It’s been a week since I returned and I’ve been in a reflective mood...
I sometimes play a game with myself to make me more aware of who and where I am. It goes like this: focus on your moment, your ‘now’. Take in everything around you: sights, sounds, people, thoughts, emotions, worries, and cares. And then realize that everything single thing you’ve done in your life—every decision big and small, every left turn, right turn, and wrong turn has led you to this one moment in time.
This is who you are. Is this who you want to be?
Never before in my life have I been able to answer ‘Yes’ as fiercely as I was when I was in Biloxi.
I have been a little embarrassed at times since I’ve returned at being congratulated for being so altruistic. The reality is that Biloxi gave me much, much more than I could ever give back. I don’t know if it was the work I was doing or the people I met or the feeling of being part of a community that extended beyond any artificial barriers we humans can erect. Probably all of it, and probably something more that I could never fully understand.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. You can see it on the faces of the volunteers and hear it in the voices of those who are leaving but promise to return. It’s in the food that you eat and the people you’re helping and in the sun dipping into the Gulf of Mexico.
This is why I feel compelled to tell everyone who wants to listen that you should do this. It’s not simply a trip of sacrifice or of doing good. It can change your life and help you come to know the person you always wanted to be. One day, with hard work and grace, Biloxi will be whole again. But there will always be another Biloxi to take its place. Any tragedy carries a terrible human cost, but in paying the cost you will come understand the human you more than you could ever imagine.