About takinroot

Taking root in a set of new experiences, finding out exactly how to fill out this box.

Forgiveness

While on the drive back from Oregon, staring out my passenger window and refusing to look at him, I said, “I forgive you.” I wanted to believe those three words more than anything else I have said in my life. I wanted to get to that place, after all of these months of hurt. But I wasn’t there yet and I don’t think I am there still. 

Whether or not we choose to return to the relationship or move on from it remains a question. What does not remain a question is that I need to be able to let go of the past and forgive.

For a long time now, I have held onto the hurt. I have obsessively replayed the scenes and the lies over and over again in my head. I think, in a large part,  out of the need to protect myself, because they served as cautionary tales of what can happen if I give too much of myself again. 

But constantly living in that past has caused so much unhappiness in my life. I haven’t felt like myself and happy in much too long. I think I “knew” I needed to forgive a long time ago. But no one really ever handed out a guidebook on how to actually get to forgiveness. 

I can’t keep hoping for a different version of the past than what had occurred. What happened has happened and I need to let that pass, both for his and my sake. 

Advertisements

Ode to California

I fucking love you, California.

It took living in a dozen places and the last four and half years away to make me realize you’re my one. If my soul mate had a name and a face, it would be you, California. It would be the rides along the coast. It would be the sun. It would be the century-old trees. It would be the fog rolling over the city. It would be the “good mornings” on a beautiful morning. It would be you, California.

I’m taking root in you. 

Recognizing Limitations

I read back to my older entries in this blog this morning. Every time I pause during the past two years, I am always surprised at how much I have gained and how much I have gotten to known myself. Recently, I have had to go through the agonizing (and very fortunate) process of deciding between medical schools. In December, I was accepted to one of my top choices in the bay area. The situation was simple then. But a month ago, I was lucky enough to receive an email about acceptance to another program, with quite unparalleled opportunities in global health.The former offers the ideal environment for me to grow as a person; the latter for me to grow in my passion.

A year ago, the decision would have been simple. School B. Even a few weeks ago, I thought the same. My strengths have always been my resiliency and my adaptability. But then, I remembered my last trip to Haiti.

When I returned from my last Haiti trip, it was because I was deeply unhappy. I was burnt out in every sense of that word. I lost sight of some of those initial motivating factors that drove me to Haiti in the first place. The reasons for my unhappiness were complex. I still believed then and now that working to level inequalities is where my path lies. However, it is now about finding another path to that – a sustainable one that allows me to keep in sight all of the things that drew me to it in the first place. And part of that is recognizing my limits as an individual. It is about creating the best environment for me to give back so I can keep giving back.

Over the past six months in the bay, I have been recovering and finding balance. I sat down and identified the things that were lacking in Haiti, with WWR, that left me so deeply dissatisfied. There were so many that cannot be changed, but also some that can be helped. The lack of support and community was a particularly significant one. Now, about to enter another intense period of my life, I can’t unlearn these things I know about myself and I can’t put myself in that situation again, knowing it will take away from me what I loved about it in the first place.

There is a pride that comes with this, with having gotten to know myself better and with having been able to accept my limitations. My strengths are still my strengths, but they are not to be abused simply because I am capable of surviving through rough times. Surviving is not enough. I want to thrive because I love what I do. I don’t mean I see it without challenges or hardships, but that I am simply not so exhausted that I can’t remember why I had chosen to be there, do this in the first place.

Doing global health projects during medical school will be difficult. This is not the time to sap myself of my idealism. When I do my masters and can devote a year to thinking about global health – Boston will be the right place for me. Right now, it is not. The bay is.

Beyond stillness

I started this blog because I wanted to write about the transformations that occur during this period of my life. I have always thought of life as a constant evolving process of change – on a molecular level and on a metaphysical level. A sort of restlessness to it all. Metastasis. Meta – beyond. Stasis – stillness. Beyond stillness. Something poignant in a word that normally describes cancerous cells exploding inside the body.

Beyond stillness. I realized, however, when I began this blog that even though all of life is beyond stillness, there are periods of it that are particularly metastatic.That restless energy that uniquely threatens destruction in its overzealous striving for growth.

That restless energy drove me to seek for purpose, for an abstract meaning to my life a little over a year ago. It drove me to Haiti the second time around. The third time around. Again and again, I think it will bring me back to these corners of the world. However, over the past six months, I have been captured by a different sort of metastasis in me that has been set off by several interpersonal relationships.

As someone fiercely protective of her independence and individuality, I think I was afraid to admit how much these relationships have taken out of me in their intensity. A part of me is still fearful, even now, of letting myself be transformed by the interpersonal relationships in my life. From them, I have learned these key lessons:

1 – True human connections are rare. They do not occur often in life. They are incredibly powerful when they do occur, perhaps due to their rarity. And they should be given the opportunity to be powerful and transformative. They are worth being vulnerable.

2 – Remember and appreciate the moments for what they are in those moments, not transformed by the end or by things outside of those moments.

3 –  Fulfilling relationships for me, in the future and in the past, have to came with enough space for me to be my own person. My “I” not completely absorbed in the “We” of the relationship.

4 – The biggest moments and relationships of my life have all occurred outside of my control. Perhaps it is exactly because they escape my rational, type-A need for control that they are my most catalytic.

5 – Life is full of trade offs. But as Gilbert says – “Everything that is worth doing is worth doing badly” – and I cannot regret the choices I have made even when they fail.

To be beyond stillness. Metastasis. The explosion – the straining – for something larger than me. I suppose it was never really possible without pain.

Aside

I have began this post again and again. I have been trying to grapple with this tremendous paradox that what had shaken me to my roots a year before — the immensity of the system stacked against any individual person — is what has gauged me empty a year later. The world is so shit-big outside of your control in Haiti, it makes you wonder about God. And faith. It makes me think about the silence of Johannes de Silencio, grappling with the paradox of Abraham. About why he was word-less through it all.

It makes me wonder about death too.

On my last day in Haiti, we passed by the carcass of a dog, laying with her puppy next to her. Her tongue was out. Flies flying out of every orifice. The pup next to her was dead too, mouth close to her teat. People walked by in their Sunday bests, barely noticing the two stray, dead bitches. I will never forget that image — the trash piles, the flies, the white dresses and tiny blue bows–

Aside

I stopped journaling for a while, although I had promised myself not to. The past month of traveling and interviews has not given me the space and time to reflect. In some ways, I am glad. This trip to Haiti was rough, as all trips to Haiti have tended to be, although never before like this. Frustration, and sweat, and more frustration. I broke in ways that I didn’t think I can be broken in anymore. The trip is over, but Haiti never quite ends. She is there. One day, while eating my morning cereal and settling back into my American life, she’s going to break loose on me. But for now, she has been patient.

And luckily so. I have been traveling from city to city for the past four weeks and will continue for the next month. The superficial interactions that come with meeting new people have been a relief. They are fun, not emotionally exhausting.

Haiti has drained that side of me.