I'm exploring the roots of my desire/need/compulsion to "do good." I don't usually share personal stories here on Have Fun, Do Good, and I'm not sure where this is going, but I'm giving it a whirl. Here's the link to my first post, Why Do You Do Good? and my second post, Why I Do Good: The Center and Agape.
I was raised to serve.
In addition to being very involved with our church community, my parents' professional work was service-oriented. My mom had a variety of teaching and counseling positions while my dad worked mostly for nonprofits. Outside of his paid work, my dad organized CROP walks in our community, co-founded Martin House, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and Witness for Peace, and visited elderly people at the local convalescent home who didn't receive much company.
National Coalition for the Homeless, studied in Sweden for a semester (so that I could understand how their public policy worked), co-chaired Vassar's Hunger Action chapter, and wrote a couple pieces about social-changey things for the student newspapers.
Even though I was studying and doing things related to social justice, I ended up writing my senior thesis about the holistic health movement as a social movement, and my most transformative moment came from reading in the library one night about the Atman, or "world soul" in The Upanishads for a History of Religion class.
As I walked back to my dorm across the dark quad from the library, I remember the sky being incredibly full of sparkly stars, the grass feeling extra soft, and the people I passed seeming simultaneously close and far away. I felt a blissful, joy-filled rush of connection to all things and all people. I wasn't on drugs, but it felt like I was.
I've never had an experience like that again, but I think of it often, and wonder why I had it at that moment. I wish everyone could have that feeling at least once. If I could figure out a way to make that happen, I would do it in a flash.
Photo of stars at night by sukchander.