Friday, May 24, 2013

A Letter in Darkness

I haven’t posted in many, many months.  For those I have spoken to in person, you may know that this past year has been simultaneously one of the best and worst of my life.  All rolled into one joyfully aching mess.  I matched into University of Washington’s surgery program, I graduated from med school, and I even completed an ironman distance triathlon up in Napa Valley.  Truly, it has been an amazing journey, but one where celebration seems constantly juxtaposed against personal loss and mind-numbing grief.  I am learning to ride the highs and the lows and if nothing else, learning to put one foot in front of the other.  There is so much to say but there is also nowhere to begin.
I think when things are going well, it is hard to grasp how imperfect life can be.  That is the beauty of healing—that a collection of good and pure moments can wipe away past darkness, no matter how immersive that darkness may have once been.  In happiness, we all tend to forget what pain is.  In celebration, in tender moments, in joy, we are allowed to forget.  So the past four years of med school have in many ways been the happiest of my life.  And in many ways, without getting into details, I was totally unprepared for my personal life to fall apart.
I think sometimes I am under the false impression that with talent, hard work, and with commitment to character, we can eliminate misfortune.  True joy seems invincible, and that is why it is called joy.  But no journey is without stormy stretches.  Life is humbling, and at times it will bring you to your knees.  It is unfair and incomprehensible, and during such times, if nothing else, you learn to crawl.  Because that is all you can do.  And as your knees scrape the ground, for periods you might even wonder if you will walk again.  Because pain can also seem invincible.  The kind of pain that seems to drown out hope and beckons forth shadows from every corner.  Real pain.
I am learning that when life brings you to your knees, you just have to learn to crawl.  I guess the paradox has always been that without pain, there can be no empathy.  Hope, and comfort, and healing only matter to those who have been taken to their knees.  For those who know what it is to crawl.  Life is humbling, and it is unfair, and there are people who crawl for an entire lifetime.  So I’m learning. Because it is not only in war that we must find it in us to crawl.  But also in love.

Thank you to all my friends, to all my family, and to all who have walked (and perhaps crawled) beside me, no matter how briefly. To you I owe the world.

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