I haven’t been blogging recently, partly because I’ve been suffering from a bit of writer’s block, and partly because I’ve been busy – not just too busy to blog, but also too busy to do many of the traditional frugal activities that I frequently blog about. But the busyness has been good. I’ve been busy at work, but with a variety of interesting activities – giving and attending skills building workshops and trainings, preparing for conferences, organizing a staff retreat, finishing up a social marketing campaign. And in my spare time, I’ve been out having dinners and discussions with friends, attending lectures and community workshops and spending time with family. I’ve taken some steps towards completing my annual fun goals list. I’ve started climbing again, I went to see a band play that had a big cult following around here but was completely new to me, and I’ve started planning my Hawaii trip. I also have some tentative plans shaping up for New Years which might include several of my “outdoorsy” goals. And I’ve been participating in activities that aren’t on the list, but which would certainly qualify as new and interesting. When I think back to how difficult my last year was, I recognize now that I’m feeling back in the game, that is the game of enjoying life and feeling alive again.
I don’t often write about my job, but I want to write about it tonight. I work for an AIDS Service Organization, running a program for HIV positive people that provides skills to improve overall health, foster community engagement and facilitate involvement in HIV prevention efforts. I’ve learned so much from the participants in this program. As a former social researcher, with an educational background in social justice, I really thought I knew the world, but I didn’t. I can’t believe how much I feel awakened by learning about other peoples’ perspectives and life experiences. What it’s like to live with HIV, and the variety of experiences within that category. What it’s like to live with stigma. What it’s like to have an addiction. What it’s like to lose your children. What it’s like to live on the streets. What it’s like to be gay. What it’s like to live with homophobia. What it’s like to be discriminated against at the hospital, or at work, or by the government, or by your family, or by all of the above. Broadening my depth and breadth of knowing the world has been such a fulfilling experience. It’s a real awakening, and I’m grateful to the people who have shared their experiences with me. I always wanted to work in this field because I thought it would help me make a difference. But I think it’s made me a better person.
What could we want more than just to know our world? I want to be an explorer in life. That’s why I studied Sociology, because I found the world around me fascinating. Its quirks and strangeness intrigued me and I found the eccentricities of every day social life endearing. I adored the mysteries and curiosities of social life and wished to know it better. How lucky I am, then, that in the past year of this work, I have learned so very, very much.
So this is a note to say, unequivocally, that life is not about the acquisition of stuff. It is not even about the acquisition of knowledge. It is about exploration, adventure, understanding. It is about learning, growing, being touched by other people, discovering a richness to life, learning about compassion. At this moment, I don’t care if my world view is different from the mainstream. I don’t care if I haven’t passed the milestones of marriage, children, home ownership, or a corporate ladder. I’m learning about the world, the people in it, and what it means to be human. What could be better than that?