Single File: Community as Connection
Linking yourself to the community is the next step to widen your circle of connectedness. By joining a voluntary organization or international agency (whichever seems more important to you and seems to need you more), by manning a hotline for a battered-women's shelter or helping to organize and international fast day for world hunger, you're pouring goodwill out into the world community. Who knows how far that goodness will spread? Positive actions radiate far beyond their originator, you know. And the world could certainly use more love! Sharing yours makes you part of the sea of helpfulness around all of us.
And while you're helping, you're also defining yourself in ways that go (far) beyond marital status. Involved, you're not a single anything! You're a helper, reaching beyond her own community into the wider one in positive, generous ways. Who gives a damn about your marital status when you're in the company of other good people in a common cause?! When you're part of goodness, what counts is your solidity of character, follow-through, strength of purpose and loyalty of spirit. A far cry from single dances, I'd say; actually, a world apart.
If volunteering is new to you, be ready for strong surges of self-esteem that come with a sharpened awareness of other people's needs. Be prepared to receive outpourings of sincere love and deep appreciation across the bridges that carry your caring. More than anything else I know, moving beyond personal concerns to work at bettering someone else's life is an unfailing solution to the navel-gazing syndrome that can creep into the life of someone living on their own. Your altruistic self may have gotten lost in the shuffle; you'll feel great about getting it back. Promise.
But hold on! I'm not suggesting you give up people possibilities when you seriously enter the world of volunteerism. Far from it. Actually, there is a much richer mix of men, youths, and senior citizens in volunteerism these days, because it's no longer seen as "women's work." Many helping organizations recruit through larger businesses! (Hint: Ask if your office is among them. If not, consider using your influence to get something going.) The most decent people I know make it a point to give back to their communities some of the energy and concern that has nurtured them. And some of the most successful friendships and marriages have sprung from the intense closeness that comes with working for a common cause.
By now you're probably convinced to give it a try, but since you've never really done anything like this, you're not sure how to begin. But since you're getting used to this column's style of self-inquiry before action, let's stay with it. That self-inquiry, next week's Single File. Promise.
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