One of the things that I like about life is its dynamic quality--it keeps changing and shifting and giving us new things, as long as we let it do so. One year ago, for example, I was teaching in a place that offered me very little in the way of growth and change, and it kept my wife and me living apart for almost eight months. Because of our situation, we decided to move to a beautiful area of the world and see what life would give us as far as opportunity is concerned.
I found work at a school that I really love teaching at, and I've also been able to offer and organize a week-long trip to Spain for the students. We'll be leaving in five weeks, and it's a very unique opportunity for the students who live in a very low-income area of Washington.
While the work is often difficult and taxing, it's very rewarding, and I'm able to offer things that I wasn't able to offer at the other school. I get to work with students from kindergarte to high school, and I get to contribute in a very real way to the community. For example, the other day I was talking to a friend at the school, and we got on the topic of the 100-mile run that happens every August in the community. A couple of hours later, I was registered for the run.
By no means had I been planning on doing a 100-mile trail run in August, so all of a sudden, my life has changed. I now have to start training for the run, and that training had been nowhere in my future before last week. I also have to do at least one 50-mile trail race to get ready for the longer one, and I need to be ready for that in nine weeks.
In other words, my life has changed for the next six months. But that's okay, because I believe that it's important to go with the flow of things, and to allow myself to be caught up in some things that are worthwhile endeavors. If I weren't able to do a 100-mile run, I obviously never would have signed up, and I certainly wouldn't go with the flow if it had me doing something that was immoral, illegal, or just plain stupid (though I'm sure there are people who would claim that the run is a bit stupid).
If we want to get the most out of life, we need to keep our eyes and ears and hearts open for opportunities to contribute. I'll be the first person with a tie to the town and school ever to run the race, so I'll definitely be contributing to the community. And we also need to be willing to make some sacrifices if we're going to contribute--a lot of things that I had been planning on doing will have to be put on hold, since I'll have to spend a significant amount of time training now. Life is always giving us chances to live it fully, but often we view those chances with fear and trepidation, for they somehow represent a threat to us. But they're only threats to the status quo--and is the status quo always what we want to maintain? Bodies of water that don't change their water regularly grow stagnant, and become hosts to all sorts of ugly and dangerous things. It's the flow that keeps the water--and our lives--fresh.
One little conversation changed much in my life--and being open to make changes that the conversation implied helped a lot, too!