In Service to America

20 May

I’ve been editing my personal mission statement the past few days – making sure it is current and on track with the things I believe, the goals I have for myself, and what I think a life should be. Going through it again makes me think about what’s happened in my life since I wrote it. Have I really lived up to it? What can I do to make it better?

Thinking about my experience in Nashville this past weekend really makes me feel like there’s something bigger out there for me somewhere. It might be doing something small and relatively menial, but in its own way will have a big impact. Before this trip, I just felt like I was working at the Museum, rather than serving as a member of a larger team providing a service to the community. Now that I’ve seen what we can all do together, and separately, it becomes clear that I need to redirect my thinking into a global sense of purpose. I can’t be everywhere at once, or save the entire world single-handedly, but I can do my part to help out in my own way. And rather than just thinking of myself doing my job here in my corner of the world, I should think about the impact of my entire AmeriCorps team across the state. And then, all the different AmeriCorps programs coming together to do great things, wherever they may be. I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this, but at the same time it didn’t have such a personal impact on me. Now I realize how important this really is, and how much of a good thing we’re all doing. I’d really encourage everyone to check out this program, and find some way to volunteer your time in your own community.

I feel like lately all I write or talk about is working. Technically, serving. Not working. Maybe that was my problem – that I really still referred to this as working. Even though I’m paid a stipend, and have more of a professional position than other AmeriCorps members, I’m still in service, just like them. Thinking abut it in different terms really helps me to get back to the heart of what it’s all about. I’m not doing this for professional reasons – I’m doing it to fill a gap where help is needed. I haven’t put much effort into having a social life lately, or thinking about much else than what’s immediately happening in my life. I do miss having intellectual conversation at school, and thinking about things bigger than myself. I’d like to make an effort to get back into writing about ideas, rather than just events. I’m not looking for some profound statement that’s going to change the world, but just trying to elevate my intellectual capacity to something beyond recording the day’s events or thinking about what my next outfit will be. It’s all well and good to be concerned with your everyday life, but it leaves a little hole of emptiness. Without something bigger, you don’t have anything to work towards. Nothing bigger to think about. Nothing to stretch your mind.

So starting right now, I’m going to hold myself accountable for the things I write. I’m sure most of what you see posted here will have to do with my day-to-day life and happenings, but I’m really going to make an effort to write something better. Not some Great American Novel. But just think about something other than myself for a while. I’m not thinking about something serious here, but something beautiful. Something I’ll be proud to have put out into the world, and not cringe with embarrassment when I read it again in five years.

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