The month-and-a-half since my last update has been an eventful period – not just for me, but for the world.
I’m sure you know what I mean: protests around the world against systemic racism, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans’ refusals to acknowledge said pandemic, and a slew of other events that seem to indicate that the world is falling apart.
The world is falling apart, but perhaps not in an entirely bad way.
There’s a quote from Herman Hesse’s novel Demian which reads, “The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world.”
In other words, meaningful change is never easy. To make room for something new, we have to leave the familiar – but confining – world that we’re used to.
The protests against systemic racism; the U.S.’ inability to address COVID-19; the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and countless other (often Black) men and women who didn’t deserve to die; the alarming loss of biodiversity; climate change – these are all indications that it’s time to discard the old systems that promote division and suffering, and to create something better.
However, this doesn’t just apply to systems of government, but to our own lives. Speaking of which…
A New Venture
In my previous update, I mentioned that all of my plans for this summer had been derailed by COVID-19. For a while it looked like I was going to lose both of my jobs, too.
I wanted to make sure that, even if I couldn’t find a real job during this tumultuous time, I would have something to do that would move me forward. In addition, I longed to be able to focus my attention on one major pursuit.
This is because I’ve learned that I’m at my best when I have a single, overarching goal that takes precedence over everything, and that’s big enough to allow me to fully immerse myself in it. For instance, I felt completely alive while solo-traveling in Belize – a country I’d never been to before – and while rushing to finish my master’s thesis in approximately half the time it took my cohort members (because I started late).
On the other hand, when faced with multiple tasks that seem mundane to me, I simply can’t do them unless I place myself in a high-energy environment, like a busy café. As you know, that’s not an option right now.
Finally, as I said before, I also wanted to get back outdoors.
Thus, when I (temporarily) lost my jobs to COVID-19, I applied to an AmeriCorps position in Colorado through an organization called American Conservation Experience (ACE). I’d been looking into AmeriCorps for years, and it seemed like a good way to gain experience, make contacts in a new area, get back outside, and allow myself to be consumed by a single goal for several months.
Despite considerable uncertainty, I got the position. I’ll be moving to Boulder, Colorado on July 6 with three other corps members, where we’ll spend the next five months performing various conservation-related tasks.
While I don’t know exactly what we’ll be doing, I know that the work will be physically demanding: we’ll be working 10 hour days in rugged terrain – which will take some getting used to – but we’ll have three days off every week to recover.
And even though this won’t be a job per se, this position comes with surprising benefits.
My coworkers and I will also have our housing taken care of, along with much of our food and transportation, we’ll receive a bi-weekly stipend; and, if we finish the whole term, we’ll be eligible for education awards that we can apply to our student loans and/or tuitions.
All-in-all, then, I’d say this AmeriCorps position is a good opportunity. Most importantly, I know it’s something I’ll enjoy.
I’m not sure if this will be a temporary venture, or if it’ll lead to something more permanent, but for the next five months my top priorities will be my duties to ACE/AmeriCorps.
Thus, while I’ll do my best to keep you all informed on how this new direction pans out, I can’t promise that I’ll post every week. I have lots of exciting content lined up though, so you’ll definitely be hearing from me at some point.