Sunday, March 25, 2007

And then it came to a gentle stop… or how I allowed my life to spin wildly out of control and had to wait it out…

Remember riding on the merry-go-round at the playground when you were little. And you’d hold on so tightly as your parents or friends spun it as fast as they could run, terrified that you’d lose your grip and fly off into the hard ground. Remember how you smiled as you screamed, loving every minute of the terror. And then, remember how gentle it seemed as the merry-go-round slowed to a delicate spin, how calm you felt as your heart slowed, your eyes adjusted to the gently revolving world, no longer a blur. Finally, remember how unsteady your legs felt as you climbed back onto steady ground. Now imagine that the merry-go-round spun until you felt sick - that it wouldn’t stop even when you started crying instead of laughing.

As my advisor so delicately pointed out last week, graduate school is about learning to balance. The imbalance of it serves to remind me of the difference between what I can do, and what I should do. Pushing the limits of a 24 hour day to see just how much fits, doing too much, struggling to keep up, and finally pulling back is starting to feel like a bad new exercise routine - just wait until the damage is barely healed and then rip the delicate tissue apart once again. Yet that perspective is often hard to see until the ripping is done, the pain is real, and one is left wondering how caution was thrown to the wind and judgment flew away with it.

And so my M2 year ends. It’s almost anticlimactic, with the craziness of February leading to the only slightly less crazy March, and finally finishing all of the commitments of student organizations as well as classes. Now that I have time to wax poetic and reflect on my “preclinical years,” I recognize that inspiration is easiest to find when well rested and fed. This is, of course, easier said than done. I’ve been thinking a lot about activism recently, and, with the wise words of many advisors, teachers, family, and friends, have come to the conclusion that activism most logically follows the same course as education. As you progress you no longer want to cover anything and everything, instead, you look for depth. You look to dedicate yourself to the few projects you can complete well, understanding that you will leave other pieces undone, hoping that someone else will pursue them with the necessary passion. And, just as my freshman year of college I was puzzled as to how I would fit every single subject into an 18 credit course-load, these last two years have been an exercise in realizing that I can’t do everything, but frequently ignoring that insight.

Which brings us to now - there are no more M2 exams, all of my student organization commitments are through, and I’ve firmly resolved to commit myself to AMSA’s new LGBT Health Action Committee next year (as chair!), and just say no to all the other organizations that call to me. I know this won’t be easy, but it can’t be as hard as February.

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