Thursday, 3 October 2013

Comfort Zones and Cozy Cocoons


Lalita Rao

I read an article on recently that made me sit up and think. Thoughts and questions popped up and zinged into each other at top speed in my brain.
- When you wake up in the morning, what inspires you to act? to do something different? to change the world? to (most importantly, for me) get OUT of your comfort zone in order to accomplish something? What level of sacrifice are you game for, in order to serve and bring peace, joy, love and happiness to others (that are not your family and friends)?
The person who set off an avalanche of thoughts and questions is Maggie Doyne, featured in the Dailygood article. At 18, she woke up one morning and decided that rather than go to college, she would travel the world during her 'gap year' (the year between high school and college). She ended up in war torn areas of Nepal and stayed. Seeing the impoverished children breaking stone to sell for food, and rummaging through garbage to collect discarded items, did something to her. Before she knew it, she had opened an orphanage, started the Kopila Valley school and now, runs a Foundation called The BlinkNow Foundation. At 23, she is 'mother' to 40 kids in the orphanage and 300 in the school. You can read details of the story on any of the links given here. I believe that with the blink of an eye, we can all make a difference, she says. Maggie called her parents and had them wire her $5000 - her entire savings from part time jobs - and spent it on building up the school.

Even as admiration for this youngster grew rapidly with every sentence I read, my head continued to be crowded with emotions and questions vying with each other. Prime among them was the question: how did she do that? Not in her town, city or even country. She went to a distant country, 8000 miles away, in a war torn and impoverished region, and set up an institution to house and educate scores of needy kids? How did she do that? Darn, I can babysit for two hours and want a four hour nap at the end of it.
Crazy, Cute or Inspiring?
Outlier stories run the risk of being too crazy, too cute and too.... unattainable! But there is nothing of the 'too good to be true' in her story. She is the real thing.
And that bothered me. A lot. Not because she is the real thing, but because I might not be. When Swami says, 'seva cheyyandi, seva cheyyandi', we say yes, yes, yes, imitating our Swami very well. But when it comes to actual executing, that darned comfort zone - it pushes us deeper and deeper into a cocoon of comfort and safety. 
[This is an odd place for a disclaimer, but here it is: when I say 'we' and 'us' it is just an expression of collective sentiment. No slight intended, or implied, to the large numbers of readers who don't fall into this category of cocoon dwellers].
We have all these conditions that have to be met before we can serve. Here are a few top of the chart conditions --
skill set fit
should not be too distressing
not too dirty
no other competing interests
no commitment required

....and so the list goes on. Service of convenience. A popular concept you might have heard of is that of the 'one-off service projects'. That is, you can sign up for a one time commitment of 2-4 hours to do a service project. It fulfills our desire to do service without a long term Commitment. That C word!! Combines well with a P word - Phobia. This is why Maggie's story made me uncomfortable - in a strange inspiring kind of way. Her's is a story of Commitment paired with the S word - Sacrifice. Of personal comfort, needs, wants. Who is kidding that this might have been an easy and fun 'project' for her? Only the good things show up in the article, I am sure. What did she get out of it, she was asked. Her answer: 

I get a bursting heart and 300 of the happiest most amazing little kiddos in the universe; hugs every day,  lots of laughs, family games [...],  too many Birthday parties to count, and more love than I could have ever imagined.  

Comfort zones and cozy cocoons wouldn't have given her this experience. Something to learn from, and be inspired.

(Lalita is a keen member of the SKM team and has been driving the activities and administartive tasks with great enthusiasm. Here she shares some of her thoughts and ideas on service.)

No comments: