People here are helpful of shit.

Today I am prepping for a phone interview with a former employer, the Montana Conservation Corps. Not that kind of interview, although I would love to join the MCC team some day. Are you asking "what the heck is a ‘conservation corps?’” Without any explanation, I know it sounds kind of like an environmental themed cult. I used to assume people understand what it is when I say it, as they nod their head “oh, yes, yes, very cool,” secretly wondering, “did he just make that up?” A member of the team, Hannah, had reached out to me and offered a feature in their eNews. A feature of me, yes. I know, thank you, thank you very much..

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that I already nerd out when any MCC related literature you’ve-got-mails into my inbox. I love reading about what the crews have accomplished this year. The work; which by the way includes anything that falls into the realm of protecting or maintaining our natural resources, so everything from trail building, to habitat restoration, to home energy efficiency outreach, is essential to the functioning of society in ways that I did not consider prior to actually doing the work. I’ve gained a lifetime of skills and knowledge on a variety of subjects working for the Corps for six months, and those were the terms of service by the way. I didn’t leave or get fired. In fact, I wholeheartedly missed many aspects of the job when it was over as I was thrust back into normal life, wondering on the daily when i’d get to go back and do something like that again?

It’s absolutely nowhere near to the same degree as military veterans, and I don’t mean to say my range of experience is anywhere near as severe as theirs, so do not get confused about what I’m saying. However, in some small way, the experience of working in adverse conditions in the wilderness, with a crew of people you rely on for everything and then all of the sudden being dropped back into the regular world…the individualistic, nuclear family, consumer world that you forgot everyone else has been living in this whole time, and in fact you were once living in too! Well, to that experience, I can relate. Though my specific experiences--working in smoke from nearby wildfires, hiking 50 pound rock bars strung over my shoulders, and not taking an actual shower or eating in a kitchen for weeks-- in no way compares to the gravity of military service, I feel like I have some common ground to stand on with those who have had intense jobs that take us outside of normal life away from everyday conveniences.

I love reading MCC alumni stories and seeing what everyone is up to now. I guess I have a fascination with “where are they now.” In fact, I think I’m more interested in where people are now than I am interested in their past accomplishments. I think what they did with their accomplishment is more telling than the accomplishment itself. When Hannah offered it to me, I felt an immediate sense of honor at the possibility of being written about in the literature.

Today’s post will be split into two parts, the before and after. Before the interview, which is now, while I wait, 14 minutes past the hour of our scheduled meeting time, eagerly awaiting our talk, chugging my Americano in a sheik cafe called Press in Ithaca. I’ll use this time to muse on some thoughts that are ruminating around in my brain. And then once I receive the call, I’ll do the interview, pause to absorb it all, then come back to you, and tell you what happened! And maybe finish that thought.

I just to moved to Ithaca and I’m getting a hold of the culture here. It’s one of helpfulness, in which easy-going attitudes are hung on people’s psyches like a fedora on a coat rack, or an ornament on a Christmas tree, or an acorn on an oak tree, waiting to drop and root itself in the ground, sprouting anew. It feels like that. Do you need another metaphor to help you understand? Probably not. I just love metaphors. Ummm…they are delicious to me like hot tea.

People here listen to you. They quickly become genuinely curious about what your need is, and make offers to connect you with people they know who could help you, if they personally can’t, but usually they can! Because people are well connected and seem to know everyone and do everything! Or at least that’s been my experience. I am a firm believer that you can find the types of people you enjoy being around in any place. And I enjoy these types of people! The easy influx of helpful people with resources and connections can mean one of three things: 1) I’m disproportionally encountering helpful peeps (we’ll call them helpfulls) here in Ithaca or 2) I’m attracting helpfulls into my experience due to my immense powers as a deliberate creator and manifester (that is equal parts facetious and sincere) or it can mean 3) people are just like that here.

What’ve I’ve found—and I’m done a lot of personal research about this—is that being helpful is more about willingness than it is resources. It’s more about a willingness to be helpful than actually having the resources someone needs. Because even if you can’t help someone, you probably know someone who can. Or at a least you know someone that would be a stepping stone to someone who can help that person.

Part 2:

So I actually didn’t have the interview yet and it’s 3:41 PM. 41 minutes after our scheduled time. And wait before you judge!! You might need to know that our scheduled time is tomorrow, not today. Yes, I checked my email after entertaining the idea that I may have the wrong day. “Wait, do I have the wrong day?” and I went back through the thread, through the series of back and forths between Hannah and I, “when are you thinking,” “awesome, the fifth at 1:00 works! ,“ arrrrgggggg….IT WAS TOMORROW.

Despite the low dosage of self defeat and humiliation I feel, about having planned my day around this amazing opportunity, about which I was very excited, I am now even more excited that I get to relive the excitement all over again tomorrow, the day of the actual interview.

It’s amazing how having things you are looking forward to; outside of the things you are responsible for (these are usually two different things) can radically change your outlook and serve to inject a pep into your step. What if you had just one thing to really, truly look forward to each week? And yes; although you obviously “look forward” in a deeper sense of the phrase, to transporting the kids around, making dinner, and participating in meetings at work, because you understand them to be a necessary to your overall wellbeing, maybe there’s part of you that longs for something new, fresh, and unexpected. Something to look forward too. Okay, and let’s rewind for a sec. Maybe you genuinely don’t look forward to those meetings at work! In which case, it might beg the question, what are you doing there? Anyway that’s for another day.

My contention is this. Life should not exclusively consist of the everyday commitments to work and family. Additionally, on top of those everyday commitments, your schedule should be colored with things that you actually look forward to. I’m talking about novel experiences that bring a sense of unlimited possibility. The experiences that allow you to bring the feelings you feel during them into all those other parts of your life. The things to look forward to.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this interview. And I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, cheers and enjoy!