Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Human Experience

Today I truly felt alive. While at James Madison College at Michigan State University I chose to study Social Relations. There were three other majors I could have picked at the time but I chose Social Relations because it made me feel something. As time went on I also picked up a love of Social Work. I suppose I felt the connection to social work because it took the learning I developed on the social relations front and literally put it to work.

When I was in third grade I decided I wanted to become an attorney. In fifth grade when given the assignment to write a dream career speech I came in third place out of 56 students as I described my drive and determination to become an attorney, to make something of myself. Through high school I focused my studies and my work study around that same goal. I was given the incredible opportunity to work for two attorneys as their secretary at the age of 16. I worked there through high school and continued on until my senior year in college. When I applied for college pre-law was all I had my mind set on. James Madison College was difficult it challenged me scholastically in ways that high school never did. Through my studies I came to love the study of people, the ways we think and work differently, the experiences we achieve based on culture and financial background among other things.

Ryan took Nathan and Audrey to practice riding bikes today while I stayed home so Elysse could nap. I found myself wondering what I should do - though I felt like I should pick up a book I went to Netflix instead and thought I might take a moment to veg. Instead I came upon this incredible documentary The Human Experience. It brought me back to my studies at James Madison. I thought more earnestly and critically than I have in quite some time.

The documentary involves two young men in their 20s, Jeff and Cliff Azize, from Brooklyn. The boys grew up in an a drug and physically abusive home. Jeff seemed to be the driving force behind the project of search. They were searching for answers to questions that involve who we are, why we are here and what we are going to do with our experiences. The two of them went many places and experienced different people and they found joy. Joy resonated from individuals you wouldn't expect to care for life or the situations they are in. There were several guest speakers with many good quotes about human experiences, the joy of life, the drive for purpose and families. The only part of the movie that disappointed me was the ending. Jeff had not seen his abusive father in more than 10 years and Cliff set up a surprise meeting. Though it may have been touching to most that Jeff and his father embraced it bothered me. Jeff told his father that he loved him and that he forgave him - that is important for Jeff, especially for his eternal well being. Yet the part that upset me the most when his father said do him, "you know how much I love you, don't you?" He never actually expressed his love and it always feels like manipulation when someone says that. There wasn't an apology or an expression of love. Jeff is an incredible young man that is going to make a difference in the lives of many.

1 comment:

Alex said...

We watched this documentary as well. We so bad want to see it. It comes to Asheville pretty soon I think.