August 18, 2013

Dream Big, Work hard: A Recipe to Change the World.

Seven o’clock p.m. is one of the most difficult parts of my day.

My son has just gone to bed. If I’ve timed it right, I’ve finished dinner. Maybe the dishes have even been washed. It’s already been a 12 hour day and as a single parent, all I want to do is lie on the couch and read a book, or sit beside the fire and stare at the flames.

But I don’t.

I make the choice to I sit down at the computer and begin my working day. I can usually get three hours of quality work done before going to bed at 10pm to get up at 6am and start all over again.

Tonight, I’ve got an article to re-work for elephant journal. An article or two to schedule for my own website. A PDF to finish writing, designing and finessing. An in-box that needs urgent attention. Some trouble-shooting on the tech side of things.

It would be easy to forget it all, have a glass of wine and just relax. Hell, I’ve earned it and I am my own boss.

But I don’t. I’m chasing my dreams and that means I’m working my arse off.

For this, I am so grateful. There’s so many people in this world who don’t have the choices I have, or the luxuries I have, or the opportunities I have. Sure, being a single parent 24/7 is bloody hard work, but I still have choices.

I’ve chosen not to put my child in childcare 40+ hours a week because I want to raise him myself—even though I think I do a lousy job at times. It’s just the nature of parenting. Sometimes we’re on, and sometimes we’re off, but it’s mostly me spending time with him—going to the park, building legos, encouraging artwork at the beach, going on walks. We hang out. And that’s a choice I’m grateful to have.

Then, after we’re done hanging out and he’s tucked up in bed, I hit the computer to chase my dreams—the ones that have nothing to do with motherhood.

I write, and I publish. And when it gets hard and I can’t be bothered and I’d rather read a book, I remind myself of the luxuries I have.

I’m a woman living in a first-world country in the 21st century. I’m safe, and warm, and dry. I have enough money to meet my basic needs by living frugally. No one is shooting at me, or attempting to sell me into slavery, or kidnap me.

I am one of the fortunate ones.

And that means I feel obligated as well—to do something with my fortune, to turn it into something that matters for the world.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not doing enough on that side of things.

We all know the world has gone mad. We know we can’t consume at the rate we’re consuming. We know the oil and gas industry is criminal. We know we’re raping and pillaging the Earth at an ever-increasing rate and still nothing seems to change. We share heart-breaking videos on Facebook and sign online petitions and click like on the things we hate such as shark-finning.

But what good does it do? Who does it really affect? What effect am I having on this world of mine? What impact can I have? Is there more I could do, more I could be?

I don’t have any answers to that, but I do know that doing my work, even when I don’t feel like it, is a step in the right direction. And I’m not talking about working myself to the bone either.

Child-rearing, while demanding in its own way, is also fulfilling in other ways. I manage to get in a yoga practice while my child watches cartoons for half an hour. We walk every day for an hour or two. I nourish myself.

Still, at 7pm, despite all that nourishment, I crave time to myself, by myself, doing nothing at all. And there will be time for that—down the line when my son starts school and I have 30 hours a week to devote to my work. Night times will likely be mine again. But until then, I’ll keep making the hard choices because I know what I want in life.

I want to chase my dreams.

I want to write.

I want to fulfill my potential—whatever the f* that is.

I want to explore life through words.

I want… what a luxury that is! And my wanting keeps me on track. That and my sense of obligation to this world and to the collective. I want to use my words to explore more deeply those things that matter to me and to us, and I want to build a platform where I can speak and be heard because so many of us are afraid to—speak truth, that is.

So I’m tired, so what. Tell that to the factory worker in a third world country pulling 16 hour shifts seven days a week just to get by—now, that’s tired.

Everything is relative. And sometimes, in our pampered first-world existences, we forget. We forget what it’s like to be desperately hungry, or what it’s like to be hunted and unsafe—threatened by guns and bombs. We forget what it’s like to be bone-tired or scared witless.

Remembering this keeps me grounded. Remembering all those mothers who can’t provide for their children at all, who can’t keep their children safe because they live in warzones, or who have lost their children to famine, reminds me that I am fortunate.

So what am I going to do with it? What can I do with it?

Once upon a time I wanted to be Prime Minister, or a diplomat. I wanted to move in the upper levels of government and make things happen. Now, I’m not so sure. I don’t know if that’s what’s going to change the world.

I suspect what’s changing the world is you and me—the ones with enough time and money on our hands to ponder the deeper mysteries of life and choose to dedicate our energy to things that matter.

Like speaking the truth of our lives. A small thing, no doubt, but more truth in the world has to be a good thing.

And learning how to love whole-heartedly. Again, a small thing, but more love in the world has to be a good thing.

So I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.

I’m going to keep turning up to the keyboard at 7pm after a full-day of child-rearing, to do my work. And I’m going to stay open to opportunities to increase the impact I can have, in some way, on the way this world is.

I’m going to stay informed, and connected, and present, and willing. That’s it really—willing to do what it takes, when the opportunity arises.

Because it will. Opportunities always do.

How about you? What are you doing with this one fortunate life you have?

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Ed: Sara Crolick

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