Skinny Dipping in Indonesia

July 14 2017

I probably shouldn’t have gone skinny dipping in Indonesia.

It was a bit too late and we’d had a bit too much to drink but there was (close to) a full moon a (closer to) chance of a making out. Plus it was Bali and I was 24. So I got in.

The water felt perfect over my skin, deliciously warm and salty and glittering in the real life cliché way the Ocean will be. I danced beneath the surface, allowing my body to be carried by the heaves of the ocean’s tide.

At some point, however, I tip toed past a point where my toes reached the sand and my playful rolls turned to panicked thrashes. It became harder to find the surface and I picked up less breath with each gasp. The waves kept crashing down over my head.

Well, tonight, I’m sitting in a campervan in the middle of Colorado, gazing at the stars, feeling the exact same way.

I’ve spent the past six months living in the aforementioned van, traveling around the country in a free mobile clinic I dreamed up three days after the election. I’ve met with more than 1300 people in detention centers and deserts, on farms and family restaurants. In schools, churches, ESL classrooms and libraries across the U.S. And I am more emotionally and physically exhausted than I have been in my entire life.

Because the waves keep on crashing down in this country. I can barely keep up. I’m going to guess that most of the social-justice-activists/ direct-service-workers/ full-time advocates-for-the-cause in your life feel the same way.

So it’s time for all of us to strip off our clothes and get into the water.

Changing the world, saving the world, is a group project now. Maybe before it was ok for everyone to care a little and a little group of people to care a whole lot but we’re beyond that point at this moment in time. I don’t think any of us want this to ever happen again. we’ve got to take little steps, baby ones, to ensure we aren’t all sprinting to our Senator’s office in the future. Avalanches can be prevented, lives can be saved, but not if we all wait until the last minute. And we can’t keep depending on those we’ve always depended on to do the work because they’re drowning.

I truly believe that each of us has a role to play in changing the world, and we can do it by doing things we love. TV show writers can shift power dynamics, bankers can join boards, personal trainers can give monthly classes at a Domestic Violence shelter. Throw anything at me and I’ll work with you on how we can make a big shift.

In fact, that’s what I’m up to next. After this crazy road journey. After I move back to my hometown of Western Mass (reach out if you’re nearby) I’m stepping out of the spotlight and working to support non profit leaders, social entrepreneurs, corporations, companies, career shifters, students, and anyone wanting to make a better world. Email me! And if you'd like to send me ways you are changing the world to give me hope against the crashing waves, I would love that too!

So, my dear listserve, my request/challenge/opportunity for you is that you jump in head first. Waves are beautiful and frightening, kind of like life. Dive in, swim around, and do wonders with this joyous burden of being human.

With love, hope, and adventure,

Lauren Burke
[email protected]

PS. Thanks to Pete Martin, a wonderful friend who told me about the listserve a few years ago. I’m happy you exist.

Currently Colorado
[email protected]

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