Sunday, July 23, 2006

How did I get to where I am going? A first post and look back!

I never realized it would be so hard to leave LA. It's funny how four years can change your outlook on life so much. When I first moved to LA, one of the things I hated the most was the abundant amount of freeways. And my last night in LA, as I glided from the various freeways (the 1 to the 90 to the 405 to the 10 to the 110 to the 101) I found myself realizing how much I loved this big sprawling city.

And so, packing up my car and heading out, I couldn't help but let a tear or two (ok, maybe a hell of a lot more) drop from my eyes as what I have called life for the past four years became nothing more than a fading backdrop in my rear view mirror.

My life in LA was so rich with diversity and experience. It was at LMU that I found my passion lay not really in politics, but in the fundamental notion of what politics should be to me: service. It starts and ends with two programs: Magis and Alternative Breaks. From service trips to the far ends of the world with AB to tutoring in South Central and running a marathon to raise the $15,000 needed to send a kid in the D.R. to school and to build a house in Mexico (picture included), I found the lessons I learned in my Poli Sci classes being lived out in my passion for service and diversity, and I found in the end, my friends were indeed a caring and diverse group of people.

My freshman year I fell in love in a quite unexpected way. I went on my first Alternative Spring Break and in Kentucky spent a week working on improving the house of a single mother and her three children. I have tried a countless number of times now to explain what that experience meant to me but all I can say is this: it was through working with this mother that I was reminded of my own mother, a single parent herself, and her many struggles. And very quickly, service became more than something I just did, it became a core part of who I was.

It was my sophomore year in Guatemala that I discovered poverty comes in more forms than material, and I spent the next year or so figuring out how to nourish my own spiritual and emotional poverty.

Junior year in Ecuador introduced me to poverty with no beauty, no opportunity to romanticize what I was being told to witness.

And in my senior year on my trip to the Dominican Republic where I lived with a host family for a week, poverty adopted a name: Tata, Yihara, Robby, Leo, Amouris, and Juan. And suddenly, poverty never hurt so much.

Because of LMU, I understand what it means to get ruined for life. And while I will not go with the Jesuit Volunteers, I will leave the bluff and spend 27 months being a man for, but more importantly, with others in the streets of somewhere, Chile with the Holy Cross Associates. I am so thankful for my four years and the education I have received in AND out of the classroom that have gotten me to the point where I can take that leap and I look forward to the two years I have ahead, not only learning about justice, but once again, doing justice.

And so as the memory of LA and LMU fade more and more into the distance of my rear view mirror, I find myself reflecting on how thankful I am for the many people from so many walks of life that made LMU the enjoyable and life-giving experience that it was. From my brothers in Magis (Brian, Christian, Aldo, etc...), to my CLC Arrupeans, the most incredible former girlfriend (sounds odd I know) Elizabeth Luppino, the friends like Paola and Tish, and the many many mentors (Father Engh, Tri, Ted, Pam, Henry Ward, JMAC, the list could go on). I was so blessed and only hope to use those blessings beyond the time I had them, and indeed carry them all the way to South America.

And so I could try and end with some great words of wisdom that I came up with in this little coffee shop, but I'll leave that to those better with words and more quoted than me. Here's to the start of a great journey!

It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action." Marian Wright Edelman

"Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of food, your closet full of clothes - with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That's not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating." -Michael Crichton

1 comment:

Chris Felkel said...

Pat, continue to be moved by your heart--it will guide you to places you never knew you Los Angeles.

In regards to following your heart... the heart knows all that you need, but only if you listen. This is because the heart is bound to eternity and all "God" if you will.

PS Have Fun!