Hey everyone. I’m back after a short hiatus- my apologies if I left any of you waiting.
Ok- about to go on what may seem like a giant tangent, but stick with me…
I’ve been struggling to create something worth sharing. “Blogging” to me is not spitting back every detail of what I do on a day to day basis. If you want to hear about every detail of everyday, call me. (Right, I thought so…) On the contrary, my process of writing includes experiencing something, sitting on it for a while, and finally producing some kind of analysis of how that experience may fit into the greater scheme of my life. The process takes a lot of thinking, a lot of over-analyzing, and a lot of self-criticism.
As my new façade of “teacher Sydney” often says: let’s review…
My posts have touched upon varied aspects of my life. I’ve written about purpose. About bigotry and hatred and violence. About programs with TGC students and TGC parents. About kindness and about development and about sustainability. About being present. So, as I am struggling to create something new, I’ve decided to write something about how these concepts come together to create something else. And I hope that something is bigger than the parts of its whole. (math?)
And that something is goodness. A word we often hear but seldom take time to ponder.
Grafton, Vermont is my special place. It’s a picturesque little town in southern Vermont with a population of approximately 650. In Grafton’s valleys, one is gently cradled by magnificent foliage, rolling fields and streams, and sheep and cows beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. And oh yeah, a cheese factory. (Shit, I think I just gave away my family’s best kept secret.)
When Grafton’s general store closed a few years back, two young mothers, new to town, jumped onto a sinking ship to save this historical landmark. They weren’t ready to let such a beautiful part of a beautiful town go down without a fight. The two of them came in and took over the store with a mission of nurturing the town and the folks of Grafton. Their motto: “Be a purveyor of goodness.” And while I don’t think I’ve ever told them, it’s been something I try to live by ever since. Thank you, Ali and June, and MKT, for creating guiding lights for so many people.
I place a lot of expectations upon myself. We all do. We do something because we think we should. A Minerva Fellow at TGC may feel like there is an unspoken expectation to bring some new and entrepreneurial program to TGC that will transform the lives of the students and the staff. A fellow at Engeye or Witkoppen might feel like there is an expectation to bring innovative ideas to the clinics that will enhance patient care or increase the number of patients reached. And a fellow working with a new organization may feel like there is an expectation to blaze a path for fellows to come. But expectations don’t just haunt us Minerva Fellows; they spare no one, and they have harsh side effects. Lately these expectations have been weighing me down. My job is to come to work every day and educate. I’m struggling to find new and innovative programs that will interest students and be meaningful to TGC long term. There is always room to create something more, something that will benefit someone, somehow. But often when we create something just because we think that we are supposed to create it, it ends up becoming more of a burden than anything else. There are so many programs already being pursued at TGC, and I think my best efforts can be spent making them the best they can be, rather than creating something new because there is an unspoken expectation to do so.
Somewhere out in the strange galaxy we’re all a part of, everything intersects. Among those infinite intersections is one between expectation and purpose. To me, expectations are external, even if they are placed on oneself by oneself. Purpose comes from somewhere deep within. This is an intersection I have to fight every day, but I am learning to listen to my internal purpose over my external expectations. So, for now, until some other power tells me otherwise, my job is to work hard to make my classes the best they can be, and to work on current programs the school offers to bring them to a point of optimal impact. But my purpose is to be a purveyor of goodness.
In a conversation with my mom the other day, I was telling her about the current struggles of my job search. To no one’s surprise, I don’t know what I want to do with my life. But it’s ok because my parents have always told me that they (both successful business owners) still don’t know what they want to do with their lives. But my ailments don’t come from lack of ideas, rather an overflow of ideas. There are so many problems in society that I feel passionately about, so how does anyone pick just one????
My resolution: it doesn’t matter what organization I work for or what sector I’m working in, as long as I’m being a purveyor of goodness.
A side effect of my writing process is that I find myself always over analyzing and thinking critically about the simple things. I forget to be present and I forget to live in the moment. I have to remind myself that it’s ok to step back and take each moment as it comes. To understand things on the surface level, and to appreciate them for what they are. We don’t always have to be purveyors of goodness; there is goodness all around us. It is just as important to be a consumer of goodness. We just need to take the time to notice it.
Here are some of the moments of pure goodness from the past month that speak for themselves:
We live in a world that can be terrifying and lonely and often seemingly hopeless. Terrible things happen to us, to people we love, and to strangers every day, and in those moments, it can be hard to remember our purpose and our path. Those are the moments we need to dig deeper than we ever have, pick ourselves up from our bootstraps, and create the goodness that is too often stripped from us. If you take anything away from all of my ramblings, please let it be this: we all need to be purveyors of goodness. For the people we love, for our magnificent planet, and most importantly, for ourselves.