Long before we were born,
the universe carved us from the stars.
Life struggles were mapped before us,
like yarn stretched between wooden pegs.
Intersections and constellations and introductions
attractions and revelations and liberations.
Hair flaming in the wind
fingers stretched towards the sky,
the dragon swallowed her sun.
she could breathe again.
I was trying to count all those bulbous candies that never seem to get eaten by anyone when you asked me what you did and it rattled around and has settled inside my ribcage somewhere without a sound. It reminded me how much quieter this is than I thought it would be – I thought it would be much louder, or darker maybe, with a harshness or something but it’s not. It’s really quiet. Not the pin-drop eerie type of quiet or the calming snowfall quiet but the background noise quiet that is always there in the empty rooms, whether you’re there or not.
I think I’m nodding like that because one of the semicircular canals in my inner ear is misfiring or it could just be paroxysmal otolith dislodgment or maybe I’ve got aortic regurgitation but no I’m not nodding in agreement with you because I keep looking at that paper and there are circles that weren’t there last week and that ink is highly proliferative, anaplastic, malignant don’t you know.
Let’s see well, I’m living in places I’ve never lived before. For a while I lived in a tiny vacuum that took me everywhere. Which was convenient I guess except for the fact that I couldn’t feel anything or hear any of the people or the conversations or the bumps in the road. I miss those. Oh and then there was the wet place. Which was the worst because I had to keep wiping it off my face in the car or in class or when someone was speaking to me and I could see it in their face that they knew but just nodded and looked away.
The roommate is back and he scares the shit out of me.
When he first arrived months ago, I didn’t expect him. He just showed up one day. I remember I was sitting at my desk and heard the front door downstairs. I sat in my chair, terrified, listening to him walk up the stairs. I waited for him to open the living room door, but he never did. He just stood out in the hallway, waiting. He never left. Then I realized what was happening.
I’d never been so afraid of myself. I refused to let myself be alone. Until one day, I came home and realized the sun shining through the window and I could breathe again. I could see a future ahead of me. He was gone.
The roommate is back.
This video has become my anthem – one that I could probably recite backwards in my sleep. Every single day I let it’s words sink deep in my tissues and reverberate off my ribcage.
Because it is so easy to forget
that you truly have no idea what you are capable of.
Never be discouraged.
Never hold back.
Give everything you got.
Fall forward. – Denzel Washington
I never used to cry during movies.
Those people quietly sobbing and blowing their noses during movies never made sense to me. The truth is, I just didn’t have enough experiences yet. As I grew older, I realized the pain my mother endured leaving her abusive marriage, and I watched the golden view of my father wither away into a person I don’t recognize. I watched horrible things get worse, and instead of not feeling anything during movies, I began to feel too much. It’s like watching a movie where a parent loses their child, and the parents in the audience are the only ones crying.
Today I was walking through the hospital to the cancer Institute, like I do every morning, when a glossy photograph of a neurosurgeon in the hallway caught my eye. I’d seen this collage of pictures on the wall hundreds of times, but today it hit me:
I can do anything.
Neurosurgery is actually the last thing on my career list, but today I remembered that if I truly wanted to do it – I could. If I decide that my heart truly sings when it’s transplanting lungs, or threading catheters through veins to remove a blood clot, or rushing off in a helicopter to the scene of an accident, or finding new herbal treatments for cancer – I can do it.
But this wasn’t always my future. My roots were born where Christmas didn’t happen every year, the government paid for my school and my lunches, and I knew the stale taste of food banks. My childhood friends have grown up to flaunt their bare bodies for money, and I have no doubt that my future wouldn’t have been much different had I not driven myself to pursue something that I believed was impossible. This wasn’t something that was handed to me or something I stepped into.
You have to have a vision – one that you create. One that you don’t have to push yourself towards because it pulls at you. You have to gain the passion and the unwavering confidence to know that even though the other guy has a million things you never did, you can fall seven times and stand up eight. You’ll show up earlier and work harder and longer, and you’ll be happier the whole way through – because this wasn’t something that was handed to you.
As I bee-line towards the East Coast over valleys and states, I have realized the irony in my temporary escape:
My father, bound in dependence and adult briefs in the corner of an assisted living home, re-iterated his death wish to my sister just before my plane took off.
My mother, buried in years of depression that had been washed over by alcohol and pain pills, was headed to the hospital.
Yet here I was, strapped in and headed to a national conference where I would be surrounded by patients whose greatest wish is to simply stay alive.
I am traveling from those who don’t care to stay alive, to become immersed around those who would do anything for it.
What a divine coincidence.