I always lived with the belief that if you want something, you have to live with the attitude that will bring your desired outcome.
I like to think about a restaurant as a metaphor for life.
You are the chef of this restaurant and you create all the meals. If you believe your dishes will be delicious, then you will put in extra effort to make sure the lobster bisque turns out just right. On the other hand, if you believe your meals will taste like garbage, then of COURSE you’re going to add too much salt or burn the soup. (Speaking of which, is the latter even possible?!)
I’ll come back to this metaphor later.
I truly believe that what you put out into the world is what you get back. If you give love and positivity, those good things will come back to you.
However, in my AP Literature class, while we read Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which portrays existentialist traits of randomness and injustice in society, I began to question my initial beliefs. Look around at all the sickness, tragedies, and violence. Is the world really fair?
We were prompted to write a few sentences about our ideal city. My city included improved, free resources for dealing with mental health and abuse and ran completely on clean energy. I also described it as celebratory of all religions and the LGBTQ community. We were then asked to share. Unsurprisingly, my classmates answered with similar views: no violence, no poverty, the list goes on.
My teacher then asked us the following questions: Can we end poverty and sickness? Do you think it’s possible to end all war and violence?
Personally, I’m not sure. I became skeptical about there being some “larger truth” of the universe. Maybe the world really is just a random, meaningless place, I thought.
Philosophers like Plato and Buddha dedicated their entire lives searching for the meaning of life… then hundreds of years later, Nietzche, Kierkegaard, and Sartre lay some major objection bombs and send the general public into a vat of existential crises. (Just kidding, listen to your humanities/history teacher for the real facts.)
While no one knows for certain if there is some higher truth about the world, I believe it’s important to not just give up and say, “Hey! You know what? Life is meaningless so I am just not going to care about anything!”
Instead, I got to thinking: can I do something to better the life of another human being? To which I immediately said (literally out loud): “yes.” For me, life about taking action and practicing what you preach (oh yes, I went there with the cliché).
Going back to the restaurant metaphor, I forgot to mention that you are not only the chef, but SURPRISE! You own the restaurant. This means that you are not only responsible for cooking delicious meals for yourself, but you also must be able to feed your customers and make sure there are enough seats to accommodate more than yourself.
To put it simply, the customers are the people around you who cannot afford to cook their own meals.
The ability to brainstorm a perfect world is a luxury. For many of my peers (myself included), we can dream endlessly of a perfect world and still have a life with—at the very minimum—our basic needs met. But simply thinking and planning are not enough.
Life isn’t always fair. There is so much poverty, sickness, and violence around the world. Often, people in those situations are defenseless or have difficulty acquiring necessary resources. It is up to people with platforms and voices—the chefs— to be proactive in helping others.
When I say, “if you put goodness into the world, you will get it back,” I mean: if you have the ability to influence a situation in your life, then take action. And if you are in a position to help others, spread that goodness around by taking action so more people can sit at the table.
Will we end poverty? Or war? Such broad statements are hard to answer. But can we bring more chairs to the table so more people can eat? Absolutely.
The world is not always fair, but we can make it safer, more welcoming, and happier if we use what is given to us to help others.
I challenge you to do something this holiday season, even if you want to start small, to help another person…And don’t forget to take time for yourself too 🙂
Put your goal into writing and comment below!
All rights reserved (c) 2017 Luisa Rodriguez.
My current project/ inspiration behind this post:
I’m currently working on a school-wide fundraiser for YouthCare, a nonprofit (local to WA, U.S.) whose mission is to end teen homelessness in the Seattle area. As a school, our goal is to raise $4,000 and other needed supplies. If you wish to donate to YouthCare, please feel free to donate at this link (if you are affiliated with International Community School, please put “ICS fundraiser” in the comments of the donation link so we can track your donation to our goal!)
For more information about YouthCare, visit http://www.youthcare.org/