The above is what the pollution looks like 45 minutes outside Chengdu on an ok day.
The above is pretty self-explanatory. Garbage in a creek, not totally unusual anywhere in the world.
Air pollution, polluted waterways, economic development, those are the sort of problems I thought about a lot at my old non-profit job.
For my new job though, I use a tape measure, I shop for trucks and carpets. I read more rules and regulations in 30 minutes today than I ever did for my driver’s test when I was 16.
Not surprisingly, it’s fun work and I enjoy it so far. I enjoy my new colleagues. I am grateful, grateful beyond words for the job and the income and the opportunity to do productive work.
Except that the transition is hitting me hard, much harder than I thought it would.
It’s not the transition from unemployed to employed. No, it’s the non-profit to non-non-profit that has me unexpectedly all twisted up inside.
Why did I wake up last night in a panic at 3am because my job no longer involves “making the world a better place.”
Why could I not fall back asleep as I thought about the impossibly nice and charismatic beggar on the street by our house who I keep meaning to give money to but never do?
Why did I get choked up today when I saw our old toilet seats out in a trash pile, and a woman searching through them for useful scrap to sell?
I’m a bit confused and surprised. I wanted this job, I wanted the 8-5 back. I’m already happily getting used to having resources to do my job and the existence of order and systems (what the non profit world could do with a FAM!!!).
But what I didn’t count on was that I would want the sense of “doing good” back so badly.
In a way, I’m grateful. I think this dichotomy between enjoying my new job and wanting to keep doing something vaguely humanitarian will push me to be creative and “do more” in a way that staying home never would have.
But what to do? Especially in a city (and country) with very, very few volunteering opportunities? I’m going to be doing a lot of thinking over the next few months I think.
Have you ever left the chaos and lack of resources in the non-profit world for the order and abundance of government or private sector work? How did you make your peace? What did you do?