Giving Back : "Seek Out Something That Gives You Joy"
As the April 2013 Lady Lennia of the Giving Back issue, I have been thinking a lot about the different ways we can give back and the different needs that exist.
There are many needs in this world, and attempting to count or catalog them is overwhelming. Considering all the problems at once is like staring at the sun – it blinds you. It’s easy to say “The world has too many problems. I can’t fix the world.”
Instead, listen to the wise words the late Roger Ebert shared at the end of his memoir Life Itself:
“I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world.”
So, seek out that which calls to you on a personal level. When I traveled half way across the world – from Bangladesh to the University of Houston to attend college – I was overwhelmed and lost. Yes, I did throw myself a pity party, but then I picked myself up and looked for solutions. I ended up joining the Honors College (the classes were smaller – 20 students as opposed to a full auditorium for a history class), the Council of Ethnic Organizations (diversity has always been dear to me), and the Student Programming Board (I love organizing fun events, and I got free t-shirts!). I had an amazing college experience and made some wonderful friends.
[quote]”I needed friends, a community, fast.” [/quote]
When I moved San Angelo, a small city in West Texas, I didn’t know a soul. Okay, I knew the editors of the newspaper since they hired me, but not enough to call them in the middle of the night because my dishwasher went crazy or some other emergency. I needed friends, a community, fast.
Again, I turned to volunteer opportunities. I lived in an apartment that didn’t allow pets and I missed having one to share my home with. So, I volunteered at the local animal shelter to help exercise and socialize the cats and dogs.
Also, I love to cook. However, cooking for one often seems a chore, but cooking for a gathering is pure fun. So I volunteered at the local soup kitchen, The Daily Bread.
Now, when the world is pure chaos, the kitchen is a refuge. There is a certain kind of peace in chopping and mincing, measuring and mixing. The heady scent of garlic, onion, ginger, parsley or cilantro is aroma therapy to my frayed nerves. I’m a visual person, so I’ll choose a bright mix of ingredients: red and yellow bell peppers, orange carrots, and green herbs. A sprinkle of snow-white salt and a dash of bright red cayenne. I’m as happy as a kindergartner with a box of crayons.
So don’t be overwhelmed. Instead, seek out something that gives you joy. You will find it easy then to turn around and give joy to others.