People ask me why I volunteer when I already have a full life. How do you fit it in?, they ask. My answer, How could I not?
Here’s a story about what I receive from volunteering.
Anyone who knows me, knows how much I like words. The flow of a sentence that deems a sticky note on the side of the page. The quote that must be saved for future use. The image created by the words that are seared into your mind.
We all know that instant when you meet someone who has stayed in the same hostel you did in Machu Picchu, or someone who puts potato chips into their sandwich as you do. It is that kind of bond with a fellow word lover.
I met a lovely lady two decades my senior, dressed in a fashionable red jacket with ornate buttons, who loves words too. In our conversation about the type of books we prefer (non-fiction) we also discovered that we were both introverts, and liked garage sales. We talked about meditation, and simple living and connections however tenuous they might be with some family members. We both read because we both want to learn.
And oh how satisfying that was for me. Here was a classy woman who said that she'd “seen more than many just because I’m old” but still possessed the fervour for further growth. She had a bag of books by her side, she recommended some to me. She gave me more insight in a few hours than I anticipated.
We learned that in spite of where and when and how we each reached adulthood, the love of words brought us together. Organically. Without strategy. Without expectation. We could kindle our interest about a book from a hesitant flame into a roaring fire.
At eighty, she told me she was reading about preparing herself for the end of her life. Wow, I thought to myself, she is relishing her life through words. She was reading to understand what was coming and other fascinating things around her. And in our conversation she taught me more than a thing or two.
In any valuable connection you wish the time did not come to an end so quickly, although you are aware of each other’s obligations. You have things to do dear, she said to me as she offered me a hug. It topped off the gift she had already given me of her time, her wisdom, and her stories.
Most importantly, meeting her told me that you don’t know when the Universe spins to give you someone whom you need. I think she felt the same way.
Sometimes the Universe spins to give you what you need. (Click to Tweet)
She was reading about preparing herself for the end of her life. (Click to Tweet)