Friday, December 26, 2008

my christmas spirit.

In my bubble, I thought that someone telling me that they didnt want to be in a relationship with me was biggest disappointment in my life. Like I said in my previous post, I really liked this guy, thought it was mutual. bla bla bla, you know how the short story goes. Anyways, I was really bummed out and I decided that this christmas I wasnt going to let me negative experiences bring me down. So, I signed up to volunteer at the food drive in downtown atlanta.
If you ever feel like your problems are too big for you, or that your world is falling apart because of a breakup, or a loss of a friendship, or something to that effect. Please do as I did, and your entire outlook on life, even if for a breif time, changes for the better.
I used to volunteer every year with my church for thanksgiving, but seeing as church turned out to be one of the many let downs in my life, it had been a long time since I had thought about someone other than myself in that way.
So on christmas, I start my day by watching the classic 'Its a wonderful life' and then headed back to atlanta from columbus ga. I stopped by CNN to have lunch with my friend jessica hopper, because she had to work on christmas and didnt have an option of being with her family.
Then I walked the 1.5 miles to the salvation army, and I got a little scared because it was definitely a sketch area. And im a little white girl walking it alone.
I get there and there are homeless peoplpe lines up outside, hanging out and drinking beer, and a fight broke out right in front of me. It was odd, to say the least.
I get inside, and I walk into the room where the volunteers are gathered, and there was a family there from Arizona, who had come to atlanta to see their grandpa and they all got together to volunteer, and as i walked in, they greeted me warmly and I joined in and sang christmas carols around the piano. Then another family walked in to help, and they had a little boy who was unique in the fact that he was a 12 year old boy who got a computer, phone, ipod, etc. for christmas and yet it was his idea to come to the shelter to help people. I was instantly drawn to him and he was my little buddie the whole day, it was super refreshing to realize there are still people like him out there in the world.
After them, a couple came in, and I talked to her and she and her BF are from new york and had recently moved to atlanta for a job transfer, and they didnt have family in town, so they decided to help others.
Finally, a girl walked in alone, and I thought to myself.. ok im not the only one who came alone.. there is another girl like me. Wrong, she was mandated to be there. She explained that she was in a rehabilitation institute in n. georgia. Intrigued, I asked the details of her life, and she is 18 and she gets out of rehab in two weeks and she brought her gpa up, so she gets to graduate with ehr friends in may from heritage high school. She explained that when she was 12 she got a bf that was older than her, he was going into high school and he was exposed to drugs, so feeling the pressure of fitting in, she began to do drugs herself, by the age of 14 she had an addiction to cocaine, ecstacy, and many others. She had not done drugs in 22 months and is going strong, she plans to apply for UGA when she graduates, and I pray she gets in. In simply talking to her, I share my life story of how I went through a very short drug phase when I was 18, it only lasted about 8 months but I did every drug offered to me (other than the crazy hard core stuff, lets get that clear) but I told her I understood, not necessarily what it was like to be addicted to drugs, but that I understood what it was like to be influenced in a negative way by a guy and how it could turn your whole world upside down without you even realizing it. The more we talked, I could tell she looked up to me in the sense that I knew exactly how easy it is to get yourself in situatiosn you wish you hadnt. She began to tear up and was like I have never had someone that I felt like understood as much as you do, and I dont even know you.. and are situations are so different. She took me number and I told her if she ever needed someone to talk to or hang out with, that she should feel free to call me. At this point in my day, the food bank hadnt even opened and I was already appreciative that I was so lucky not to ever have to experience that kind of peer pressure, I went all of my teenage years without ever feeling like I had to do something to fit in, and I guess I have taken that for granted, because I never realized how easy I got off in my younger years.
The food drive begins, and you had a few that I wondered why they were there, they were answering their cell phones at the table and Im thinking wait, that doesnt add up. Then there was one man who was bitching about the food and how he was a vegan and wanted a new plate without meat on it. And other than being hit on by every homeless in that place, most of them were very appreciative and wished us merry christmas as they left and thanked us for helpnig them.
There was one man inparticular, he was eating alone, and I sat down with him. And he asked me what church we were with, and I explained that we were not with a church, that we were just independantly voluntering. I explained about the family from arizona, and the couple who's family was in NY, and the girl how had to be there, and the other family with the boy. And he said well what about you, who are you with. And i was like no one, I came alone. He was like what colllege do you go to, and i replied GA state adn he was like oh what is your major and I said nursing, and he was like ohhh so this must be hours towards your degree, and iwas like no, we dont have that. I was like im jsut here. And I have never seen a grown man tear up the way this man did, but he put down his fork and wiped the single tear that came down from his cheek, and he said to me, I have made alot of mistakses in my life, I was in prision for 10 years, and little by little I am piecing my life together, but I have come here for christmas for the past three years, and I have never seen a young white girl like yourself take time from their world and their family to help a total stranger, he teared up again and he hugged me and said a simple phrase to me, he said "you restore my faith"
I began to tear up as well, because at that moment I realized why I was there, I had walked into that place with selfish motives for being there, I wanted to feel better about myself, I wanted to feel like my problems werent as great as others. But in that moment, I lost all sense of self. I genuinely wanted to help every person that walked passed me. In that moment I felt as if I didnt have a care in the world, not one single problem. And i began to thank that man and I said, you have brought me back to reality and I need to learn that life is life, its going to take you where ever it wants to take you, whether you like it or not.
I parted from the shelter and I was filled with the spirit of giving and joy, and of just life in general. I walked through centiniel park and bought a random drawing from a struggling artist, normally i would have walked right past, but as I walked through that park and saw all the families hanging out, and couples taking pictures, I was overwhelmed, because even though I was completely alone, I was grinning inside because I, for the first time in my life, understood the meaning of christmas.
Christmas 2008 was hands down the best christmas, and life experience I have ever experienced. I realized so many things that I want in life, when I do finally meet someone who likes me, and does want to be in a relationship, I want to spend christmas at a shelter, even if only for a couple hours, and when I have a family, I want to have my family doing the same thing I saw these families doing.
I walked away with new faces in my life, a new respect for life, and a new sense of self. When youre helping others, you lose track of your own troubles. If I had to give a life lesson that I learned yesterday, it would be this: That life is gonna come at you 500 miles an hour, we arent always prepared for the situations that are thrown our way, we arent always ready for some of the things we go through, but whether we are ready or not, they are coming. But do not dwell on things you can not change, it only gets you down, and the things you can change, change it for the better, spend your time thinking of more than yourself, because the world is a big place, you are just a spec on it.

No comments: