Saturday, February 2, 2013

30 for my 30th

I am turning 30 this year.* 

Several of my friends have already been through this milestone birthday so I both expect to survive it but also to dread it quite a bit.  I don't want to dread this birthday, or treat it as just some other day in some year. I want it to be something really grand.

And for more complex reasons, I've been thinking about my legacy a lot lately.  I've got this PhD, which is cool, but I don't exactly use it for curing cancer.  I've had some great students, but they were destined to do great things before they met me anyway. I've been living in Totem Lake for about a year now, and I don't know a single soul in this community. I'm ok with the fact that I'm not going to win a Nobel Prize, but I still think I should still have an amazing life.  That's what it's for, right?

The day that Matt and I moved into our house, we jumped into the hot tub after dark.  The house was a mess, filled with our cheapo college furniture and all our dusty stuff that our friends and family mercifully helped us move over. We were exhausted from the move.  On our back porch, steam from the hot tub glossed all that over and we just looked at each other and said, "This is it. That's all I want."  I felt like I have no more ambition for myself; I've got a great house, a great job, a great life where I have tons of free time to myself.  To quote my brother, "This is why I went to college."

But, I still get the nagging feeling that I could be doing better, living a better life.  Be more connected to my community, and live a life of service.  That's important to me.

A huge amount of my 20s was spent on myself.  Getting through college, getting through grad school, finding a job.  These are things you have to do for yourself, and are important so that for the rest of your life you can focus outward a bit.  Now I feel like I've got those things mostly under control, I'm ready to start thinking outward. I've been thinking about various places I would like to volunteer with and support, and it's hard to find a single thing that seems like it's going to fill up that feeling.  I worry a lot about hunger in my community, but the FoodBank mostly seems to need volunteers during the week.  STEM education is really important to me, but it's hard to know which volunteer opportunities make a difference.

I had this idea on the bus one morning, and I need you all to support me in it.  It's too hard to find any one thing that will be as important as I want to be.  What if I do something HUGE instead?  Instead of fussing over whether one little thing is more important than some other little thing, I'll just do a BUNCH, and that will be a Big Deal.

Here is my idea: 30 projects for my 30th birthday.  Each project either takes 30 hours, or raises $1,000 dollars.  Think about it, we could raise $30,000 or 900 volunteer hours- how cool is that?? 

And, actually, that brings me to the next part.  You know what I want for my birthday this year? Your time or money, invested in our communities in the service on one another.  Help me in my efforts to raise money, or to rack up volunteer hours by taking on a project of your own, or supporting one of mine.

I haven't figured out how I will track all this yet, or what all these projects should be, but you will be hearing about it in the coming weeks.  I figure I have from now until my 31st birthday to get it all done.  That's more than a year to do meet this audacious goal, either by myself or with your help. So will you help?

* in July, don't freak.

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