I did not eat all day today because I was upset & I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I was serving the homeless fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and cream of corn. I didn’t even consciously take myself to volunteer. I was already helping a friend downtown but found myself stopping at the Connection Housing on the way home.
It was torture on my stomach smelling the food and it was distressing enough to start giving me a headache. I felt a little dizzy & I wanted to eat so bad but not before knowing everyone else had their food and if they wanted seconds that they could. What was even harder is tonight I was behind the line placing food on the plates and usually I’m on the floor serving.
My favorite part about volunteering are the tables—the opportunity to listen, exchange stories, and witness someone smile when I know they’re in a tough spot. If someone can smile while they struggle then why should anyone else complain? I was so thankful that my friend behind the line made me a plate of food and then told me to join the residents because he knew how much I loved it.
“It’s the people we hardly know, and not our closest friends, who will improve our lives most dramatically.” I’ve started reading a new book “The Defining Decade,” by Meg Jay, PhD. Tonight I found myself hungry for a lot of things.
When I sat at my random table of choice I started conversation to those who were willing to talk. The woman to my left was kind of disinterested and the two men to my right were busy eating. But the two guys across the table found interest in speaking with me. One of the men asked me how long I’d been in the program and when I told him I was just a volunteer he looked very puzzled. He asked me why I would want to volunteer and why I would want to sit and eat with them. All I could say was because I wanted to. He ended up being so curious about me that we sat at the table long after everyone had left. He wanted to talk and share his story and I loved every minute of it.
“I wonder if the people who can turn a door knob and switch a light are even grateful,” he said. And I said that I wondered too but that it wasn’t important that we compare ourselves to others. He said that people needed to be more humbled and I agreed. We learned a lot from each other tonight and I never got his name but I am so very thankful for the conversation because while he may not be aware of my struggles he brought a lot of clarity to myself. And as I try to honestly accept a realization I have trouble not being scared and letting go.
At one point in our conversation I told him about how stubborn I was. He asked me what my zodiac sign was and I told him I was a Leo. He chuckled and proceeded to tell me that I knew how to hear and not listen. I told him about how even when sometimes people share a piece of advice with me I sometimes do the opposite anyway. And I corrected his assumption of me only hearing and told him that I do listen. Sometimes I listen too much and I get so overwhelmed it makes me forget, ironically. I listen to piece of advice, take consideration of my risks, and if it ends horribly I accept the consequences. I don’t blame others for my mistakes or complain over it. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, especially in this last year, but I’ve held myself accountable. And if I’ve learned the hard way at least I’m learning and moving forward with it.
I’m really starting to be aware everyday just how much we all struggle, all hypocrisies, all judge, all disappoint and are all so imperfect. Aside from God we’ll never be perfect but we should never give up trying to be our best examples. Volunteering was something I choose to do on my own. I didn’t have parents who made me do it to find perspective or learn a lesson about where I could end up. But it’s nights like tonight where I’m convinced that every interaction through out our lives will be of importance and that happiness is only real when shared. And I am happy to share myself even if it is a slow progress. I find that the older I get the less I care for what others think of me & let the people who love me move forward with me in life.