Yesterday I stepped onto the street and ran into Dimitrius Pryce, an aspiring novelist working on his first book “The Scars in my Eyes.” It’s an urban fiction relaying the best and worst of what’s been cast into his mind through his years growing up in a rough neighborhood.
I asked him for ‘the best’ and he told me it’s been teaching his 6-year-old son to read and write. Children are by far the most common response I get on this type of question. I can understand why- they’re so innocent and pure that they embody the joys in life.
The worst was watching his best friend get fatally shot when he was 16.
I must admit I’m always fascinated by stories of ‘urban friction'; it’s so far outside the realm of my experience that I really want to understand. In high school ‘With Justice for All’ was definitely my favorite lit class because it examined the injustice and disparity in our country and our culture.
Ever since then (and probably even before) I’ve really wanted to find a way to use the privilege I’ve been provided to make culture more peaceful and accepting. It’s great because it gives me something bigger than myself that I feel is worth working towards. Only problem is it’s easy for ‘working for change’ to feel like a struggle in which I’m a grain of sand trying to stop the tides of the ocean. And many wise people will tell you (and do tell me repeatedly) not to throw away the joy in your own life over perceived unhappiness in the world at large.
I’m at an interesting junction with this. I think I’ve found a way to experience joy and peace while at the same time putting my energy towards a movement I believe in. The trick seems to be to live and love right now no matter what, and to feel good about simply being a tiny part of evolution. Rather than basing fulfillment on results as we’re conditioned to since day one from exams and salaries, I’m learning to base fulfillment on action, intention and experience. That way I can do everything I want and love it regardless of how much effect I realize it has.
I think one reason people often shy away from living outside the norm or devoting their life to something other than family is because the rewards are intangible and hard to quantify. Maybe if the meaning of ‘virtue is it’s own reward’ was more commonly experienced more people would.
That’s not to say that there’s anything better or more just about devoting oneself to a cause or set of principles; there isn’t. But I do think that the joy and fulfillment it can bring are pretty awesome, and that the only real difficulty is letting go of needing validation for one’s actions.
When I asked Dimitrius what he lived for, what his purpose in life was, he said “I’m stayin’ out of trouble and doing right by my family. That’s what I know I need to do.” True Mr. Pryce, true. I imagine you’re also hoping to make a little impact with your book- I’ll be sure to check it out when it gets published :).