I have at least one loyal reader who asked me where my post was for this week. It is a well-timed and well-aimed dart. The truth is that it fell off of my priority list because I was too busy doing the wrong thing.
My wife originally challenged me to ‘do nothing’ with my extra time off. She challenged me to just see if I could do it. I have failed miserably. I have started to be dragged back into the world of acting instead of the prework/thinking that I need to do.
This week I spoke to the heads of four separate philanthropies/social enterprises. I saw the differences that they were trying to make, and I immediately did what I so often do–try to jump in an get involved.
This is without taking a step back to see where the needs are, where those needs align with what is good, what the opportunity cost is of the time that I commit, and without thought to where I may be ideally suited to contribute.
One brief anecdote about how this can end perversely. I had a chat with someone about this app this week. It is a goal-setting app for newly arrived refugees. It won the top prize for techfugees Australia. In no way is it a technically bad app, or written by ill-intentioned people. Quite the opposite, I believe that the people who made this app really did want to do the best thing for the refugees arriving in Australia. I strongly suspect; however, that few of the refugees, at least from the Afghan context, are going to have the requisite hardware (iPhones), literacy, and cultural background (hawalas and Western Union are the primary points of reference) to make use of an app like this. The people who created this app were probably not solving a very critical problem, and may well have done better if they had hired and interpreter and spent the same time with a few people just helping them fill out forms.
Again, my point is not to point to how these people are investing their time, but to self-condemn. I did roughly the same thing as these programmers this week. I spent a great deal of this week merely looking around for options of places that I could serve and saying something like ‘yes’ at every opportunity. I am afraid that in a macro-sense I may end up solving for a non-critical problem, just as our friends at techfugees may done. I will feel very busy and satisfied in the short-run, but then, when did my feelings become the goal? Why do I believe that this time will be any different from the last three? Will I never learn?
I need a sense of equanimity, not to privation, or fear, but to the conventionally good things in this world.
Please, tell me what you thought before reading this, and let me know if this changed your mind.