From Naivety to Insight

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The Self-Realizing Journey that is ‘Hero Holiday’-Mason There are many facts and insightful quotes that are recited to the youth of today, but these facts often ring in the empty heads of teens and lose their essential value. But I read one fact that I found riveting and eye opening. The fact that twenty-seven million slaves exist in a world I have prided myself with helping literally offends and disgusts me. I mean if you think about it, my city which has more people than I could ever hope to meet or understand in a hundred lifetime, is one twenty seventh the population of the world’s slaves. I cannot judge others and say they should be helping when they are oblivious to the cause. I can however, tell factual stories of my own encounters in various countries and hopefully sway the decision of these people from indifference to action.I have been blessed, and gifted. This ability has granted me the ability to have profound insight on all experiences that shape my life. The first time I went and worked in Mexico I was dumbfounded and awestruck that a nation in which my family unloads so much material wealth into recreationally, in reality is starving just for our leftovers.  Society plagues the youth of today into thinking that material gain and social status are the fundamental foundation to provide a long happy life. But societies vision is skewed. Prior to the experiences that LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) provided to me I was lost. I was living in a world that seemed sheltering and almost imprisoning. My life was good, do not get me wrong. I have a solid family, amazing friends and a promising future. But there is more to life than the basics. I felt as though a huge component of my life was torn from me; as if some gaping hole had formed in my contentment that I did not know how to fill. I couldn’t ever quite describe the feeling I felt, and this only applies to me personally; not the general public, but the felling I now realize was essential meaninglessness. I felt as though my life held no purpose, and provided no change for the world. I felt as though no matter what I did, my life would not make a difference. Again it is a hard concept to explain, and to the recipients of this they might think I was depressed but this is not true. The trips I have gone on with Hero Holiday (this summer will be my fourth) have essentially lifted the shadowy veil of reality. The trips have shown me aspects of my own world I had only previously seen on television or newspapers. The kids I’ve played with, the fathers I’ve built homes for, the communities I’ve built schools for all have changed because of it. They are grateful and truly appreciate the gifts we have provided them with.  This is one of the small facts that makes me allow myself a smile. I was a student who had just finished grade nine at a local Junior High. I used my parents’ money for my first trip, but once my eyes were opened I understood that in order for my change to matter I had to earn the right to help these people. For me to even begin to feel worthy of helping them I had to earn it. I worked for every single cent that I put into these trips and brought the leftover money with the intention of donating it for the last three years. The way I see it, I could spend money here in Edmonton on clothes, fancy food, or expensive clubs or movies… or I could literally keep food on a table that provides for three children. It was an easy choice. Last time I interned in Mexico I got very sick. There was some sort of virus not allowing water to get into my cells (the doctor explained). And it was explained to me in broken English while I lay there alone in the hospital that I might not make it. The thought terrified me. Even imagining never seeing my friends or family again makes me shudder. The reason I had received this lovely virus is because I worked too hard, sweated too much, and in my ‘brilliant intellect’ did not drink nearly enough water. I had no one to blame but myself, and that may have been the worst part. It’s a long story but nevertheless I got through it, and was allowed to leave the hospital later the day after.At first I was brought to the project in which my digging of the outhouse provided my sickness. A few of the other workers had happily finished the nearly completed hole in my absence out of respect to me; which was an amazing compliment. However the biggest compliment I have ever gotten was when I went in the family’s terrible shanty of a home. Sheet metal attached to chicken wire and cardboard built up a small box-like frame. My house is three stories, with a vast backyard and a hot tub. I say this not out of conceit or arrogance, first of all I did not earn it, my dad did, and secondly because I know that I would give all this extra space, and all these extra materialistic innovations up if this family was given even an un-leaky roof to sleep under. I walked in the house and immediately the mother had started to cry, she wrapped her arms around me and I could feel her appreciation with every shake, and every harsh sobbing breath she took in. She then showed me a drawing her daughter had made.Her daughter had been with me every day that I worked in that hole, she had ‘helped’ me dig (though usually she ended up pushing more dirt into my half-dug outhouse hole) and she made me smile and feel as though the project was worth doing. She was only about six or seven, and would clumsily walk hand in hand with me whenever I visited the water cooler or other students. She provided me with motivation to keep swinging the pickaxe into the devastatingly hard clay even when I thought my muscles would burst from exertion. Anyways, her mother showed me a drawing that the little girl had made while I was in the hospital. Apparently they had heard that I was hospitalized because I worked to hard and they understood it was serious. The drawing was of her and her family holding hands in front of a brand new house. They were unskillfully drawn stick figures, with crazy hair and misinformed coloring… but the picture was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Her family and her stood happily in front of their home and I was drawn above them… with a Halo and angel wings.Hero Holiday provides an amazing opportunity for people. Whether they are happy but need something more like me, or depressed and need to realize the beauty of their own lives, Hero Holiday works. The main thing it does is provide homes, schools, shelters, food, and general affection to those in the world. I understand that and I see the amazing beauty in that. We are helping those who essentially are not able to help themselves. But Hero Holiday does so much more. It provides hope, purpose, and the sense of feeling whole to people. This is a lesson that has changed my life.When I first got back from the hospital I couldn’t work .I ended up writing a small note down as an attempt to organized my mixed thoughts.                   “North American Society is plagued by malcontent and misery in direct contradiction to the amount of the worlds wealth it has obtained; wealth that is supposed to naturally create the byproduct of happiness. In hindsight of its material fortune North American Society has lost sight of the essence of life’s true beauty. To the wealthy the meaning of life is to compete, impress, achieve, and sustain wealth for their eventual use as they age, or the eventual use of their children. Understandably, however, countries that do not have that fortune and wealth have held on to something of much more intricate value: the true meaning of life, which is to enjoy it. In absence of our material superficial goods they retain a philosophy of intimate satisfaction with the simplistic things in life, ergo causing them to enable themselves, and guarantee themselves a general contentment throughout the entirety of their lives.The poor will always envy the wealthy for their material goods, yet the wealthy once exposed to the world’s poverty will always envy the poor for who they are as people. Which is more valuable?

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: May 28th, 2010