Do you ever get that niggling sense that you’re just not quite making your contribution to the world, not quite pulling your weight? Like there’s something else that you should be doing to take care of other people, animals, or the environment, but you just don’t quite know what it is?
I do. Sometimes it’s just a general feeling of unease that I’m not doing my part, or curiosity about what the world would be like if I made more of an effort to make it a better place. Other times, it comes in incredibly intense bursts of longing to break out of the life that I’m living, to shed the artificial parts (the job that doesn’t fit, all the “shoulds” that go along with playing the career ladder game that I don’t believe in, the hesitation to follow my passions for fear I might fail) and devote myself completely to a worthy cause that’s larger than my own struggles. Bursts so intense that the tears come from nowhere, brimming with an indefinable emotion that is a mixture of frustration, regret, excitement, fear, urgency, hope, and raw, aching desire.
At these times, I am convinced of the absolute necessity of restructuring my life to expand my horizons and make a worthwhile contribution to the earth, and I understand why people commit their energies to two years in the PeaceCorps or a lifetime of volunteer service. I ask myself, what can I do? What am I willing to give up or change in my life so that I can dedicate my energies to causes I believe in? Could I spend a month, six months, a year or more of my life volunteering my time to preserve rainforest biodiversity or restore threatened habitats in critical regions of the world? What would it take to move my life to a place where I could do that? What can I do in the meantime?
Needless to say, these things are on my mind this weekend, thanks in part to Graham’s post about Thinking Beyond Borders and a conversation with a friend about EarthCorps (which, unfortunately, I am too old for – now, that’s a scary thought!). Volunteering and travel do seem to present an appealing combination of experiences, and one that I think I will look into further.