Thursday, September 5, 2013

What's Your Monkey?

What’s your monkey?  This question has become a regular topic of conversation at my house recently.  At first read you might think about the proverbial “monkey on your back”, but in this case, it is something more inspirational. In a recent conversation, my wife talked to co-worker (I’ll call her “Martha”) about her passion for a particular mission work in Eastern Europe.  Each year, Martha saves money and plans a trip to the area where she works with this mission.  This mission work is her passion and priority.  Her inspiration for this work came after an epiphany she had about passion and meaning in her life. Martha described how she had been unhappy in her job and with a boss that she was not particularly fond of.  She had been at home convalescing from a recent surgery and while watching T.V. one evening she saw a story on Dian Fossey.  Dian was a zoologist who was one of three women known as “Leaky’s Angels” who were recognized for their study of primates.  Jane Goodall studied and fought to preserve chimpanzies, BirutÄ— Galdikas  studied orangutans, and Dian Fossey studied gorillas.  Dian was killed in 1985 by a still unknown assailant.  It is believed that she was killed because of her work to fight poaching of gorillas.  Martha noted the passion Dian had for her work and for the gorillas.  Dian had been so dedicated to her work that she had died for the cause.  Martha thought to herself,”am not going to let my job and my boss be the ‘monkey’ that I am willing to die for.”  She later was inspired by a story about the mission work in Eastern Europe and that has become her “monkey”.

My friend, Jim Bryson, was inspired to form a secondary school in Haiti known as the Joseph School.  Others I know are inspired to bring clean water to Malawi or to fight for the rights of women throughout the world.  Working in the nonprofit world, I have encountered those inspired by helping to save abused and abandoned animals and others who help with services for the homeless.  There are certainly some very important, but more mundane “Monkey’s” in the world like parenting.  I have met one or two people in my life that had no cause or issue for which they would sacrifice everything except their own financial gain or material success.  Most of the people I encounter are looking for ways to give back; ways to make a difference in the world.  The needs of the world can be overwhelming.  Our interests can be diverse.  It can be difficult to find that one “Monkey”.  Maybe we have more than one.  Perhaps there are different “monkeys” for different seasons in life. 

So, what is your monkey?  I have a couple.  What is that thing that you are passionate about?  What is it that you give your time, your money, and would even give your life for?  I wish I could tell you the secret to finding it if you have not already, but I think inspiration comes in a variety of ways.  If you are open, if you follow your interests and passions and if you try many things, you may find that thing that inspires your soul and ignites your passion.   If you found your “monkey”, share your story in the comments section.  I would love to hear it and you may inspire another.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters
                                                                                                Colossians 3:23