Posts Tagged ‘taekwondo’

Vestigial Me

Surviving my first semester as a pre-vet undergrad was no overwhelming task. I remember a time not too long ago when I wondered if the science-based classes were going to be too hard for me. Having had few science classes in high school, and those being not quite of the par of what most high schools offer, I never had any idea of whether or not I was actually going to be capable. It was similar to my first semester in taekwondo: I would watch those who were training to receive their black belts, and I knew that if I ever had a dream of getting to that point then I would have to be able to do everything that they were able to do. And they were able to do many things I could not.

I had no idea if my abilities would ever be adequate.

But that is the beauty of taking things one step at a time. First you learn the basic steps. You learn the simple maneuvers and you become comfortable with the atmosphere. You adjust to the difficulties you never knew existed, and you look ahead to the next challenge. The pivotal point comes when you break your first board. It’s a moment when you can’t turn back. You can’t go back to not being able to do it. You can’t go back to not knowing if you are capable. From there you can only move on or stop.

I’ll never be able to go back to the point when I didn’t know if I could break wood with my bare appendages. I’ll never get back to the point when I question my ability to calculate the de Broglie wavelength in nanometers of an electron with a mass of 9.11 x 10^23 and a velocity of 2.2 x 10^6 meters per second. And one of these days I may or may not ever be able to get back to that point when I don’t know whether or not I will ever be able to give open heart surgery to a western lowland gorilla on the jungle floor of the Congo. 🙂  It’s all about taking things one step at a time.

That being said, my greatest challenge of the semester wound up being my transition back into the “real world.” As classes finally wound down early last week I first felt the obligatory joy, which melted into an inexplicable apprehension. The more time that passed when I did not have to be in a specific place doing something specific and seeing the same specific people at the same specific time, the more restless and empty I felt. I had poured my entire self into doing well in my classes, which I did, but I felt abandoned as my rigidly scheduled life disintegrated before me. As silly as it sounds coming from someone who has interests and passions as diverse as my own, I suffered a certain degree of identity crisis that day and for several days following. I found myself completely unable to study for finals for the good first half of last week. I didn’t do much of anything but brew in existential angst. I didn’t know what I was possibly going to find to fill the next three weeks until school started again. Someone asked me at one point last week what I do for fun, and I had absolutely no answer to give. I honestly did not know.

My balance had been knocked askew by my ambitions over the course of the past few months, and I hadn’t even had the time to notice. I’m not sure how or when the haze began to lift, but I slowly began remembering all the things I had been setting aside in order to focus on my studies. I remembered what it feels like to want to draw for hours on end, or to have the time to watch a movie without feeling as if it were just another task. It took some time and it wasn’t easy, but I finally began to feel some life in those phantom limbs of mine. And I’m delighted, at last, to have a few weeks to devote to myself, to reshape what I hadn’t even realized I had lost.

And so, as a response to no one in particular, regarding the question of what I like to do for “fun,” I’ve come up with an answer all my own…

Dear Anyone,

I never quite know how to answer the question, “What do you do for fun?” I’d much prefer it if someone would ask, What do you do for joy?

For joy I spend time each week with my family, catching up on our daily lives and small personal victories and dramas. For joy I put on my favorite playlist and get lost in my latest drawing. For joy I cuddle up in bed at night to watch a documentary on my laptop. For joy I spend a lazy hour or two in the library or a bookstore, soaking in the overwhelming possibilities and diversions.

For joy I take a summer evening stroll up the Monon with someone special, stopping off in Broad Ripple to eat or grab a drink out on a patio somewhere. For joy I take on a new creative project, whether or not it ever ends up getting finished. For joy I feel the spontaneous need on a mild spring day to feel dirt on my hands and grass under my feet. For joy I own a porch swing, and a fire pit, and a bicycle, and a telescope, and a tent, and a picnic basket.

For joy I go to the dollar theatre and see whatever was popular four months ago. For joy I stop off at the IMA to visit my favorites and to see what’s new. For joy I grow flowers in the summer. For joy I count turtles basking along the canal. For joy I curl up in an armchair on a rainy day with a good book. For joy I take a weekend road trip to somewhere not too far, but far enough. For joy I get dressed up for a night at the symphony. For joy I ask someone to teach me something new. For joy I write, in my journal or my blog. For joy I watch thunderstorms passing through.

For joy I daydream, and wonder about small things and big ideas. For joy I take naps on a free afternoon. For joy I try to take note of every pleasant sight, smell, sound or feeling wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. For joy I like to share a familiar experience with someone I care about; to experience my love of something special vicariously through fresh eyes and a fresh mind.

For joy I take the time to be myself, because that is how I find joy in sharing.



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