"What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you." ~ Oprah Winfrey
I'm off to Costa Rica tomorrow on a volunteer project with Cross-Cultural Solutions. A lot of people have asked me why I chose to do a volunteer vacation. Why would I spend my vacation working? There are several small reasons: I did a volunteer vacation in the south of France in 2005 and loved it, it's a great way to truly experience the culture of a new country, it's a fun way to travel alone without being alone, and I enjoy meeting new people more than I enjoy just about anything else. The true reason I'm volunteering on vacation? It's good for the world - Oprah's right, as usual. What we give comes back to us, and I would add that it comes back to us 10-fold.
Though I am volunteering to help others, truly it's me that I'm helping. I am certain that the Cross-Cultural Solutions program will teach me and help me far more than I could ever teach or help anyone else. It's an interesting fact about service - you go into it to help others and you're the one who ends up with the greatest benefit from the work. In theory, this doesn't make sense. In practice, it is most certainly true.
For the past few months I've heard a lot of people wishing out loud. They need a better job, a better place to live, better relationships, better health. They have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to acquire these things, and I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I can help them. I wonder if service might be the best remedy for wishing.
I wonder if it's really true that what we seek for ourselves we can obtain by providing that very thing for someone else. Love, confidence, money, health, a positive outlook on life, trust, friendship, courage. Our list of wishes is never-ending, and therefore the number of opportunities for service is unlimited. How do our lives change if we take on the view "we only get what we give"? And in the process, how can this view change the whole world? I'll let you know if I find some answers in Costa Rica. Talk to you tomorrow from beautiful Cartago!