Fill it Up Again

I’ve been having trouble feeling inspired lately.

Those who know me in most capacities probably find this hard to believe, as most of my days are spent in a seemingly stupefied awe of interactions unfolding around me or in amusement from the tiniest jokes or in a state of existence so blissful it’s annoying. There have been excellent reminders along the way, like my time spent with 33 critically-thinking college students at Engage Chicago the past 6 weeks, the 5 days of “refill” from my OASC Senior High II staff, and my cross-regional road trip to see a best friend get married/gape at a meadow heaped in flowers/eat chex mix at a tried-and-true friend’s kitchen table at 1am. But an unidentifiable ingredient in my usual spriteliness has taken a vacation and I’m feeling the loss in a deep way on the daily.

The Universe knows it, too, and has really amped up its game– I have been feeling, seeing, tasting, hearing, and smelling (no joke) its magic that’s been sprinkled on me during this weird period:

  • My daily emails from “The Universe” have been hitting the mark over and over.
  • My SH2 parting wish to my young leaders for “kindness of strangers” has rippled back into my life when I least expect it– like when my old pal Evan or former roomie Britt show up on my train ride. Or when that curmudgeony old man who made fun of me for being a sucker over a free cucumber sample I ate treated me to a free one. Or when the contagiously, authentically positive manager at Soupbox hunted me down outside the store to give me– fo’ free– the last ladleful of veggie chili for the road on a chilly summer afternoon.
  • The rhythm of the city beneath my toes was so powerful last week that I walked eight and a half miles through the city after walking three on the 606 (Bloomingdale Trail) and playing 2 beach volleyball games (one of which was with a group of strangers from U of M #gobucks)
  • The smell of freshly-baked banana bread and cool summer days and hot summer days and Kelly Dull’s freshly-baked goods and lilac bushes and and and and
  • I keep being surprised by unexpected snail mail letters from friends, emails saying someone is coming to crash on my couch or reunion-planning time is near, texts from fellow foodies reminding me we should dine together soon, and skype chats that incite the excited sharing of fantastic news.

I could go on for pages. REALLY.

I’m feeling it in the air everywhere I go and do not take for granted the many opportunities put before me to meet new friends or try new things or cry at the fullness of it all (h/t American Beauty and Troy Sweebe! July 23 is my new favorite holiday, FYI).

And yet…

Here I am, telling my near-dead blog that I am suffering from a congé de chutzpah. Le sigh.

I think part of it has to do with some lack of balance and over-filled plate I am constantly trying– and failing– to reign in. And if I’m to be genuine in reflecting, I think some of it has to do, too, with all of the heavy, HEAVY work I am encountering every day. Mission-driven nonprofit work and a conscious, CONSCIENTIOUS life of engagement are tough, yo– there is so much we as humans have to encounter, bear witness to, trudge through, and be helpless before— and I am still, after all these years, figuring out how to navigate it all but knowing that I can at the very least hear people’s stories and serve as a companion to all those whose paths I cross. It’s quite the meager offering in relation to what others are faced with en la lucha de la vida, I fear.

And moments when I am able to embrace that role, or (even better!) when I have the good fortune of seeing someone else shine in that way, are what fill me up. Just yesterday, one of my ECers called me on her way home from work because she “met someone” as she got off the train to head home after work who was looking for a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and no one would help her…until she approached the young woman I know. The hegemonic & systemic circumstances that led to my student meeting that young (pregnant!) woman empty my faith and leave me feeling broken, but the chain of love that good people in the right places at specific times help to perpetuate and restore is, ultimately, why I can carry on believing that it’s all worth it.

“This is why we’re here,” as The Three Questions would encourage me to take note of.

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Remember to put your caps of kindness on tomorrow, folks; it’s gonna be another potential-laden one.

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