With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
My blogs are usually about relationships, identity, art or race. I have so much thought swirling around inside it often causes me discomfort.
I don’t want the discomfort to go away. I want to understand it.
Why do I feel so deeply about life? Once I can reconcile with my purpose I can carry on.
The more I read, see, hear, taste, sense brings me closer to this understanding. And writing blogs like these opens me up in active ways my passive verbalizations rarely do.
I have mentioned my susceptible self, as spongy as ever. And in this Sunday afternoon, as Paul van Dyk and his merry disciples spin their entrancing web of sound in our apartment, I am alive.
The struggle for my soul continues torn between my love of writing and my desire to connect with the disenfranchised. My social work vocation is true but my usefulness is found wanting. I want to do more but I am no more than a licensed caregiver visiting shut-ins at times.
Shut-ins is a term from my childhood. My mother would listen to prayer requests in church, write down the names and locations of those members of the congregation currently or permanently infirmed and during the week would visit them. She had a list of individuals she would regularly visit in nursing homes and sometimes, when I had a day off from school due to holiday, conference or illness (if I wasn’t contagious) I would accompany her.
Having been a daily empathizer to this population for almost a year now, the term carries more weight than ever before. The idea of being shut in and unable to leave without permission is a powerful degradation made even more potent when it is individualized.
What I’m doing now allows me flexibility but it isn’t very satisfying.
And so we get back to me. What is satisfying for me. The conflict within my vocation ties me in knots. How do I do more when I don’t know what to do?
Just a sliver of uncertainty, a trace of doubt and the existentialism chasm reopens. Is social work, as broad a field as this, merely a springboard for something greater in my life? How is writing involved?
I feel a strong pull towards addressing social injustices in this country and abroad including mental health, race, gender and orientation. The people who have fallen between the cracks have assumed squatter’s rights in my brain. Their stories often extend beyond my job. Like an overzealous reporter, my passion for writing often overtakes the ethical privacy of my cranial tenants.
When I write I wish to give voice to their concerns and draw attention to society’s phantoms. My opportunistic side sees rich history and dialogue begging for an engaging narrative. After all, truth is truer than fiction.
I’m on the tightrope for sure. A large part of social justice is in battling exploitation. Using another person for personal gain regardless of possible harm is not cool. Neither is being a hypocrite. That said, the ease with which I dance along the edge fascinates me.
I believe my dilemma remains because I want it to. I want to be a person who helps people help themselves. I also want to write. And I often want to write up a conversation in which a person helps someone help themselves.
This is only scratching at the surface. I know I not only have the potential but the obligation to do more.