Full of love, never alone

I was talking with a colleague yesterday during lunch and the topic of giving back came up. How often do we sit in our own world and think about how hard our life is each day? What if we took time each week to help out another individual? I do not mean just to sit and listen. I mean something that we do with our entire body. We help out in a soup kitchen, donate our time in a homeless shelter, adopt a family, be a big brother or sister.

I spent many hours each week doing community service in college. There was a part of me that related to those in need. Obviously I did not relate to the incarcerated youth I worked with each week. I related to their need and desire to matter. I related to their desire to be cared for, loved, and respected. I taught a writing course one evening a week, and while there were times where I was absolutely out of my element (not on the writing portion) but on relating to teenage boys who did something in their life to be incarcerated. How did I have a clue what they needed? How do we ever really know what another individual needs?

Back to my lunch conversation. We discussed that many of us in our own ways want to support and give to others in our community.  At times when we might feel most alone in our life and might not know how to give to others is when our world has been turned upside down. Yet, maybe that is the time when we need to give the most. When giving pulls us out of our own mucky world and shows us all that we truly have each day. How do we do it though? How do we get out of our comfort zone and take the leap to get out of our own world and make the difference in someone else’s life?

I have always told Chris that whatever child/children we might have, community service, taking care of our neighbors, and giving back is something that will be integral to how we raise them. I want them to see the difference between the have and have-nots. I want them to know that the world is full of people who are very different. We should never take for granted where we come from and all that we have in the world. Sometimes our gratitude comes from seeing all that we have through the lens of another person. If we are full of love to give to others how can we ever feel alone?

Are you into Orange?

We just finished Season 2 of “Orange is the New Black.” The show is clever, fascinating, complex, and while maybe you figure out the surprises, it still entertains. I remember after watching a few episodes of the first season, I point-blank say to Chris: “I never, ever want to go to prison.” What hell it must be. I am sure that every prison and jail is different, especially depending on its level of security. Regardless of whether it is maximum or lower, I want nothing of it.

“Orange is the New Black” showcases a women’s prison and I can only image what it is like to mix women and men that are locked up. Maybe that is not even possible, which tells you how much I know about prisons…but this blog is not about how much I know about the incarcerated. I did a stint in college for what we called “Community Service” with a local juvenile correctional facility. I facilitated poetry and writing courses with the young men that were in the facility. It was fine to me. I never really felt unsafe. I was definitely a minority, and most of us that frequented were white in a mostly black facility. These boys craved interaction, and having someone focus on them, and so most responded well and seemed quasi interested. Maybe they were just bored, or maybe they had never really been exposed to writing, poetry, and their feelings.

While I was at a fairly nice liberal arts college, the surrounding community was not as affluent, and mostly farming. I am not sure what access they had to literature or exposure to their own writing. Yet since they had plenty of time to themselves each day, writing might have been just what they needed to process their thoughts. And, maybe it was just a way to have interactions with individuals from outside the facility.

Back to the women’s only prison. “Orange is the New Black” was created by Jenji Kohan, the creator of “Weeds” and she is clever. She has taken a mostly unknown cast (with the exception of Jason Biggs, Michael Harney, Laura Prepon, and Pablo Schreiber). Taylor Schilling plays the main character and she has definitely made a name for herself.

If you have not seen it on Netflix, you will want to spend a weekend or two this summer watching both seasons. It will make you appreciate all that you have, your safety, and that being good is not without its benefits.