Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Happiness [is] Only Real When Shared": Do Yourself a Service

When hard work pays off, it truly feels incredible. We deal with so much pressure and stress in this world already, so when you put all of your effort toward a goal, it is incredibly important that it is successful. The weight of a deadline or anxiety of making good impressions are all logical reasons to perhaps not try to take risks or set difficult goals.

Within two weeks time I will be have completed two fairly monumental things in my life. Everyone has had events that impact their life significantly and during those “ah ha” moments you reach clarity. I remember back in 2008 I volunteered to do Hurricane Katrina clean up with Spring Break Outreach in New Orleans. Before my group left, we had an orientation that featured my good friend, John, as a speaker. He gave a speech about what it meant to volunteer your time to a good cause. He said that doing service is a time in which you see the face of God and He is ever-loving, therefore your heart is filled with love, compassion, and joy by doing said service. I was affected by John’s speech (and musical selection to play Ben Harper’s “Blessed to Be a Witness” song) and its groundwork has stuck with me for a very long time, especially because he was right, volunteering did show me love.

So now, many years later, I think about his speech and apply it to many things in life. I can recall incredibly vivid moments in my life in which I felt great pride and love for accomplishing something. And the beauty of these times is that they were a service (or volunteering) to help myself. We often give so much to other people that we can lose ourselves in the process. Sometimes it takes serious decisions, risks, and dangers to truly find yourself but in the end, if you work hard, press forward, and stay determined; you’ll see the face of God and feel the greatest level of love possible, the love for yourself.

I’ve been fortunate to have many moments where I am overcome with love for myself. Not in an egotistical nature, but just truly being so proud of an accomplishment. I believe this is important to your confidence and character. At times that I have felt this love, I am typically beside myself; like when I reached the Mt. Annapurna base camp 4,100 meters above sea level after five straight days of extremely difficult, high altitude hiking. Or when I ordained as Buddhist monk for a month in Thailand. Or taking the risk to spend my hard-earned money to pursue two dreams of mine by going to Africa andthe World Cup—at the same time—before moving back to America… jobless. These times mean a lot to me. They were risky and challenging but the rewards were life changing.

On October 15th, I will hope to complete the Baltimore Running Festival Half Marathon I have been training for. This is my first organized race, so I haven’t had the feeling of crossing the finish line after running 13.1 miles. For me, this will be monumental. Perhaps it won’t feel that way immediately following it, or years down the road after I do more running, but I know that this first time will be one of great pride.

And just recently, I premiered my most successful and anticipated photography exhibit at Brewer’s Art, which is a very well-known restaurant/bar that displays popular artwork throughout the dining rooms. The opening of the gallery was phenomenal. I had family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, and strangers filling up a room that displayed 21 of my most distinctive photos. And they were all there for me to show support and interest in what I’ve worked so hard for. Some may have wanted to see the reason behind my excuses of being unable to spend time with them while others may have come for the free appetizers and cheap drink special, but it didn’t matter to me. They were there, and they got to see my passion. My blood, sweat, and tears in a tangible piece of artwork. That feeling does not come around too often and I am already in love with it.

I couldn’t be happier to have my work available to be seen by more than just my eyes displaying them in a pixilated, computer format. And to make the moment even more special was being able to have all of the people I care about share that moment with me. People commented on my appearance and how they could see the amount of passion I have for the exhibit but also the amount of relief and pride I was exuding. I could breathe easier and just stand back and smile. It’s something truly rare yet life-changing.

I had felt a whole new level of love. I perhaps saw the face of God that night. I might have opened a new chapter in my life, that is to be determined later, but what I do know is: with all of my hard work for this gallery and the half marathon, I have volunteered a significant amount of time on myself and it has paid off tenfold.

I want to personally thank all of those who came out to the opening of “Life, Love and Pursuit of…” gallery. As you can see, it was something truly special for me, and it wouldn’t have happened without all of your love and support.

“Happiness [is] only real when shared.” 
~ Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

*For more pictures from the exhibit, click here

Could not have completed the gallery without Jen's dedication and help.

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