The beginning of this project has many roots, but the most prominent of them, was the death of my friend Peter, by suicide, in 2013.
Peter left a lengthy note behind. It is at turns funny, insightful, and heartbreaking. In the days and weeks that followed his death, I read and re-read the 42 pages trying to get a better understanding of what he was thinking and what could be done to deter others from making a similar choice.
One of the concerns that most haunted Peter was the intrinsic understanding that we are here on Earth to help one another, to be a part of a larger humanity, but that we spend our time walled off by 9-5 jobs and geography and cultural divides. The idea that we are forced to spend so much time earning a living that it compromises our ability to live. The machinery of modern life stifles the opportunity to serve our highest purpose.
And I have spent much of my life asking the same questions, feeling those strains.
In 2014, as a tribute to Peter and as a challenge to myself, I decided that I would do volunteer work in all 50 states. I would work outside my community and outside of my comfort zone. I would do this at the same time I maintained my job as the head of a publishing company.
My guiding philosophy was that no matter what the headlines might broadcast in a constant barrage: We Are Not Doomed!
I planned my volunteer work around work trips, family events, vacations, and the invitations of friends scattered across the country.
I worked with the elderly, the homeless, veterans, children, animals, and the environment to better understand my personal purpose, and to hopefully get a glimpse of our shared mission as humans. I worked alongside loved ones, friends, friends of friends, internet friends, and absolute strangers.
If my expectations were that I would constantly feel good about myself and the world around me, that I would only know smiles and joy during all of my volunteering—my expectations were wrong. As it turned out, immersing yourself in the struggles of others, no matter how short the duration, can leave a profound mark.
But there is value in that mark and what it teaches us about ourselves and others, and how important it is to help shoulder the burden for others as we rely on others to help us in our moments of greatest need.
Now, more than ever, it’s important for us to remember that lesson. To discuss. To understand. To act on our abilities. To ask for help when it’s needed. To understand that we live individual lives as part of a universal human collective.
To remember–We are Not Doomed.
And that’s why I’m here and hoping you’ll join me. If you know somebody or organization that needs help, let us know. If you know a family in trouble and we can help, let us know. If you need help, let us know. If you want to help others, raise a hand. We can make the world a better place.
In the spirit of total love, I look forward to meeting up with you down the road.