Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lifetime Volunteer?

This volunteer who has been in Peace Corps for five years is trying to decide if she wants to do another two year tour in another country, for a total of seven years.

Are you crazy?

Why would it be crazy to be a lifetime volunteer?  For those who are interested in careers, climbing the corporate ladder, saving for retirement, raising a family, worrying about health and health care, being married, then yes I can see why being a lifetime volunteer could seem like a crazy idea.

Nuns, monks, and priests are lifetime volunteers.  Are they crazy?  

I prefer donating time rather than money especially since I don't have any money.  Then go and get a job!  Earn some money and start donating.   I am afraid of money.  Because I have never had a salary higher than $20,000/year, I am afraid of how a high salary might corrupt me, turn me into a materialistic consumer with debt, trapped in an unhappy life of daily habits.  But is this desire to be a lifetime volunteer stupid and irresponsible?  (Please if you have an opinion, answer the question in the comments or an email.)

Over the past five years, I have lived an adventure.  I have met so many different people.  I have explored the lives of humanity, the desires, needs, wants, beliefs, and joys of people in different parts of the world.  I have lived the customs and traditions of a variety of cultures.  I have lived different lifestyles.  I have spoken different languages.  I have been a teacher and a student.  I have been cheated, angered, frustrated, and worried.  I have faced the challenges of learning who I am.

About my desire to be a lifetime volunteer to explore the world, Chris McCandless (Into the Wild) states it perfectly, "So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."


universalibrarian said...

I admire your adventurous spirit. People work in steady jobs for security now and in for the future. I know that is why while I might think about wild adventure that I have consciously and happily chosen security with moderate adventure in order to make marriage, long lasting community and children a priority in my life. I guess I would counsel you to consider what are your priorities. Right now you are unencumbered by other commitments. You seem happy, healthy and are adding something valuable to the world, if adventure, and volunteering is satisfying and important to you, perhaps some of the less important things will follow in time. Another priority for me is to ensure for a long future after I can no longer work. Even when putting money into the bank for this goal. I laugh a little because so many things are uncertain as the world careens into the 21st century that while I might engage in a discussion about market predicions and retirement risks, I am also thinking that banks and stocks aren't necessarily going to be there at all in an uncertain future. Travelling the world, investing in experience, friends, new skills, and an extended international community might be a better long term bet.
Best of luck and I am sure that your self reflective intelligence will help keep you safe from rampant consumerism if you choose to pursue a salary for a while and will keep you safe from insane risk on the backroads of the third world if you choose that path. Neither choice is binding and who knows, sometimes they circle back around to each other in the long run anyway.
P.S Here is a study that might be worth consideration on this subject:

Anonymous said...

In a way you are living the upper class lifestyle in these countries you are in, because you have an upper class standard of living provided to you (compared to other host country nationals), and you have more money than they do to spend indiscriminately, on travel, on clothing, on food and so forth.

Lisa R-R said...

This is definitely not stupid or irresponsible!
You have created space to do things most of us will never do, as we are tied to our day jobs and home locations.
If you decide to stay on for two years, you will help others and keep on learning!
If you decide you can't do it, I think you will find another way to continue to help others.
Thanks for your post.