September 18 2013

Ideally, I would want this email to relate to every person here, in one way or another. My attempt is broken down into three parts. Let me know how I do.

Part One:

The best thing to learn to cook is gumbo. It is always delicious. Even if its not, throw some hot sauce and butter-loaded rice in there, and it’s delicious.

My favorite recipe comes from googling “New Year Sausage and Andoille Gumbo”. Of course, I use whatever meat I have handy, store-bought seasoning, and low-sodium chicken broth. The rice has to be cooked with butter and a bay leaf. And that’s the beauty of gumbo – it’s waiting to be perfected according to you. Go now and cook it. Holler if you need help.

Part Two:

"Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that? When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. Do you see? There is no act more wretched than stealing, Amir. A man who takes what's not his to take, be it a life or a loaf of naan...I spit on such a man.”

As an atheist, the most common question that pops up after the awkward pause is some variation of, " you know good from bad?"

To be honest, it's a frustrating question because I have always felt that my desire to be a decent human being was innate. I never spent time learning to justify it, but now I do. I reach out for different books, philosophies, poems, quotes, commencement speeches, fortune cookies, Snapple caps - anything that will put into words what I've felt all my life. The excerpt above is one passage I have found that did just that for me. It's basic, concise, and most importantly, true. I have stolen this for my own, and it is now a part of what I believe. The ideas I have about how to live are not radical or new. They have been spoken before, by someone, somewhere, in some manner unbeknownst to me. I just have to find them.

Part Three:

Try AmerCorps. A federally funded, full-time volunteer program that places participants into various non-profits throughout the country. As I like to describe it, it's like the Peace Corps. But in America. And for only 10 months.

Have a gap year to fill? Want to know what it truly means to give back? Want to try out living in a new city (for almost no cost)? Hate your job and looking for something different? Email me. Tell me what you're looking for. I'm in the love with the idea of what I'm doing right now, and I will spend however long it takes spreading the message that there is a program out with the sole purpose of providing perspective and fulfillment. Yes, that sounds cheesy. Yes, it means temporarily leaving the comfort of whatever life you have created for yourself. Yes, it's a difficult process. But I promise you, it will give you the breath of fresh air that you didn't even know you needed. Give me the chance to prove it to you.

[email protected]
Washington, D.C.

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