Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Lending a Hand


I decided not to make any resolutions for the New Year. Unfortunately in my case, the act of making the resolution seems to curse the results. At the end of last year, I looked back on everything I did in 2006 and I felt like I did nothing at all. I'll rephrase and say I felt like I did nothing to impact someone else's life at all. So, the one big change I want to make in my life as I get older is to help others more. Sure, I help my friends or acquaintances with little things that go wrong from time to time in their lives but I never get that immense feeling of joy that comes along with giving back to those less fortunate than yourself. I know this sounds, looks and feels like a New Year's Resolution but it's more of the start of a positive life change.

About a week ago, I went to a volunteer orientation at a homeless shelter in downtown LA. I used to volunteer when I was younger and I have recently been compelled to jump back into it as an adult. It was quite interesting walking around the shelter and seeing what they do for the homeless there. It almost felt like a jail but obviously with less restrictions. What I like most is that this shelter has a special program that lasts for 18 months that teaches them the necessary skills to re-enter into society. The director said only about half of the people that walk through their doors actually enter the program; half is better than none. For many of them, the program is a way to stop abusing drugs while others use it to get their GED. The director said the shelter is their last stop on a long road to recovery.

After we took a tour of the grounds, we watched a video of what this particular shelter's mission is and one line stuck with me many days thereafter. The narrator said, "Maybe the life you save will be your own". I, like everyone else experiences having a void of some sort in your life at times. Usually we do everything except the right thing to fill this void. My personal void has mainly centered around me being single for most of my adult life and wondering why I could never find that special someone to share my happiness with. Although I have always had many friends who love me that I can count on more than two hands and a great family that also has showered me with an over-abundance of love, I focused on the one aspect of my life that I didn't have and created this void. It all sounds kind of silly as I write about it here amongst talking about the homeless but it's my life and it's my void. Or should I say, my soon-to-be extinct void.

This void along with other voids I have nursed throughout the years has caused me to fall into a trap of getting too caught up in my own life. It's hard not to fall into this trap because no one else but you can make your life turn into the perfect vision you envision it to be. But now I am beginning to think I have enough time to grow my life as well as help grow someone else's life; or at least I can try. I just have to abandon the "me" parade thinking first. Everything has been about me, myself and I for far too long. I didn't realize I had become so self-absorbed until one day last month, I just got sick of whining to myself about me and my wants. I had an epiphany and thought, what if I transfer all of this "I want a relationship" energy into something else. I'm sure you can tell I am one of those, "Everything happens in your life for a reason" kind of gals. Maybe if I had my perfect life already, I wouldn't have even thought to take this path to the shelter. For now, the shelter is my first stop on a long road to helping myself as well as helping others.

1 comment:

PakiPoki said...

amen sister -- i too get too caught up in MY problems, MY issues, and MY goals -- you never realize how self obessed you can be till you get out of your world, and your method is one way to do it - hopefully, i can find the time to do the same!