The days where you don’t want.

Are probably the days you need.

No not the day is exactly what you need, but the needlessness of that particular day.

When you don’t want, and when you don’t need, a rhythm occurs that grinds against the very fabric of apathy and lethargy.

So when you find yourself not wanting, do.

And when you find yourself uninspired, create.

And when you find yourself tired, run.

Go against the grain and every part that doesn’t make sense.

Sometimes the collision is just the door to breakthrough.  

This is how I felt on Monday, April 26th, 2018. We, the Catalyst Collective, launched our third and newest campus for our After Hours Program. With that, I would like to say: I am passionate about pouring into this generation. I am passionate about mentoring. I am about passionate about making a change. I am passionate about volunteering my time somewhere where it will be well-spent. But I am not passionate about the work that goes into that. Or maybe I am?

Frequently I feel unmotivated and unenthused on the way to our highschool and now middle school campuses. It does not make the slightest amount of sense. I commit to volunteering in varied forms of tasks, but then I lose drive not far too long after that. Our Program director, Zac Tinney, and I are partners in crime and in carpooling to our destinations. Constantly, he comments or I tell him how there are other things I would rather do. I would be hanging out with friends or playing simple video games if I was not hanging out with these teens! And constantly he encourages me to push through. Then, we show up at the campus and something happens.

The same incident that happens every time we show up. We start unloading the car and setting up the cafeteria of Hopewell middle school. First the snacks, then the Gaga Pit, then the art stations, and then the video games and projectors. The same mundane tasks I have completed hundreds of times over the years. I think to myself that this gets so old after a while.

We are barely finishing setting up and the bell rings. Then the doors open. And then kids start to pile into the cafeteria. We barely have enough volunteers to just corral these fresh-faced middle schoolers to check in, and we definitely do not have enough to help all of them sign in. We manage and then like they have been here forever and they had known us for ages, they start painting, playing, and yelling all the same. Familiar. They are acting familiar. Then I start to act familiar as well. That grumpiness, or that sleepiness, that was over me starts to go away. Sure, I was sick and in pain, but I dealt with it. I really started to allow my familiar eyes to overlook my frustrated ones. These kids were having fun. They had a place to go after school. There was little-to-no rules. There was guidelines sure, but no kids were fighting or picking on eachother. This environment became their own. Because it was familiar.

I wondered what was familiar. Why had their youthful innocence took away my older jadedness? Then it dawned on me. They made a choice. Their choice was to choose familiarity. They chose to get into a inflatable pit and hit around a ball with kids they did not know. They chose to play Nintendo Switch with kids that they had probably never met. These kids were choosing to be kids and just have fun. Even if they did not know much else, they still chose this community. They just had no idea that they were ushering in change in such a beautiful way for some young adults not too much older than them.

It all clicked in the middle of the ruckus. The work is tiring. The guidelines and cleanliness are exhausting. But when it all comes together, it’s worth it. We do not work to work. We, volunteers and co-laborers, work for the reward. Sometimes when we grow up, we just lose sight of that reward. I know I have countless of times walking up to lead a group of volunteers at many of our After Hours programs. So I say this to you, and to myself, next time when you don’t want to, next time you are laboring, remind yourself of the prize. You, me, let’s remind ourselves that the prize is not the task being done, but it’s who it was done for. And in my case, it was for a bunch of 12 year olds showing me how bad I am at Gaga Ball.

Aaron AlbaComment