By C.S. Kammerzell | December 21, 2015
In the United States, I never had to worry about functioning electricity or running water (and hot water for that matter). I was financially comfortable and could get to the nearest Chipotle at the turn of a key. Now, I have a daily electricity schedule, the water comes weekly, my diet consists of rice and beans, and I’m living on a little less than $300 a month. In all honesty, even under these circumstances, I’m living far more comfortably than other members in my community. But several months after moving to the Dominican Republic, I learned something that I will carry for the rest of my life.
Service and international travel have always been my two greatest passions. Consequently, the Peace Corps was a perfect fit. At first, however, the shift to a truly simplistic lifestyle made me a little uneasy. It wasn’t until my phone, computer, car, air conditioning, etc. etc. was either non-existent or greatly limited, that I realized how fixated my life was to these things. Try turning your phone off for one day, and you will get a small taste of what I am talking about.
It didn’t take long, however, for me to realize the distinct advantages of living simply. At home, it can be difficult to make time to serve others because there are so many unnecessary things that preoccupy our time. We often find comfort and normalcy from these things, and letting them go can be unnerving. What do I mean by living simply? I think the concept is broad, but it encompanses letting go of the things that take your focus from what is truly important like developing relationships, introspection, and truly loving on others.
Friends, it is in these times where we experience something incredibly special. When serving others, we have a mindset of assisting and aiding, but what happens more often than not is that those people we are serving change us and leave a lasting impact on our hearts and souls.
You don’t have to travel to a third world country, devote twenty-seven months of your life to volunteering, or have any kind of specialized training to find this joy and satisfaction in your personal life. You can find it within your city, your friend group, your school, and in your own neighborhood. Volunteering or service doesn’t always have to be organized through a non-profit or through an agency. When boiled down, service is the act of placing yourself second to your fellow man. This could include making yourself available to a friend who going through a challenging time in his or her life, it could include serving food at a homeless shelter, it could be volunteering at a trail race, and everything in between. Find an opportunity to serve, perhaps outside your comfort zone, and I promise, you will discover the same joy, fulfillment, and beauty that I have. Maybe it will take simplifying your life soon so that you’re schedule opens up to others. Still don’t believe me? Give it a shot. I dare you.