26.03.2010

Life is Dramatic

Fellowship

Life as a human being is dramatic. It’s dramatic because of choice.  As a human being you are given a set number of years to live. Every choice we make, we sacrifice what we don’t do for something we do. Since our time is limited, there are a limited number of choices we can make. Each choice is powerful and has real consequences for our lives and for the lives of those to whom we are connected. As I listened to the personal stories of my community members, I started to appreciate that this is our struggle as human beings: to make the right choices for ourselves without knowing where we are going or when our time will be up. This is the drama in which we must all take part; we must make choices knowing that we know nothing and that each choice could lead us to a better or worse state.

At the start of my fellowship year in Bagar, I felt like I could not connect to my community members on a meaningful level. I felt like I was pretending, instead of actually sharing emotions with them. Our conversations felt empty, because it seemed to me that our exposure was just too different.  But now, I empathize with my community because I know that although our circumstances are different, we all make choices to make our lives what we want them to be. This perspective has enabled me to love my community on a real level. Now when I exchange stories with my community members, I love them because in their stories I see our shared human struggle.

Last week, in our Community Leadership Team meeting, I asked each of our team members to tell me the dreams they have for their lives and what they are willing to do to make them reality. At first they didn’t understand what I was asking and many team members told me they had never been asked such question(s) before. I then told them I would film each of them saying their dreams and promised that I wouldn’t show it to anyone else.

I called the first team member up to state his dream on camera and he was hesitant to come. No one wanted to be first. But after being filmed for the first time, each of them asked to redo their dream statement at least three or four times. The first take for each team member was short and emotionless. But in the second, third, and fourth take, you could see the ambition in their eyes and hear the pride in their voices. In those moments on camera, I was pushing them to make a choice about their lives and there it was – the drama.

In their articulation of their dreams, there was hope for what could be and sacrifice for the paths they were giving up in the same moment. And that is from where the love comes. Because when I listened to my team member’s dream, he was no longer an Indian farmer’s son from Ratansher and I was no longer an Indian American from L.A. In that moment, he was one human telling another human that amidst this chaos and confusion that is the world, we can make choices to make life what we want it to be. In that moment. our differences melted away.  My heart connected with him because I know that I have that courageous irrational hope too. I too believe that my dreams can become reality, that my choices can make life better. It was in that moment that my heart resonated with assurance; yes, the world is ours, we don’t have to be a product of it, we can make the world a product of us.

Starting the Community Leadership Team has given me an avenue to experience the drama of life. The world is created by the choices of human beings. Investing time in people makes me a part of their drama, it makes me a factor in their choices and if I encourage people to discover themselves and make positive choices I can make the world a better place. Through this leadership team, I have learned that investing in people is something about which I am passionate. Investing in people is something I love, I’m addicted to it, and I’m going to create opportunities for myself to invest in people for the rest of my life wherever I go and whatever I do. That is dramatic. And that is life.

Sahil Chaudry, August 2009 Indicorps Fellow

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