Guest post on Scarphelia – passing on the volunteer spirit

Last week I wrote a guest blog post for an amazing lifestyle and philosophy blog I follow, called Scarphelia. As it’s in keeping with the attitudes and thoughts I try to share on this blog, I thought I’d re-post it on here too. I hope some of you can relate!

SCARPHELIA

Ambition & Adventure – Guest Post #1


by Kate Snowdon

‘There are two things in life that drive me. Ambition and adventure.

It’s ambition that gets me up in the morning; that’s made me set so many career goals, and that’s led to me achieving exactly what I set out to achieve at school, college, uni and (hopefully) thereafter.

But adventure is like my secret fix.

For someone so sensible and academic, admitting that I’m addicted to an adrenaline rush, to the point of having found myself jumping from planes, cage diving with great white sharks, and throwing myself from buildings, bridges and platforms of all kinds (including the world’s highest commercial bungee jump) and even having more than 15 hours in a tattoo shop chair, is usually a bit of a surprise to people.

I feel alive in my work and love what I do, but I just feel MORE alive when I’m challenging conventions and boundaries. Like I’m enjoying a new level of consciousness.

I think it’s that new state of consciousness – like another layer to life – that I also feel I’m entering when I’m travelling. I’m a collector of countries and experiences and a meeter of people: and that thrills me. New people and new places are amazing.

From the Spanish lady in a hostel in NZ, that had had to have her leg reattached (via 80 operations) after a motorbike accident; or the man in South Africa who’d just got back from volunteering as an engineer in Afghanistan after both his parents died suddenly in unrelated incidents; to the Dutch life coach, whom I had many fire-side conversations with as we travelled with another through the endless red sands of the Australian outback – the reasons that people find themselves with nothing but a rucksack and a compass are always fascinating.

One of my favourite kinds of people to meet, are volunteers and missionaries.

Now, I am in no way a religious person – after years of being agnostic I eventually moved over to being an atheist – and I don’t really feel any huge sense of moral duty (or subsequent righteous glory) but I just get one of my adrenaline rushes from throwing everyday life and conventions to the wind, to do something else – for the love of it. And those like-minded people I meet along the way often have really spiritual or philosophical personality types.

Coming from your average lower middle class ‘find a way to “get by” off of your own back and make sacrifices to do so’ kind of family, I’ve always resented the idea of money a little bit. The idea that paper or cheap metal can make the difference between living your dreams and merely surviving (or worse, not surviving.), so the freedom and liberation that comes from ignoring… no, rejecting… money in my ‘different layer of consciousness’ is awesome.

I think that’s why I love to travel to far away places and work for free and ‘for a greater cause’ – because that’s just where I’m drawn to when I ignore every boundary and convention of life’s unwritten rules.

It’s led me to singing nursery rhymes in a Jamaican school, watching a lion on an operating table, climbing a mountain, buying masses of thrift store toys for disabled children, bottle-feeding baby elephants, educating poverty-stricken communities in an ‘AIDs Awareness tent’, giving away all of my socks (and half a ruck sack of clothes to use for materials) to make sock puppets at an orphanage, riding on the roof of a lorry and pouring in buckets of water onto over-heated eland (big massive antelope) and for four very long hours; counting cockatoo against the Aussie skyline.

The strangest conclusion I’ve come to from these hair-raising, people-meeting, volunteer expeditions is the theory that good deeds are passed on.

That’s not me claiming to have invented karma; this is something different. The idea that one good, out of the ordinary deed can inspire someone else to carry out another. Imagine, for example, the aforementioned lady from the motorbike crash – if she’s volunteering in at a school, because the ambulance drivers that saved her life were volunteers and she feels inspired, then maybe one of the school children would remember her kindness, and go on to volunteer at a soup kitchen. If one of those homeless people turns their life around; they may go on to volunteer with anti-social or ‘at risk’ teenagers, and so on.

I’m not on some mission to save the world. But imagine if by some ‘moral’ chain reaction, we just made it a little better.’

– Kate Snowdon

*
For me, ever since I met her, Kate has been a constant inspiration, an enterprising mentor and moreover an idol of mine. After meeting at the start of this year, I couldn’t have possibly asked for anyone greater to help steer me on the right path and the path to my future.
I was honoured to have the opportunity to present the Blogging Masterclass alongside her in March, and even more honoured to have her as my first silver-grid guest blogger on Scarphelia.
I can only hope one day I follow in her footsteps and can create a just as impressive impact on the world – as you can see, she certainly has the right idea!
Scarlet-Ophelia.
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