Walking past perfect little brownstones bordered by perfectly-sized trees full of leaves on a seemingly perfect Old Town street on a crisp perfect September afternoon reminds me of my perfect existance. Wait. No it doesn't.
I loved these streets of Chicago, and I still do. I lived here after gentrification took hold, sweeping out the once ethnic and blue-collar population, replacing it with cafes, small rescue dogs, and over-priced trendy stores. No street musicians play on these street corners. Flowers beds are protected by metal-rod fences. Couples walk hand in hand on Sundays to brunch, complaining of going back tomorrow to their over-worked jobs that are slowly murdering them.
Its a snobbish place. I sometimes wonder if I want to move back here to live a nice story-book existence. So I'm not sure why I don't, and I'm not sure why I do.
My partner fell asleep on my shoulder while watching Rent off Netflix. He had clicked into the Gay and Lesbian movie section, and to my surprise I was shocked by how many of these movies I had seen (and LOVED). He'd never seen Rent, and I have no problem rewatching it over and over, so so I assured him we would have a great viewing experience. Correction: I had another great viewing experience, and he fell fast asleep. Eventually, I nudged him awake, and shooed him to bed, so I could bop around to the music without bruising his temple.
“La Vie Boheme” came on, and then I heard the sweet voice of Benny, a.k.a. Taye Diggs:
He sang of a neighborhood, the East Village in NYC, riddled at the time with crime and poverty, infested by starving artists. Benny after all was trying to bring gentrification into this burning world. In rebuttal, Mark, the penniless cinematographer, breaks out into one most inspirational, finger-waving, chaotic songs:
Before ending with thought-provoking words:
(RIP Jonathon Larson)
Occasionally at The Volunteer Bay, we attend college service, volunteer, and job fairs. Advisors like telling their students about us when their looking for more opportunities on going abroad other than just for study. When we talk to students, many of whom have never volunteered before and are interested, we try to guide them to a cause they would be passionate about.
“What do you mean what am I passionate about?” is the question I get most often especially from the undeclared majors.
“To put it simply: what would you not mind giving your time and energy to?”
Their eyes often veer up, thinking, expanding wide when they finally become aware of what they love. “I love animals” or “Kids are cool” or “I'm kind of just a numbers person” or “I love playing my guitar, but there is nothing I can do with that.”
Which I am the first to say, “There is so much you can do with that.”
If song inspired you, why do you think it wouldn't inspire a whole classroom of young learners? Being a number person can help a community with budgeting and acquiring sustainability.
There's no reason to look at volunteering like you look at that required class you have to take. This is not something you have to do. This is something you feel you should do, and there is no reason for you not to love being a part of it IF you just figure out what you care about. The possibilities are endless.
“What was your major?” he asked.
“Writing,” I said.
His chin flies back, creating three of them. He looked at me, wondering what I was doing there at the fair on a Wednesday afternoon rather than with a keyboard in front of me. The truth was that this nineteen year old might, like some of his peers, fall neatly in getting a job in what his future declared major would be. But like me and millions others out there, he might not. Yes, I write. But I do many other things too. And when I volunteer, I usually jump onboard animal projects at a faster rate than other projects. I love animals. I like writing. Sometimes I find people alright, especially the people who care about what they're doing. At these fairs I can help those people in their own causes by bringing them more people that would share in desire for change.
We strive not pass through life, but to pass each day living. La vie boheme.