure what I think of advocacy. I’m sure several alumni are working in the environmental advocacy field and I’m going to try to get in contact with some of them. My gut feeling is that it is not something I would want to do myself, but is definitely important to understand. Perhaps working as an advocate might be a good short-term opportunity in a longer career path.
It’s official: I’ve had my first overnight guest of the summer. Andrea came down for a night and stayed with us in Farmhouse. It’s really cool to have a place someone can come, hang out, eat, and crash. I really liked it. I’m getting hooked on this communal living situation. Group meals, communal money dish for food, CSA share..it’s so great. Tonight Jasmine even cut everyone’s hair! I’m getting so use to this that I’m not going to want to go back to living in a dorm this fall…
Andrea wasn’t here long, but we had some time to talk about the scariest conversation of all: the future. Graduate school, jobs, family…we laid it all out there. It’s funny in her I see the same fears I also hold, fears of the eternal fight within between two life paths. One path pursues a meaningful job with a strong impact and the challenge of instituting real change in this world, but also carries with it the threat of dominating personal needs like family and friends. The other path leads to a comfortable life with a strong family component (for both of us this seems to revolve around teaching) but forsakes the chase of our dreams and all the possibilities that might come with them.
Where do we find a middle ground? Do we even want compromise? Sometimes making a decision feels like we are closing doors elsewhere, but how do we know which doors to leave open when we cannot know where any door leads?
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
I went down to get a snack and some water, and I did noticed some dishes in the sink. They weren’t mine, but Jasmine always does mine so I thought I’d do these. As I washed I noticed the quote on the side of Jasmine’s mug. It’s one of those kind of cheesy quotes that are supposed to inspire you. You’re supposed to save the world. But really, what would I do? Despite how trite this is it I couldn’t help but think about it…
What would I do? Of course I would want to save the world. I would want to fix everything that is wrong and make the world a perfect place free from oppression, inequality, and misfortune. But what if I could do only one thing? What would I do?
I could cure HIV/AIDS. I could stop world hunger. I could destroy poverty. I could demolish religious violence. I could educate all the children of the world. I could reverse global climate change. There are so many things I could do, so many ways I could help. But how do you choose between saving some innocent child from AIDS while leaving others to starve?
All these causes are wonderful, but I don’t think I would tackle any of them. They’re all so…singular. Isolated issues with one theme connecting them: human nature. Are we innately selfish, or altruistic? Are we stewards of the Earth of just tenants with heightened ability to impact it? Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you think about either of these because one thing is obvious: we are not static. Humans cannot exist in a state of equilibrium because we need change. We need progress. In one way or another every one of the issues above can be traced back to our need to move forward.
So what would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail? I would change human nature; I would make us content to exist in a static equilibrium. Then we would never suffer the destruction progress always brings.
Oh wait… this would just leave us forever stuck with the disasters of today.
I find it interesting that this is really the ultimate question of my life, and has been for years. These three simple words rival all those other weighty three words combos: I love you. I miss you. I am sorry. If you stop and think about it, What is Important? defines how we use those other admissions. They simple act of relatively valuing the things in our life completely defines everything that is and will ever be. Is success more important than love? Will it always be this way, or just while we are young and flexible? Actually, if you think about it shouldn’t we dedicate more of youth’s flexibility and vigor to love? After all, I hear it gets harder and harder to meet people when you begin to leave the institutions that make finding people so easy (college).
I spend so much time fretting about what I need to do that a lot of time I forget that I don’t need to do any of it. Hell, I don’t even need to finish college. These are only things I want to do because I believe they will help me pursue a better life. Now, when you put it in terms of quality of life, suddenly things become more complicated. I could work really hard and maybe be rewarded for my endeavors, or I could take a more relaxed approach to college and immerse myself in the unique social atmosphere that exists in no other institution on this Earth. Essentially, I could be the irresponsible kid/teen/guy I never was. Wow, why is life so complicated?
Our live are only as complicated as we make them, and sometimes we need to be reminded just how silly we are. Luckily I have a lot of support when it comes to telling me how I’m screwing up, and someone is always around to steer me in the right direction. I mean that in the most positive way though, and just last night someone special made me realize that the way I live, with all my commitments and my meticulously planned schedule, is about as far from my ideal as I could ever be.
If you ask me my ideal lifestyle you will undoubtedly get a mix of purposeful work and meaningful relationships. What you might not hear me say is freedom and introspection, yet these are two things I hold dear. When I am free to move and grow as I please I am most happy. And when I can reflect on my life and the world around me I can feel the weight of ages pass over me. It is as if I am making a connection with the past; a connection to that fundamental human spirit that lives in us all. It is cloaked in the folds of manufactured purpose, but under the veil we can all relate to the need to feel satisfied.
You know, above all else I think that is the word. Satisfaction. Are you satisfied with your life? Are you satisfied when you give up something fun and important to do something you think you need to do? Or are you satisfied living a life of mediocre productivity? Everyone knows the feeling of satisfaction. Look for it. Pursue it. Find it. When you’re satisfied those important things will come easy. You will confess your love. You will show your appreciation. You will admit your wrongs.
And you definitely won’t be wasting your time trying to figure our what you’re doing with your life 😉
I’ve noticed I have a habit of telling people I am going to do/have/see/visit/experience a lot of things in the future. I say “I’m adding that to the list.” Some of them are reasonable (get a Master’s in Planning), some not so much (Rule the World and establish a presidency). I think I am going to start adding the ones I remember to a list on the blog just for shits and giggles. Keep an eye out 🙂