I'm not familiar with this type of writing, and have never had a blog for that matter, so let me apologize in advance for my inexperience. I'm of the belief that language is at once as liberating as it is confining, and I often get frustrated with how poorly I relate my ideas through my writing. I'll try my best to keep this interesting while remaining informative.
For starters, I'll give a brief synopsis of what exactly my plans are, what the Rising Star program entails, and what I plan to do after. If you want to save yourself some undergraduate summary about Rising Star, head over to risingstaroutreach.org.
For those who decide to brave my overview: On July 9th (tomorrow) I will be flying from San Diego to Chicago, where I will be meeting up with my cousin, Nelson Morris. (More on why I am flying out of San Diego later, and some thoughts on my cousin in the next blog). From Chicago we head to Frankfurt Germany, and then from Germany to Chennai, India. We will be in the air for 21 flight hours and if you count time zone changes, will be traveling for almost 40 hours. Literally on the opposite side of the world, to the armpit of Asia. We'll stay in a hotel for a night in Chennai, and then the following morning we will be taken to the Rising Star Outreach enclave next to a leper colony.
After arriving to the enclave, the charity work begins. In the copy/pasted words of Rising Star,
Volunteers alternate on different days between going into the leper colony to medically administer to the lepers, teaching the colony children at the enclave, and assisting the lepers in creating their own businesses to allow them to get capital through other means then just begging. As they say, give a man a fish and he will be fed for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll never go hungry again.
Somewhere during those two weeks in Chennai, the volunteers and I will fly out to Delhi to check out the Taj Mahal and become more cultured in the Indian ways. You may have seen the Taj Mahal before... but if you haven't:
Once the program is over, my cousin and I will depart from Chennai and connect through Frankfurt again, and then stop in France for a few days and see what all the fuss over 'Paris' is about.
Bam. A not so brief, brief summary.
Now to my own thoughts and musings on things (mixed in with quotes from wiser and better people)...
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”- Mahatma Gandhi.
I find this quote extremely fitting for this personal journey I am undertaking. And not just because it's from an Indian Guru whom I revere. As of late I've had to go through a tremendous amount of soul searching. The typical questions that everyone asks 'Who am I? What is my purpose?' As well as:
Is 'man' as Hamlet believed?
"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, howinfinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals"
Or, is man more like the man which the world renown behavioral psychologist Skinner believes him to juxtaposingly be?
"How like a God? Nay, how like a dog".
Anyways....those are some questions that have been percolating in my mind.
Besides wanting to get in touch with my altruistic side, help others, and answer those above mentioned questions, I want to gain a greater gratitude and appreciation for the life I live. I KNOW that I am one lucky son of a gun. I have never been at want for good food, good clothes, good education, and good love. I have never known the depravity of disease, the sickliness of starvation, nor the ultimate loneliness of being deprived of human touch and love as these lepers have known. And yet, despite my knowledge of how blessed I am, I still don't FEEL how blessed I am. I hope you understand the distinction I am trying to make. Call me ungrateful, spoiled, or whatever title I understandably deserve, I still at times feel the 'woe is me'. I still find myself at times caught up in my self pitying sorrow of how 'life is so unfair' to me. And I know I shouldn't. But yet I do.
I can only imagine the reaction some of these lepers would have if they could see me when I am in the self pitying mode. I imagine it would be somewhere between hysterical laughter and utter disgust.
I venture to the other side of the world and back to FEEL how blessed I am. And If I gain this feeling, and nothing else, it will all have been worth it.
I'll update this once I get to Chennai... Until then, 'keep your feet'(yes, there is a Middle Earth theme to this blog)!
Oh and as an example of how good I have it: I've spent the last week in a condo on the beach in Carlsbad, California, with loving family and friends. Here are some pics:
Mom and Me
The Whole Beach Crew
It can't be that hard...
Frame 1: Awhhh Yeahhh
Frame 2: Some turbulence
Frame 3: Not as easy as we thought