As a part of my current “Yes Year” plan, I decided to go on the Study Tour with the university. I am currently working towards getting a credit on volunteer tourism. This was a bit of a foreign concept for me, so I was apprehensive at first. The course entails a main section being a trip to Orlando, Florida to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity partners. As another part of the course we are required to read the textbook: The Voluntourist by Ken Budd. I use the term textbook loosely as it isn’t like any other I’ve had. This book is a collection of stories of Ken’s trips to volunteer around the world, following the death of his father.
I have decided to use some of the quotes that stick out to me to inspire my writing for the next week as I finish it. Today as I sat in the lobby of the dentist office I read his chapter on an Earthwatch volunteer trip to Equador. I read one passage and it immediately struck me.
“For we the survivors, our mission-our obligation- is to live and to laugh and to learn, and to pry joy from life, and to bring joy to others, and to strive, as I know Dad strived, to help more people than we hurt.” (p. 186)
Many people search their whole lives to try and find the meaning of their life. Why we are here, why are we ourselves alive? When we reflect on those we have lost, we often wonder why it wasn’t us in their place. The truth is that life is so unpredictable, and for every individual, their reason for being here may be different. What each of us strives for is dependent on ourselves and no one else, but what would the world look like if we all took Ken’s approach? If each of us strive only to help more people than we hurt, would the world not be a beautiful place?
I believe that although the details may be different, we can all find meaning in our lives this way. Whether it is buying a warm drink and sandwich for someone on the street, or it is as simple as being there for a friend when they need someone to listen. Helping someone isn’t something that has one definition, or takes place in one isolated vacuum of time and space. We often help people in ways we do not see. The hello we say to a stranger may make their day, the two dollar tip we give our taxi driver may hep him pay for groceries for the week. Believing in someone can make a world of difference.
It may sound simple, and that’s because it is simple.
“When it’s me on this bed… I don’t want any regrets. I don’t want to be defined by my dissapointments.” (p.212)
One simple way to achieve this is to help more people than you hurt and that starts with yourself. Have faith, be kind and believe in yourself. It’s the first step on your journey.