As I've said many times, I love my job. But recently the old wanderlust has hit me. Hard. I know that I can't just quit and join Doctors Without Borders, which is what's been on my mind (and heart) for more than a year. It's just not sensible.
I've always done volunteer work. Lots of it. Right now, my sisters and I are preparing for a full weekend of the Avon Breast Cancer Walk in Chicago. It'll be here in less than two weeks. Certainly that's volunteer work, but it's not a huge commitment for me. As a team leader I do a tiny bit of work ahead of time, and lots during the weekend itself. Then it's over until next year. (I raised over a thousand dollars again this year, which is pretty cool, since as a crew member I'm not required to fundraise.)
Memories can flood me when I think of the many volunteer activities throughout the years, with some requiring weekly commitments over several years. But the one that felt so "right," was when I worked with individuals impacted by Hurricane Wilma last year. I was there for 17 days, but could have stayed much longer if I could have afforded it. Sure there's the adrenaline rush when you work in the aftermath of a disaster. But the adrenaline doesn't carry you through long periods, when the work becomes just plain work, rather than an exciting adventure. Yet, there's such a feeling of satisfaction, and even contentment, when you're doing work that you believe you are made to do. This kind of work is where my education, certifications, and experience has led me.
With Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF), the shortest amount of time to volunteer is six months. After being gone that amount of time, I know I wouldn't be able to return to my job. While there, I couldn't make my condo payments. So to do this would mean giving up my home and my job. Is it worth all that to pursue a dream? ("Yes," she whispered.)
My original plan was to do this when I retired, after quitting my job, but before returning to Quincy to live. Now I know that I can't count on my good health to last. Life is fragile. I need to do this while I am healthy, and physically able. Perhaps I'll be this healthy and able until the day I die (knock on wood), but there are no guarantees.
Okay, just dreaming out loud today...