Who am I?

I think that is one of those questions that can’t be answered until the time at which it becomes painfully obvious.  When it comes to life and death, what kind of person will I be?  What path will I choose?  Where will it lead me?  Am I a coward or will I fight?

Many of you already know that the Catholic Church and I have been fighting for a number of years.  This makes the question even more difficult.  At least if I still believed, then I would do the right thing because it would get me into heaven.  To me, trying to satisfy someone else’s expectations seems almost like the easy way out.  Instead, I am left with something even more difficult to answer because I’m really only answering to myself.  “When the time comes, will I admire the person I am, or despise her?”

It seems that I haven’t been paying attention to my Netflix list.  I managed to follow “Saving Private Ryan” with “Hotel Rwanda.”  Both are extremely difficult movies to watch and they lead me to ponder these questions.  If some day I find myself in a difficult situation, what kind of person will I be?  Am I willing to die for my convictions?  Am I willing to die to save the life of someone else.  Will I only feel good about it if I can convince myself that they will do good with the rest of their life?  Will I help the lives of strangers at the cost of my own?  I know I will get my hair cut to help a stranger get a job, but how far will I really go?

The fluffy things that I usually write about make it painfully obvious how easy my life is.  My friends give me a hard time because I can’t pick a restaurant.  What they don’t seem to understand is that I don’t really care because there are questions much greater that I’m struggling with constantly.  I just don’t usually share them.  I’m not as burdened as I was when I was younger, but they are still there.

Just the other day, someone said that they’d spent the morning wondering why sucked so much.  That same morning, I woke up wondering if my work was in any way contributing to the good of society.  What have I done for the world lately?  Am I contributing to the greater good or the greater evil?  Why do people think that creating a $100 laptop will help the world when really people need clean water, a constant food supply, and access to modern medicine.  If my job in the tech industry isn’t contributing to the greater good, then I need to make sure it is enabling me to contribute to the world.  It was easier to justify when I was a teacher.

And then I start to wonder, what do I have to do in order to feel like I’m contributing?  Would building habitats for humanity, serving food at the homeless shelter, or teaching children to read do it?  Donating money and no time makes me feel like it is a half-hearted jesture, but still it helps, and I do it.  Would going on a volunteering trip make me feel better, or worse because I’m not doing something locally?  And how much do I have to do to make this damned Catholic guilt subside?  Thinking that makes the Irish in me feel even guiltier.  Am I being selfish for wanting to help other people to make myself feel better?

That is just the tip of the iceberg.  I could go on and on.  Instead, I’m going to start small.  I’ll volunteer for something tomorrow.  I have volunteered for some things at work, but they are all work related.  I like working with the interns/students.  They remind me of my kids at school.  But I don’t feel like that is enough.  I need to work with the underpriviledged.  I need to give back somehow to all the people that gave to me growing up.  I can’t do it directly, so I have to help others in their honor.  I wouldn’t be who I am today without the help and support of strangers and my family.

I want to wake up every day and be happy with myself and what I’m doing for the world.  I’m not quite there yet, but I think I can be.  Right now I just feel neutral.  It is like riding my bike to work.  Do it once and realize it is possible.  Do it again and start to get a groove.  Do it a third time and realize I like it.  Last week it wasn’t possible.  I started over today.  I’ll start over with the volunteer thing tomorrow.  And on my ride to work, I’ll wonder again whether or not I’ll face fear with a lion’s roar, or a possum’s prostrate position?

Who are you?


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by -bs on August 1, 2006 at 8:37 pm

    I’ve done the second harvest food sort stuff in San Jose and found it rewarding, and somewhat fun. A little bit of me wanted to join the peace corps, and yet I know most of my family/friends could not identify with that desire and I couldn’t get any support…


  2. Posted by Waterbury Girl on August 2, 2006 at 4:24 am

    Drop the guilt and make a point of doing the right thing on a daily basis. Then you’ll be in the habit of doing the right thing. The trouble is that you have to use your brain and make some effort in order to do the right thing. In my experience, most volunteer organizations might mean well, but they aren’t necessarily realistic. Once you start getting involved, it’s very easy to become too cynical. You need to have clear ideals before you start trying to make the world better, or you’ll end up hopelessly discouraged. And you need to start small (I’d love to see someone bring about world peace, but it won’t happen overnight). If it’s any consolation, I’ve always considered you to be a good person. The fact that you worry about it is a good sign!


  3. Posted by Anonymous on August 2, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    So, I found your blog last week and the excellent pictures. Then I came back this week and started reading old and new posts. BOY do you have ISSUES! You must be a psychiatrist’s dream. So I decided to be annonymous. Well, on to another blog.


  4. Posted by Calandria on August 8, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    ‘Anonymous’ must be relatively sheltered.Oh well.Anyway, I LOVE this post. I have some of the same struggles. It is inspiring to see you act on your convictions.


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