Today, I got up bright and early to attend a yearly retreat for the Advisory Board of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. I'm going on my second year as a part of the Advisory Board, and really believe in this organization. The mission of the Western Center is to enhance the lives of low-income Californians through policy advocacy and impact litigation for all sorts of issues including housing, healthcare, and public benefits. The small but dedicated staff of the Western Center is truly impressive, and I'm proud to support the organization through my participation on the Ad Board.
Once I received my diagnosis, I knew that I could drop a lot of my community-related obligations for a while and most people would understand, but under no circumstances would I ever do that. Instead, I'm not only fulfilling those responsibilities, but embracing new ones. Despite my current battle royale with "the cancer," I'm the chair of the Ad Board's annual cocktail party fundraising event called "The Fair Shake," which will take place in late June. Like cancer could stop me from throwing a great party.
I mention my involvement in the Western Center and my retreat today because it felt really great to be with my friends on the Board today. I told them about my current cancer adventure and this blog, of course, but I was also active in our discussions about our plans as a group in the upcoming year. It feels good to be part of a group with goals that are larger than any one person's, a vision of a better world for everyone. This is part of the reason I became a lawyer (I also like to argue) and a big part of why I'd like to run for office one day. Amidst all the me-focused attention I'm giving myself these days, it's also important for me to remain engaged in my community -- not just because my community benefits from my efforts, but because I've always benefitted from being a part of it.
I'm always inspired and encouraged by a quote from one of my heroes, Cesar Chavez -- a quote that I included in my graduation speech at Duke:
We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.
Today reminded me that I've got other fish to fry besides killing cancer. Good thing I'm a multitasker.