A month ago, I got a tattoo. My first one. One that I had wanted for years, and I finally decided to put my thoughts into action. I had just moved to a new city, just started my postgrad life, and I needed to do something bold to accompany this life change.
I chose to get the Hebrew word kavanah–meaning intention, focus, or purpose–tattooed on my left forearm. Additionally, it can also be understood as “direction of the heart”.
Throughout the years, I’ve found the concept of kavanah to be continuously inspirational and motivating. I believe that it is extremely important to actively be mindful of what we’re doing, and why we’re choosing to do it at this particular moment in time. Each one of us has a story that has led us to this point. At this point in my own life, I’ve chosen to spend a year living and working in Philadelphia as a Fellow with Repair the World. Repair the World is a national Jewish non-profit that seeks to engage young adults in volunteer work and make it a more active part of their lives. I absolutely love the work that I have the opportunity to be a part of here, and I look forward to the chance to do something new every day.
However, placing myself in the field of social justice and non-profit work comes with its own slew of difficulties. Each day, I find myself frustrated by the racial injustices that our system perpetuates, by the stereotypes that are held by so many walking down the street, and simply by the vastness of the troubles that seem to endlessly plague our society. When dealing with all of that on a daily basis, it can quickly feel unsettling and overwhelming. But I’ve found that despite the frustrations that these cause, we’re all looking for something; we’re all looking for meaning. We’re all looking for the reasons behind why we do what we do, and why others do what they do.
I’ve found inspiration in kavanah, in understanding the intention behind these interactions. Each one of us brings something to the table, and I believe that it’s extremely important to consider this as much as we are able. We’re repeatedly given the beautiful ability to take step back from the situations in which we find ourselves, and become more self aware and reflective. Are we truly putting our full selves into these moments? When I’m out volunteering here in Philly, am I really putting my full effort and passion into that experience? If not, what can I do to see this moment in a different light, and give it my entire self? I find that taking that pause gives me the chance to take a step back and remember why I’m here. Life is full of meaning; we just have to take notice of it. Kavanah continually inspires me to refocus, reimagine, and reconnect, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it helps me to transform and grow throughout the rest of this year.
This post originally appeared on the Repair the World Philadelphia Tumblr at http://rtwphilly.tumblr.com/