Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Do I Stand For?

I was sitting with my (former) roommate Mike last night, having drinks, and lamenting my current existential crisis. I knew that I had to figure out my direction in life, what it's all for, before I dove back into work again... because once work hits, I won't have time or energy to even ask these questions to myself. It will be work and managing my health to work, and what's this all for again?! I needed to figure out now, during this break in my contract, what I stand for and what I want out of life. I needed some guiding star, otherwise, what's the point? So Mike told me the story of two women stuck by tragedy...

Both had lost their children to violence: one to a gang shooting, and the other to a hate crime. Both women were obviously devastated by their loss. Neither he nor I could imagine the pain that either of these women suffered. And one woman, justifiably so, was left broken and shattered by the experience. She hasn't recovered yet, and no one blames her, because of her experience. But the other woman used her grief to fuel a not profit organization that turned into the NOH8 (No Hate) campaign. She took her pain and turned it into something amazing for others.

It's not difficult for me to answer the question in that song: "What do I stand for?" That's easy. I stand for the rights of the disenfranchised---those struck by chronic invisible illness, who are disabled by their disease, who can't advocate for themselves because they are too busy trying to manage their own illness, and the havoc it brings. I want to shine a light in the darkness to say, "Hang in there... You don't have to walk this alone. I know what you're going through, I've been there myself. Whatever you're going through---no matter how helpless and hopeless you feel---you still have value to me. You're amazing for what you're trying to survive. Give yourself props!"

What I don't know how to do is work towards that goal and work at the same time. I know what I need to do to get my message out there, but that takes a lot of work... work that doesn't pay. So I need to find a way that I can work for what I stand for, and still keep a roof over my head and medication in my system. THAT is what is totally daunting to me. Trying to figure out how to survive in the meantime... oh, that's big.

But I do have something to stand for, and it's about time I got back to it. I'm not like other people, walking around, wondering what their life is about. I know very much what my life is about. I know very much my purpose. Most people aren't that lucky. I found out that my best friend from college died day before yesterday, and it shook me. He was only a few years older than me. We never know how much time we have on this planet. Time for me to stand up.