Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seeking: Volunteer hair!

Hello, my friends --

It's raining today. The clouds are dark and heavy. The sound of rain hitting the ground sounds like relief; it reminds me of someone sighing as they unload a heavy bag. I feel that same relief tonight. I am sitting here, watching a movie. I ate. I'm watching and doing nothing else. I am allowing myself the indulgence of doing nothing for one night: no meetings. No volunteering. No flurry of rushed e-mails and trying to cram as much as I can into my days as I can.

It's nice to sit. It's nice to take care of me for a few hours and to do nothing but enjoy myself. It's nice to sit and blog.

I have started writing this blog about a hundred times in the last month. I tried to write it during a training session where I learned that forty percent of Canadians are semi- to functionally illiterate. I've tried to write it after several disappointing wheelchair-related mechanical failures. I have tried to write knowing that there are people out there who really and truly read my blog (that are not my Mom!) and who really and truly like my blog (who are not my husband). I wish that, in and of itself was enough for me to blog every single day like a teenager with a diary. What a feather in my cap!

Here's the big question: how do I write about the things that affect and effect me without becoming redundant or preachy? It is my personal blog battle: to make issues that are important to me; important to everyone without becoming one of those people that nobody listens to anymore.

My battle as a blogger also translates itself into my personal life: how do I remain a staunch advocate for the things that I believe in and support without alienating people? Where is the line between advocate and whiner? Where and when do you draw that line? I'm not sure we always know the answer to that.

Sometimes I feel like I spend so much time advocating that my voice gets lost among all of the other advocates out there. So, I sat back and thought about it: how else can I get it out there? I need to find another way to advocate for myself and for the things that I believe in. So, I decided that this is what my blog should be used for. Social reflection. Thinking about what social action and social activism means to me, and using the blog as a spot to do that reflection.

After reflecting, you must be willing to act. To dust off, and get down to it. To be a part of the change that you want to see in the world, not just sit back and hope that it will happen someday. So I started volunteering again. I made a commitment to myself to become a bigger and more involved part of my community - to support the causes that are important to me; but also to support causes that are not as important to me so that I might learn about what it means to be someone who is not in my position.

So: I joined a choir. The Big Gay Choir. I wanted to align myself with people for whom I thought it was important to fight. By standing as an ally in a cause I had no vested, personal interest in to say, "what is important to you is important to me, because you are important".

And then BGC snowballed: I joined every committee I could to help support the choir. Committees turned into Pride; Pride to Second Harvest... 6 St. Joseph House, the Weekend to End Women's Cancers... you get the idea. Now, I look at my calendar each day...each week, and see nothing. No blank space. I have a meeting every night this week. I have a meeting every night next week (7 days, not 5). Today, while on the phone scheduling an intake meeting for a volunteer tutoring program, I was astounded to see (actually, physically see) that I have no free evenings until the first week of November. Really?!

And then, I went to the ladies room. And I cried. I cried so hard I shook. I've cried not for the loss of my free time (we don't have cable anyway), but for the fact that there is no real proof that any of the lost sleep; rushed e-mails and always being the first to say "I will take care of that" is doing one damned thing to change this world, or to change the lives of others.

At what point does it become less about giving back and more about leaving clumps of hair in the shower drain?

The good thing about clumps of hair in the shower drain? They give you the time and pause to stop and think: "tonight? I'm going to eat dinner, watch a movie and spend the evening with my husband". I'd volunteer for that any day.