When I quit my day job to travel across the country and “chase my dreams” I thought it was going to be the most thrilling year of my life.
And, to be fair, in many ways, it was.
At the same time, I’ll never forget the moment, about a quarter of the way into our trip, when my friend Sharaya and I stood at Mt. Rushmore, staring at what was supposed to be so monumental, and asking ourselves this question:
Wait… is that it?
In fact, we found the whole thing so unremarkable, so unimpressive, we weren’t even willing to pay the ten bucks (or whatever it was) to get into the park. We took a quick obligatory picture, and then went about our way.
We had bigger and more important things to do. You know, like eat lunch.
I don’t know about you, but for me, sometimes it feels like life is kind of like this. It seems like I travel so far to get to this place, this moment, and it’s supposed to be so amazing. But when I get there, I’m not as impressed as I wanted to be.
Or, I am impressed, but it wears off quickly when I get hungry or tired or bored and want something new and shiny.
New jobs. New outfits. New apartments. New stuff. New relationships. We’re all waiting for the next thing to make our life exciting, to make it meaningful.
Have you ever felt like that?
I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit and I think there are several reasons we feel like this. I think we’re so used to be entertained, we’re expecting our life to just happen to us. I think we’re so focused on “destinations” we miss what happens along the way. And also, I think we play it too safe.
Most of us play our lives way too safe.
I know I do.
This year I’ve been making a conscious effort to play my life less safe, and you know what? It’s been really hard. I’ve wrestled with anxiety my whole life, and although I’ve gained some control over it in the past decade, this year it’s really flared up.
Also, I’ve failed at more things. I’m not just being humble, I’m being real. I’ve been behind on more deadlines, been a worse friend and wife, and produced more bad art (consequently, I’ve produced more good art, too).
To top it off, I’ve also been judged for being “irresponsible.”
But you know what else? My faith in God has grown deeper than it ever has, and my capacity for love and empathy has grown wider than I ever dreamed possible. There has not been one single moment where I’ve thought, “This is it! My life is so exciting!”
But looking back over the past year, I feel the deepest sense of gratitude and meaning.
This is the thrill I was made for.
Unless you’re a social media hermit, I’m sure you’ve heard I’m donating my birthday this year to Restore International. I’m turning 30 on May 30th and instead of having a big party or a bunch of presents (I’m Packing Light, after all) I want to raise $30,000 to build a classroom in Gulu, Uganda.
And you know what?
I know this is crazy. $30,000 is a lot of money. To put it in context, it’s more money than Darrell and I made combined last year. But you know what else? I’ve never been more excited for a birthday, ever.
30 is going to be a big year for me.
Here’s the problem. I don’t know anyone with $30,000 (my guess is you don’t either).
Which means, if this is going to happen, it’s going to have to be a team effort. Strangely enough, this is part of the appeal for me.
I’ve never been much for asking for money, or even for help for that matter, but I’m already inspired by the way a community of people is coming around this project to make it a reality.
And I know money is tight right now. It is for us, too. Which is why I’m trying to get creative about how we can meet this goal as a community. Here are some thoughts that have come to mind as I’m brainstorming.
- Donating time. I often do freelance editing and copywriting to make extra money, and I’m going to donate 10 hours of my time to this project. If you’d like to hire me ($50/hr) I’ll share my services and donate all proceeds to this project. Contact me below if you’re interested.
- Selling stuff. I have a few vintage coach purses I’ve been hoarding for awhile. I definitely don’t need three of them, so I’m going to sell them for whatever I can get and donate the proceeds.
- Garage Sale. This is the time of year people are having garage sales anyway. Would anyone be willing to donate the proceeds of their sale to help me build this classroom?
- Bake Sale. I hate measuring cups and kitchen timers, so I’ll give you three guess if I’m good at baking or not, but this thought keeps coming to mind. Any bakers out there want to host a sale?
- Dinner party. I hosted a dinner party the other night in my community, and it was really fun. I made spaghetti and charged $15 per plate, and shared some photos and video of the location and the school. If you’d like to host your own dinner party, contact me below, and I’ll send you a really simple guide to planning!
- Car Wash. Well, it’s still snowing in Minnesota, so this definitely isn’t a viable option here, but this is how we used to raise money in youth group, so…
- 5k. I’m thinking of organizing a “remote” 5k where we could all run in our own cities or neighborhoods, but at the same time. Our friends could sponsor us to run. Does this sound fun to anyone but me?
- Benefit Concert. I’m working with a few friends to pull this off in Minneapolis in May. If you’re in the area, stay tuned.
- T-shirts. I have a designer who offered to design t-shirts for the project. If I had them made, would you be interested in buying one?
- Direct Donations. If you’d like to make a direct donation, click HERE.
Do any of these ideas sound fun to you? Would you like to host or participate in any of them? Do you have any other ideas I haven’t listed here? I can’t do this without your help.
In the words of Bob Goff, everyone is invited! Consider this your formal invitation.
Much love to you and thanks for helping me celebrate this important year. To Reply: Click HERE.