Start Spreading the News

. . . i’m not leaving today. i’m not going to be a part of it, in old new york. these vagabond shoes, they’re quite happy here. don’t need a brand new start of it, in old new york. i wanna wake up in the city that’s still asleep, and find i’m somewhere on the hill, just on the heap. [long, melodramatic solo later] . . . it’s up to me, no no new york.

well, san francisco specifically. in my journey up to the city today, i realized that i have no desire to live in a big city right now. at the same time i was admiring the variety of people in the big town, i was missing the homogenous blend of palo alto. when i looked at the tightly-packed commerce and action, i saw only the laid-back style of work at home. and while choosing from the myriad of affordable restaurants and stores to patronize, i wished for less selection and more elitism. yeah, i’m a snob. yeah, i’m shallow. yeah, i’m selfish and sheltered and spoiled and probably most other “s” words associated with my “s” school. but i’m also secure, and satisfied, and “super”-productive (sorry, couldn’t think of an “s” word for that).

last spring i sent a scathing email to a friend accusing him of selling out when he took a job in finance. this is a friend who was one of my favorite people to philosophize with, one i looked up to and respected. so i knew it would elicit a valid response. here’s an excerpt:

the thing that i learned, that my brother was probably trying to share with you, is that people like you and me have a responsibility. we can fight it all we want, but it remains just the same. we grew up in (relative) wealth, and (relative) comfort, and the highest education that anyone could ever ask for. and so you might begin to ask yourself- “what is that for?” the answer should be the kingdom- and i don’t mean the kingdom of morgan or stanley. but where can i serve that (relatively) less fortunate can not? and what do i have that (relatively) uneducated people do not have? how will i invest the talents he has bestowed…the family, education, and abilities that He has invested in me?

i feel bad lots of times because of the way i am being largely selfish with my gifts. it’s true, my first concern is myself. fortunately that is becoming less so as God proves his providence and i learn to trust, but i suspect it will always be the case. what i didn’t realize before my friend’s email was that, despite my eternal selfishness, there ARE things that i CAN do, and these include using my unique (read: acquired through undeserved selfish means) gifts. i don’t have to travel around the world to help a poor person–they’re right on the streets of my town. i don’t need to volunteer for a non-profit to give my services to those who need them. and i don’t have to ignore my desire to design and research and create to follow God’s life plan–i can use that too for good.

it’s always a learning experience, i suppose. but this is what i’m learning right now.