“Do something, even if it’s nothing but jump up and down.”
When I was a kid my dad would use that phrase on me occasionally, most often when he asked me what I had planned for the weekend and I’d say “Uh, I dunno”. After too many weekends conscripted into weeding flower beds and painting trim I learned to have a lots of homework assignments whenever he asked that question.
One thing I regret about my teenage years is that I didn’t get more involved in extracurricular activities. I joined Boy Scouts, but I never pushed enough to get merit badges and move any higher than second class. I got into band, but not until my junior year in high school, and I wasn’t involved in any other clubs or sports programs. In short, I wish I’d done more than daydream and watch TV.
Later I was in college, and then working for a living, and I told myself I was too busy to volunteer for anything. Then a few years ago I got involved with Trout Unlimited, a group dedicated to the conservation and protection of coldwater fisheries (trout and salmon). Our chapter members move logs and rocks to restore Brook Trout habitat in north Georgia streams, set up chilled aquaria in middle school classrooms so that students can learn biology as they hatch out trout eggs and grow the fry large enough to release, and teach fly fishing and fly tying to everyone from Boy Scouts to senior citizens. I’ve gotten to meet dozens of people with similar interests, watched kids formerly addicted to video games catch bugs and hold wriggling trout in their hands, and fished some achingly beautiful streams that I never would have known about without tips from my new friends.
My wife and I joined Trout Unlimited because she wanted to get back out in the rivers that she had studied while working in the Georgia Museum of Natural History, after we moved from biology into boring jobs in IT. But we got seriously committed after we realized how active our chapter was, and how much the members do to support conservation and education programs that directly benefit the citizens and trout of north Georgia.
Whatever your interest, find a way to get involved with something larger than yourself. Not only will you make meaningful contributions to a good cause, your investment will be returned tenfold in experiences, learning, and connections with others who share your passions.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill