Saturday, July 9, 2011
Paulo Coehlo, author of The Alchemist and my main man, Tweeted this week, “changes happen when we go against everything we’re used to doing.” This got me thinking about another saying, “crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” (or something along those lines).
Today I finished a car wash to raise money to combat human trafficking and it dawned on me how true those statements are, not just in our personal lives, but in our every day lives. With wedding season having been kicked off yesterday night for me juxtaposed to the car wash today, the irony of Coehlo’s tweet has not escaped me.
You see, I have been leading a campaign for nine months to raise $18,000 to provide an attorney to prosecute human trafficking violators. Over the past months we have raised about one third of the money. We have tried other fundraisers which have brought in some money, but this one was particularly interesting.
Every first Saturday of the month I get a bunch of youth together to do what we call Project Service. We go out into the neighborhood or to church members and do odd jobs, or spring clean, one time we helped someone move, and in exchange we ask for nothing but some loose change. Usually, we get much more than our loose change quota, most people tend to write a check. I like this project because it teaches youth the true meaning of service while uniting our community’s multiple generations (something more communities need to do, in my opinion).
However, having done this a few months now, I have noticed fewer people needing help, or wanting to utilize the kids. I know it has nothing to do with their service, as those who have utilized us have come back multiple times or raved and recommended us to others. But we still are not getting the kind of response we had hoped. So this Project Service we held a car wash instead…the response was almost overwhelming! When we may just bring in $100 or so each service project, the response to this event was exponentially more than we had hoped.
We all had to step out of our comfort zones to serve people in the hot sun, often fighting exhaustion and the uncanny ability of youth to want to move like molasses (a battle against time if you do not want water spots on your car). Some of the kids had to do things they did not want to (like hold signs or Armarol tires), they had to go against what they were used to doing in a Project Service. The outcome could not have been better.
When I went to the wedding last night I found myself watching the bride with her family and realized that she and her new husband, though close to their families already, were going to have to expect changes. They were going to have to try new things and figure out new holiday schedules. I then looked across the table and saw four couples sharing in a meal with me. All friends. As I watched them interact I realized they were all heading into a whirl wind of change, one moving across country, one getting married, one just starting a new job, and another dealing with the post-graduation now-what mentality.
I thought to myself how silly we all are as kids thinking that life is never going to change, that things will always be as they always were. Coehlo was right. Changes happen when we go against everything we’re used to.
You see, life may be, as Mr. Gump says, like a box of chocolates, but it is so much more than the chocolate covered macadamia nut. For life is not the box, or even the chocolates, life is the reaction to the chocolate. Do we run for cover when we get the nuts we are allergic to, or do we learn how to see and avoid them? Do we show our dislike on our faces when a bitter dark chocolate comes up, or do we learn to appreciate even the bitterness?
We cannot expect change to happen in our lives, to run towards our goals, to share them with people when we continue on the known path. We cannot expect change to happen when we cling to the past and barely see the present. We must learn from our past, taking that knowledge of what works and does not, and incorporate it into something much more magnificent than our past. For it is our future that we run towards, leaving the past behind us, lest we weigh ourselves down.
We cannot hope to move forward if we do not go against what we are used to, if we do not fight to break free from our comfort zones. Change is life. Therefore, we must set our goals, go against ourselves and fight through our comfort until we find that we are uncomfortable, for in that discomfort we find not only what we want, but who we are and what we are capable of accomplishing.