A week from today I’ll be on a plane to Arizona to spend a lot of time with total strangers, doing something completely out of my comfort zone. By that I mean the trip will combine several experiences that I would normally rank below getting a tooth yanked out with no anesthetic: meeting new people, flying, and forced togetherness with no method of escaping the sensory overload this routinely causes introverts like me.
You may ask yourself why – and how – an unemployed woman in pretty, let’s be honest, crappy life circumstances could take time out from what should be a frantic job search to fly to the desert southwest and chill for a couple of weeks. I asked myself those same questions, believe me. And the answer turned out to be – to experience the lives of people in even crappier circumstances and maybe, just maybe, to get the hell over myself.
I’ll be working at a church based (yeah, I know) food bank that also has a group of volunteers who assist migrants in need. People who are trying to come to America for a better life, but who often get sent directly back to the dire circumstances they left, or who perish in the desert simply trying to find a way to provide for their families.
Click here to read a little bit about what the Sahuarita Samaritans do.
While I’m there I hope to write a bit about these people. Both the ones who find themselves in need and the ones who volunteer to show them some basic kindness and humanitarian aid. The ones who actually live “give me your tired, your poor…” instead of wrapping themselves in the flag and forgetting what this country is all about. But the selfish reasons I am going are what I want to address here. I need a kick in the ass. I need to feel a sense of purpose at a time in my life when I truly believe I have outlived my usefulness. My kids are adventurous spirits who have gone skydiving and travelled to exotic places, have lived on the other side of the planet, while their mother has sat at home in cement shoes, envious and timid. I talk a good game about taking chances and living your best life and being fearless, but it’s completely fraudulent. It’s wishful thinking.
So when Facebook acquaintance Curt Ackley proposed this trip to me I blew him off at first, thinking he couldn’t be serious, that he felt sorry for me and invented an excuse to make me feel like I wasn’t accepting a free trip out of pity. He persisted and I continued to put him off, nicely.
And then I thought…why the hell not? I don’t have anything else going on right now, aside from a demoralizing job search and a lot of feeling sorry for myself and wondering what to do with the rest of my life. I opened up my mind a little bit and wondered why this opportunity fell into my lap when it did. When I literally had nothing else to get out of bed for.
And I kept coming back to this idea: this is something the person I want to be would do.
Curt won’t mind if I tell you that I did a background check on him and also the more serious and reliable “friend of a friend of Connie Schultz” test and when he passed both I said yes.
So, screw that job search. Screw the deepening depression and feelings of worthlessness. Screw the self pity and the anxiety.
There are mountains and sunshine and vast expanses of starry skies to gaze at.
And if I learn a little something about myself along the way, even better.