Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Living A Better Story

Living a better story. That's a phrase I was first introduced to a few months ago while reading a book, it made me think about how I might do things differently in my life to have a better story to tell at the end of this amazing journey called life. That phrase made me want to push myself outside of my comfort zone, beyond the boundaries of this safe life  I've carved out for myself in my small town. It makes me want to open myself up to experiences that I might otherwise shut myself off from because of one irrational fear or another. I want to challenge myself in ways that I can't even imagine, to be altered by experiences -- even more so than I already have.

Today I had lunch with a few friends who over the years have become colleagues, all of us working at the same college. Sadly, our lunch today will be the last for quite possibly a very long time. One of my friends made the extraordinary decision a few months ago to accept a position that will transport her out of our little valley, across an ocean and set her in the middle of a Rwandan refugee camp deep in the heart of Africa. "Go big or go home" is a motto she lives by with every fiber of her being. When discussing her decision, she made it sound utterly simple, "I want to go where I am needed, to serve the poorest of the poor. I want live a better life, serving others let's me do that." I'm at a loss to describe how incredibly proud I am of her, how much I admire her, how her very existence inspires me to be a better person and do good works. She epitomizes one of my favorite David Whyte quotes--

"You must learn one thing. The world was made to be free in. Give up all other worlds, except the one to which you belong."

I took note though that her answer involved a variation of the quote that has been a recurring thought in my head lately -- "I want to live a better life." A better life, a better story. What can I do differently? What do those words mean to me? How do I go about figuring out the greater meaning of that? What world do I belong in? What's my story going to be?

For my friend, living a better life means selflessly devoting her time, her talents, her life. It means answering a call to serve others in a place most of us would never dream of going.

I don't have the answers to those questions just yet. I can only hope to find the answers, which I know will evolve over time, change as my circumstances change. I need to take a more proactive role in my life in discovering those truths.

What about you--how will you live a better story, live a better life?