I eavesdrop. I listen to people’s restaurant conversations. I strain to hear my coworkers converse. It’s a wretched habit, mostly.
When I was a kid, my dad’s parents would marvel over their nerdy granddaughter like a strange bug. They’d tell my mother how smart I was, like she was too blonde to know. They’d tell my parents I would be so rich, I could support them in their dotage. I hated it, because I felt less a girl, more of a redeemable asset. Just sit on it for 25 years, and you’ll be RICH!
I remember a time when they were arguing about whether I’d be a doctor or a lawyer. For the record, of the two Rich Professions my grandparents selected, I’d probably be a lawyer: I like to argue, and I like to win.
At the time, I wanted to be an astronaut, or an oceanographer. Someone eventually told me there was a lot of maths involved in aeronautics, and that dream died. Oceanography lost its charm when I narrowly avoided a barracuda (WAY scarier than Sarah Palin, FYI). I almost piped up, but remembered I was eavesdropping. My silence rewarded me with one of my most vivid memories of my mom.
She sighed. Evidently, she was as tired of these conversations as I was. She said, “I don’t care about any of that bullshit. I hope she grows up to be a humanitarian.”
My grandparents were skeptical. I took it to heart. The next year, I became a Girl Scout.
Nothing I do at my new job will ever be in the history books. I will be promoting the actions of ordinary people engaged in the extraordinary act of bettering their communities, and telling those stories will lead to bigger things. More funding, more visibility, and more recognition for their work. All of this is exciting, but none of it is more humbling than this: my new job revolves around engaging people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to live in service to their neighbors, their communities and the world.
When we were finishing my hugely long second interview, the director (MY NEW BOSS, GUYS!) told me they hire individuals who not only have the drive to make the world a better place, but idealists with a track record to prove it. He said that it was obvious that I was one of those people. Afterward, I told Matthew that even if I lost out on the job, the experience was worth it for that precious moment.
My life has been far from perfect, but I learn from mistakes. I have worked to align the Things I Do with the Things I Do For A Living. I know that’s a tricky line to walk; that money changes things, but I’m thrilled to put my Hanuman Heart to its purpose: conscious service.
I wish I could call my mom and let her know she was right. That she was right about everything.