Saturday, March 30, 2013

Footprint

Lately, I've been feeling like what I do, teach general elementary music, doesn't matter.  It's not that I don't think music, Art, doesn't matter, and it's not that I don't think education doesn't matter.  I am a strong believer that music education does good for everyone...but I'm, somehow, not feeling like what I'm doing is really contributing well to the world.  That's a problem because all I've ever wanted to do is have a positive footprint on this world (so vague).  Last Sunday I was out to lunch with a couple friends and I asked them if they ever feel like what they do doesn't matter?  Like it's superfluous, maybe selfish.  They both said yes and that if I'm feeling that way at a job that I do find to be important, then I'm probably not at the right job.  Then she said something that her roommate had told her: make a list of the things I love and that are important to me, then find a job that incorporates that list.  So here's my list.  Here's my list of things that I'm passionate about, things that are important to me, things that I love. (in no particular order)

1) Art.  Hopefully you saw that one coming.  Art (music/visual art/dance/etc) has never not been a part humanity.  Art is essential to being human.  The different forms Art takes both intrigues me and inspires me; and I want everyone to let their inner artist out.

2) Animals.  The more I don't eat them, the more I love them.  They are excellent and bring such joy to this world.  I believe people should treat animals with more respect and dignity not only by not eating them, but by caring for them as cohabitants of this Earth, not just as a means to make money.



3) Hurting People.  Young and old, male and female, people are hurting.  This is such a broad list of people.  The brokenness of the world effects everyone, but some it hits extra hard, it seems.  I wish I could just fix everyone's problems, but I unfortunately feel completely paralyzed most of the time.  I want everyone to feel loved and known.

4) Stewardship.  I believe in being a good steward of everything given to me: body, mind, spirit, possessions, other living creatures, everything's been given to us.  There are some things I'm a struggling steward of and some things I don't even give a second glance or consideration of, but for the most part I try to be mindful of most things.  A behavior I see a lot of in the USA is wastefulness or maltreatment of our things and people that make up our life, major or minor roles.  I would love to see more conservation and consideration of our natural resources.  Or even small things on the home front like buying food and preparing it, then eating out so much the prepared food goes to waste; that's wasteful of both the food and the money.

5) Education.  Education has always been a prominent part of my life.  Having aunts, uncles, and grandparents that play(ed) some type of role in the education system, has education in the forefront of my mind my whole life.  I've always loved school, except in 11th grade, and have always wanted to be in an educational environment.  I believe that education elevates and changes both the educators and the pupils.


6) Social Justice.  I would love to live in a society in which everyone is treated with love and respect. It's not always easy, but I believe it's important to treat someone with respect not because they've done anything to earn it, but because they are humans just like all of us.  I'd love to have everything equitable, no one needing anything (food, clothes, shelter) because the Haves willingly, without soliciting, step up and provide for their fellow humans.

Well, that's my list.  The above are things that I am really passionate about.  The things that make me get my soapbox out.  Perhaps I could hone in on somethings, but I don't want to exclude.  So now I need help.  What are some occupations that somehow incorporate all of the above.  I want my time on this Earth to matter, not so I can make a big name for myself, some flashy legacy, but so people's lives/animals' lives/Earth's life get better.  Help me out.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Reading is FUNdamental

So I technically work for a major book store chain.  The frozen yogurt shop at which I work is attached to said book store, so I'm considered an employee of the store.  One of the perks of being an employee of the book store is that I get a 20% discount, but this month is Employee Appreciation Month; this means, amongst other things, I now get a 30% discount on most things in the bookstore (instead of just getting 30% off on paydays).  This is pretty great, but I haven't been taking advantage of it, until yesterday.  Yesterday, I finally cashed in the $60 dollars worth of book store gift cards I've gotten from different things at work.  I ended up paying only $32 for $130 worth of books with my discount and gift cards.  It was glorious.  Here are the books I got and why I chose them.



1) A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I read Khaled Mosseni's first book, The Kite Runner, in University in some English class or something.  The Kite Runner really sobered and intrigued me because it told the story of a relationship I have never and will never experience.  Other places, other cultures, fascinate me and I know A Thousand Splendid Suns will likely do the same.

2) The Paris Wife.  I asked for recommendations and this one came up.  Apparently it's really popular: it was on a special table at the book store, the one for popular reads.  It seems slightly romancey and I'm not really into romance novels, but I think it's less about their, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley, romance and more about the unraveling of it.  I have a fascination, okay, obsession, with the expat lifestyle and would like to see about this version of that lifestyle.

3) One Hundred Years of Solitude.  Well, I've heard of this book and one of my roommates loves this book, but to be honest, I'm just in love with the cover.  It's really beautiful.  I have a great interest in Latin America, culture and history, and this book is said to be an allegory for turning points in South American history.

4) A Long Way Gone.  I don't think I've ever heard of this book, but it caught my eye and I immediately put it in my pile.  It's an autobiography of a former child soldier from Sierra Leon.  The lives of the child soldiers rip my heart out.  They're the same kids I teach and have taught, they just were/are forced to kill to survive themselves.  I love peoples' stories, even when they're nightmares.

5) Don Quixote.  This book is SUPER old and is legendary.  I first fell in love with this story when I saw it reenacted on Wishbone and would love to actually read the story.  I bought the book with part one and two.  It's long, but I'm pretty sure it'll be great.

6) Bossypants.  I really like Tina Fey; I think she's talented and smart and pretty.  I thought this'd be a nice, light read.

7) Tattoos of the Heart.  My pastor has talked about this book a number of occasions and every time I've become more captivated with this story, this ministry.  Homeboy Industries is a phenomenal ministry that foster redemption and second chances.

8) The House of  the Spirits.  I actually have no idea what this book is about, but a friend recommended it and I have known about the author, Isabel Allende, since senior year in high school.  My Spanish teacher spoke of her fondly.  I have high hopes for this one.

9) Uncle Tom's Cabin.  This book has made some history and I want to read why.

Cheers to reading.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Can't Sleep, Real Nightmares

It's 3am.  I was asleep, but then I woke up as I usually do.  Since I don't have to get up early, I decided to peruse Twitter for a little bit and came across this little opinion piece that will serve as my weekly list post.  Sex trafficking isn't news to me, but it's presence in the USA was made known to me in college when I learned about it's large presence in Greensboro, where I went to school, and other places in North Carolina, when I attended some kind of informational meeting(s) or something.  Reading the piece made me sad so I tried to get my mind off of it by doing a little Facebooking.  But that didn't work because suddenly my mind was racing with nightmarish thoughts about all the evil and pain and sadness and fear and hate in the World.  Suddenly, I was back to being my 13-14 year old self crying myself in and out of sleep in the middle of the night, crying out to God, because I saw, I see, all this horror in the World and feel completely overwhelmed and paralyzed and ashamed.  I was gonna write a silly list post about things that make me cry (i.e. puppies, The Ellen Show), but then I decided to write an almost tribute to myself about what I like about me and turning 25.  I couldn't muster up much for both, I didn't feel like writing.  I feel like writing now.

Overwhelmed/paralyzed/ashamed.  In addition to the heartache I feel for people who are abused/marginalized/hated/used, I feel overwhelmed/paralyzed/ashamed.  Overwhelmed because there are so many people, more daily, who are victims, past-present-future.  Overwhelmed because there are so many ways people can be mistreated and it seems there are new ways created daily, it's hard to keep up.  Paralyzed because I wouldn't even know where to begin to help.  Paralyzed because I can't choose just one 'cause' to devote myself to because I hurt for all.  Paralyzed because I feel small and insignificant and dumb and ill-informed and incapable.  Ashamed because I do nothing.  Ashamed because I have such a great life for which I'm often ungrateful.  Ashamed because I think of all the slaves that made my clothes, electronics, furniture, my stuff.  Ashamed because I am so selfish, so self-absorbed at times.

Then I get to thinking about if what I do, teach music, matters.  And while, for the most part, I am firm and passionate advocate for education (NOT the education system), it often seems in vain when held up to the monster of human trafficking.  It makes me want to go all Bryan Mills and start kicking ass and taking names internationally and nationally.  It makes me want to go into every brothel, every concentration camp, every street corner, every factory, every field, every unsafe home, every cult compound, every sex temple, every trash dump, every ditch ,every guarded border, every refugee camp, every orphanage, every child soldier camp and say 'sorry' and cry and hug and rescue and fix.  But then I feel overwhelmed, then paralyzed, and, finally, ashamed.

So then what do I do?  What can I do?  How does one go (back) to sleep knowing that just down the road, just across the globe, there are real, living-breathing, nightmares happening now?  Perhaps I should feel empowered, but I don't; I can't shake this overwhelmed/paralyzed/ashamed feeling.  What sorry excuses to not help others.  If I wait until I feel 'ready' then I will never help.  So is this a call to action?