Friday, April 03, 2009


I'm paralyzed. That's how I feel at least. Let me explain.

Post Peace Corps, and now with a year of life back in the states under my belt, I have an extremely wide angle world view. The world is freaking huge, and it contains a lot of people from a lot of different cultures. A lot (and I mean a whole effing lot) of those people are suffering from an enormously wide range of difficulties. This includes the child dying of malaria in west africa, to the poppy farmer in Afghanistan whose crops we just crushed with supplies for our soldiers, to the CEO who's trying not to let his corporation collapse under economic downfall, to the mom down the street who is just trying to get her kids to school on time when her car fails. All of these problems are of utmost concern to those people at that moment. Empirically, yes, some may be more life or death than others, but relative to the person, they are all equally important.

I have a small, finite, amount of time to spend on this planet. For whatever reason, I have a deep desire to help, to do good, and to connect with people. It is what gets me out of bed in the morning. Whether I am carrying school books and supplies to a girl in a rural African village, or just helping someone find the right computer and avoid buying more than they need, I perform these duties with the same sincerity, empathy, and honesty. The expression of genuine gratitude I receive in payment is the same from all these people. It creates in me the same wonderful feeling of connectedness, no matter how profound or mundane the help I just offered may seem. It's all wonderful, all these problems are important, and all these people just want honest help.

This is where I become paralyzed. Where do I even begin? How do I decide what small portion of this world receives the time I have to give? And, how much of that time should I be keeping for myself? I can't even default to the selfish "what makes me happy" answer as I genuinely get the same satisfaction from helping an old man make his email work as I did helping a child carry water back to his family from the well.

The result, because I am pulled in all these directions is that I am just standing still. I cannot make myself look for employment or volunteer opportunities. I can barely even work on my own little creative personal projects. There is so much out there that I can do that I am rendered incapable of action at the thought of closing off one part to pursue another.