Swan Song by Phoenix

As I write this, I am feeling both successful and content, as well as sad and defeated. It is difficult for me to express what I feel, and what I think about things, so I will start with a simple idea and feeling, and go from there.

From this point forward, my life is changing. Perhaps for the better, perhaps not. I must remain open. There are many things going on in my life, which requires me to look at things differently, and take certain steps. Now, I am feeling both positive and overwhelmed at where my life is going.

I am taking a sabbatical from being the staff writer of The Legacy Initiative. I plan on coming back, ideally in full capacity, but for now, I need to depart, so that way I can focus on the tasks ahead, and focus on the next stage of my life.

It is, in a manner of speaking, my swan song. I must reprioritize, so that way I can make the difficult changes ahead. I have learned that life is all about change, and often times, we have to do things that we don’t want to do, to be able to move forward in life and do good things.

I am going to miss writing for Legacy. Writing for this nonprofit organization has been remarkable, it has certainly been a very positive experience. In many ways, I have accomplished what I set out to do. My goal was to enrich the lives of the people around me as well as those that I served, with my journalism or sociology or philosophy or whatever you want to call my work, and I stand by that. I know that people have read my writing, and no doubt, that means a lot to me. I have worked hard on this project, to be able to shed light on what happens behind the scenes, what happens with serving those who are less fortunate.

I was really hoping, with my writing, to form a kind of revolution, within Legacy, which was already oriented as being a social movement and a kind of revolution. It has been stated by those who created the program, that the goal is to create a more compassionate society and to form community. My writing was an integral subset to this movement. I wanted to help educate others about the grim realities of homelessness, as well as the other components that fit in this topic, and I wanted to inspire others to serve others. In many ways, I don’t know if I succeeded with my writing, but I feel that in a lot of ways, it has been for the better. I put something positive in the universe, and I let others read my work. I think that is crucial and important. It is important to discuss and process very difficult matters, and my way of doing that and facilitating that was through writing and literature, essays.

It is no small achievement. But, I am humble enough to know when I must step down.

Moving forward, I still plan on serving the homeless. I still plan on doing my best to fight hunger and poverty. I will continue to practice compassion and empathy for others, and I will consistently do my best to serve others. I would say that, based off recent advancements in our community, we need to be able to serve others now more than ever. This means that my swan song, of activism through writing, is not going to be the way that I planned. I wanted it to be very positive, celebratory even, a positive reflection on what I have done with Legacy, but life has thrown a wrench into my plans. We are needed now more than ever, because I am seeing the homeless being pushed around by society at large, and it is very discouraging. It has never been this bad. We are criminalizing homelessness. We must continue to be compassionate. That is our duty. We must continue to care: that is our responsibility. It is not easy, and seeing these trends troubles me and makes me wonder if I accomplish anything at all. But then, I look back at what I have done, and I realize that I can still sing the swan song, even if it turns out to be bittersweet rather than merely sweet.

Serving others has been a complex endeavor for me. There were times where I had very negative experiences, for instance, with those I was serving with, and that really discouraged me. It made me feel as though I was incompetent at the work I was doing, and made me feel that I was making less of a difference than I thought. I wasn’t always pleased with those that I served, in all honesty, and there were many times where I was discouraged and thought that the work I was doing was meaningless to them. But of course, it wasn’t all bad, it was a learning experience, growing pains, and I learned a lot about service and duty, honor and responsibility. And I will not forget that.

So, I step away with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I did not achieve everything that I wanted to achieve, including making the world a more just and fair place. But on the other hand, I know that I did the best that I could, that I consciously cared for others and was there for others, and that I practiced important attitudes towards those who suffer.

So moving forward, what happens now? For now, I cannot answer this question, except continue to try and serve others in need, no matter how hard that is.

No doubt, I want a better world. Why else would I have spent over a year writing so intensively and so specifically? It is because, I hope that the world will change. I hope that things improve for those who suffer. I want hope, I want to believe that things get better because people get better. I want to believe that my work is important, and that it makes others smile and question things. Maybe some of this is overreaching and wishful thinking, but I nonetheless feel as though these are worthwhile goals to pursue.

Stepping down is not easy. In many ways, whether I like to admit it or not, I feel as though what is missing is a resolution. When people are singing their swan song, they are usually ready to leave their legacy behind. But anyways, I feel like I am just getting started. How can I ever be done, when there is so much that still needs to be done? It is hard for me to move on with my life, but forces are giving me no other choice.

So, what do you do with that? It is difficult, at the very least. If writing is activism, and the world needs more activism, and I am letting that go, how can I live with myself? I think about this a lot, but I realize that I have to be humble in my ambition, and realize that, in many ways, I am limited in what I can do. There is only so much that I can do. One of those things that I can do is write my heart out, which I will continue to do in some form or another, despite the changes happening in my life. I have to continue to do that, I have to continue to express these important truths. And no doubt, we are very limited in what we can do: but that is cause for hope rather than despair, because it is the small changes that make the biggest difference, even though we are taught that it is the largest actions that make a difference. I think a lot of it requires humility, as well as deep understanding. And, we can’t give up. We can never give up.
Serving those in need and writing for a nonprofit has changed my life. I went in ambitious with guns blazing. I went in wanting to tell the stories of those who suffer from homelessness, I went in very cerebral and theoretical, and very enthusiastic. But I came out humble and emotional, meaning, emotionally engaged. After many frustrations, I realized that I had a place in this, and I accepted that. As they say, I accepted my lot in life, and no doubt, I did the absolute best that I could.

I would say that learning to be compassionate is a process, and it is also a choice. We can choose to ignore the suffering of others, or we can choose to engage with them, and be there for them. I would say this is one of the most important lessons that I learned: we can always be more compassionate and loving, there is always more that we can do to serve others.

I do wish things were different. There were many moments when I was serving others that the suffering was just too much for me to see, all the suffering that I was seeing. I wanted to give up, I wanted to stop, and at times, I almost burned out. But, through it all, I learned that I am capable of making a difference, I am capable of doing much good. And, by extension, we are all capable of that good. There is so much that all of us can do.

I won’t pretend that any of this was easy, but it was rewarding. We have to recognize an achievement when there is one: Legacy has changed lives, and has brought hope to others, and has served relentlessly. I can say that I am a part of that, I can say that I wrote multiple pieces on this issue, that I told the stories of those who suffer, and of course, in many ways, I was an activist and I filled a need in the community.

I have enough material for a book. A book that I hope will be published. We live with each other, in society, by relating our stories and telling our stories, and this, I believe, is the beginning of something great. There is so much power and so much potential for us, there is so much that we can do and accomplish. And compassion is key.

It is supposed to rain today. Another change. But ultimately, I think change can work to our advantage, because it can make us more determined. I do believe in what I did and I believe in what I do. I will continue to feel inspired serving others, and I will continue to do my best. It is much needed in our complacent and cruel society.

But, no need to get down on others! As I move on, I realize, I am also moving forward. As I like to say, I am just getting started. And I find hope in that, because it means that the road is still open, and that there are many wonderful things that we can still do. This is important. It is important that I keep in mind these aspects of hope, these important aspects of compassion and duty. The world will not change on its own, it requires our complete attention. It requires our service. And yes, while it is hard work, it is also very important and rewarding work, and if you allow it, it can create a very powerful narrative arc in your life story, and it can inspire others as well as yourself. For we are always growing, we are always becoming better, more aware of ourselves and more awake. And while I know that I cannot save the world, I am grateful for what I was able to do, and I know it only gets better from here.

Change starts today.