When You Want To Do Something That Will Be Remembered

Flickr / Josh Meek
Flickr / Josh Meek

A few years ago, I sat in my classroom with my co-teacher, eating an avocado and talking about our goals. The lesson had either gone really well, or really not well — I don’t remember. We taught in one of the lowest performing schools in Providence. Every day was a mix of both. The story doesn’t depend on the fact that we were eating an avocado, if you’re wondering. That’s just what I remember.

“I just want to do something that will be remembered,” is something to the effect of what I said. Or something about how everything was just a little bit pointless.

My co-teacher smirked and said I sounded like that dust in the wind song.

Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

“Yes, exactly,” I said, unironically, but with a bit of a chuckle to make me at least a little bit likeable. I finished the avocado. He had given me his other half.

What I was trying to convey (poorly) was that marrying and having kids (he had them) wasn’t just “it” for me. I wanted something beyond what I came home to every night. I wanted to make some kind of larger impact. I’m not any different than the thousands — millions — of idealistic kids who graduate from college. I know it. I may change, I may not. I’m five years older today, and haven’t changed that opinion all that much, but there’s time.

I just haven’t really found “the point.”

More recently, I moved to a new place and started a new job. Have you ever had the “I’m just in a good place” moment? I’ve had a lot of that lately. I’ve soaked in a lot of gratitude over the past few months.

I’ve met my significant other; we’ve been together for nine years, and I just feel so damn lucky…it’s that good. You just can’t put it into words. Unfortunately, I often don’t.

I adopted a cat a few years ago, and he brings so much happiness to my life. It’s small, but…

…I’m so, so lucky.

I work with a group of lovely, funny, kind people. I get to write every day.

I’m lucky.

I have a little place of my own. A bed to sleep in. A sink that allows me to splatter cold water on my face.

I’m damn lucky. And so afraid I’ll stop striving.

Everyone fakes their knowledge. People who travel all over the world still haven’t been everywhere, you know. People talk about what they know. But the thing is, you know stuff they don’t know. I’ve learned it’s important to have some confidence. To talk about the stuff I do know.

In the Congo, there’s a railroad operated by a group of volunteers who used to be paid to work there. They take great pride in being able to hotwire one — just one — piece of equipment that can travel on a track. Yet the country waits for greater, bigger change. How much difference does their work make? They come and work every day for free — who takes notice? They do.

By the way, I learned that by watching Anthony Bourdain. On Netflix. Again, everyone fakes their knowledge. Have some confidence in yourself. We all know a little bit of nothing.

Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy

No, I haven’t yet found the “point.” But I think I’m on to something.

There’s no mystery. None of us know what the “point is.” You could volunteer and work for something you won’t see grow within your lifetime. The people you help will also die someday. It’ll still matter to you. To your friends and family. To the people you help. You are the best leader for your community. If you think you’re ill-equipped or unqualified, just think about what someone outside of the community — outside of the room where decisions are happening — feels. Speak up. Especially if you’re in that room.

You may not ever care to get married or have kids. Own a house. But do care about making your corner better. If not for you, for something bigger than yourself. For an avocado. Or something like that.

Life is maddening ; we listen to the advice given by people who just go and change their minds.

Yeah, we’re all just dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind.

I end like that, unironically, of course. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

This post originally appeared at Medium

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