it all feels like ashes

these days have been feeling like disaster

with every moment that passes

I feel something shattering

I thought I was so sure of

who I loved

what I loved

and where on the horizon my dreams laid

but nothing feels like it’s in the right place

a transition from certainty to the unknown

is truly perplexing.

 

there is an inescapable gray

bleeding into my heart

but I can’t stop its rushing current

all I can do is lie here frozen

screaming for the colours

to come back.

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Convolution

For all those who wander are not lost.


For a long time

I’ve waited

to feel freedom

from beyond this fathomless trench

I spent years digging myself into.

 

But even as I walk down this golden path

I feel the tension beneath my feet

with every step

the shadows loom closer

taking delight in the consumption

of light hearts and gaiety.

 

it’s almost as if

someone has painted an ebony black

over the rainbow I had prized

as my most guarded dream

clearly

there is no such thing

as security.

 

Still I must not crumble

underneath this continuous weathering

the promise of better days

is not that far away

from beyond this blasted hurricane

I believe that clearer skies will light the way

towards a life that’s truly worth living.

150 – Mortality, Strength, & Perseverance.

I know it’s been a while. There’s so much that I want to write about, but the words seem to constantly escape me. But today, I refuse to run away from my own inability. These feelings are important. This is real. And writing will make me stronger.


The world seems different today, filled with a certain harshness I guess I had never truly felt until now. Mortality feels ever present, weighing upon everything I have ever believed in, and forcing me to re-evaluate where I want my dreams to take me. I think about what really matters to me and conflicting signals send my mind in turmoil. I am crushed. But I must not falter now.

It never occurred to me what the consequences of a stroke looked like. When I first heard about the incident, I thought to myself, Oh, he’s at the hospital, they’ll fix him up in no time.” It didn’t occur to me that even the most brilliant people could succumb to the physical aftermath of such an incident. Doctors aren’t miracle workers. They can’t fix everything no matter how much we all wish they could. Sometimes, doctors can save lives, but not preserve functions. Sometimes, people’s health conditions deteriorate and there’s nothing medicine can do but try to slow it down. These are all realizations that I came to understand while reading Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. Yet these realizations did nothing for me when I came to face to face with a loved one changed so drastically by something so unfortunate. I was shocked.

I wasn’t around when it happened.  Half the country away, in fact. I wasn’t here for the worst of it – when the world came crashing down around my best friend’s family. Her father, not mine, but I feel it all the same. I always looked up to him because he always did what a real father should while mine was ever absent. It’s irrational for me to feel so devastated when he’s come so far from where he was. I know rehabilitation takes time, that all one can do is hope for the best. Things like aphasia and memory problems are tricky – there’s no telling how and when they might improve. I know I should stay positive, but just the thought that he might not ever be able to see how far his daughter has come leaves me in tears. I think of how I might react if my mom was in the same situation. I can’t comprehend it. My friend and her family are so strong. I’m in awe of how well they’re handling it. I’ll be praying for continuous recovery even when I’m far away again.

This train of thought digs deep, finding weakness in my life-long dream. I want to be a geriatrician. To help elderly individuals and their families as they deal with the consequences of aging. Dementia, stroke, cancer are all very much possibilities for this population. While I know that I am still very far away from being in that position, I think it’s important that I steel myself now, rather than later. I don’t want to detach myself from future patients, but I also cannot afford to be emotionally taxed every time someone I have come to know and love encounters devastating situation or nears the end of their life. I have to think now, if this is really the right path for me.

I guess I just have to do a little bit of soul-searching right now. Find optimism when all I can feel is despair. Be kind and strong, to help those that I love even when I feel paralyzed by fear. I need to find this strength and to become a better person. Hopefully, I’ll find just that in the next three years from medical school.

 

149 – a little escape 

In London (Ontario) for the weekend and it feels really nice to be away from all my stress at school. I know it’s all just going to start again on Monday, but for now, I can just enjoy a little piece of happiness. 

I can see the stars again. It feels surreal after not having been able to see them much in Toronto. I feel at peace here, like everything is going to be alright. I hope that this feeling follows me back tomorrow. 

Everyone I’ve met here is really nice and willing to chat about their experiences. It’s not even my interview date, but I feel welcome here. It’s refreshing. I’m super glad I decided to come a day earlier. The med student that’s hosting me is incredibly friendly – I’m relieved we get along. I feel like I fit in here and hope I get in. 

Time to get some sleep so I can do my best tomorrow. I’m nervous, excited, yet oddly calm because of the wonderful atmosphere. It’s a weird mix. I like it. 

walls of gray

broken down by my inadequacy

I don’t know how to face it anymore

they say nothing

but I feel it by exclusion

I no longer pretend to feel welcome

beyond those doors

though I struggle to accept

this hollow state of mind.

 

I keep on pushing through

just a few more months

one week at a time

but it’s really all too much

even my best efforts

to numb these currents down

are fruitless

I lie shattered

broken and weathered

unable to pick myself up

unable to hold on

to that sliver of hope

and so I find myself engulfed

entranced in inhibition

privy to these crushing thoughts.

 

I cannot see the horizon

beyond these walls of gray.

148 – dreams shatter, but we carry on.

I fell into a deep slump last semester. Burned out from classes and research, all I could do was try my best not to let depression get the best of me. In November, it took all I had not to burst into tears every time I stepped into the lab. I dropped one of my courses and felt really out of my element even in classes I thought I would be comfortable in. My ability to write in a fourth year level course was questioned and even now I’m not sure I have the confidence to say I’m a good writer anymore. Without a doubt, this has been the worst year of my undergrad, exceeding the horribleness that was my turbulent first year in which I spent every month at the doctor’s with another physical illness.

Still, I’m halfway there. I’m sure I’ll make it through somehow. I haven’t gotten all of the details worked out quite just yet, but I’ll get there. One way or another.

My absolute lowest moment came from a rejection email from UBC. With that, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill my goal of studying back home. With that, I began to doubt whether or not I was even good enough to have my dream become reality. I thought then that maybe I wasn’t smart enough and that I should be considering an alternative career. But those negative thoughts blew away when I talked to my mom over the telephone. She assured me that even if I got rejected from every school that she would support me trying again or taking the time to find a new dream. I’m really lucky to have her support. She also told me that she’d come live with me for a year if I got into med school somewhere else – though I’m not sure I’ll take her up on that offer since I don’t know how well my brother can handle living alone (despite being five years older than me…). Regardless, failure became an option for me and not the end. Just another possibility that I needn’t be afraid of.

Things have gotten a little easier this semester, but not by very much. I’m still struggling in the lab, but have gotten more or less numb to disappointment. I still hate the thought of letting down everyone the lab, but my inability was shattering every inch of self esteem I had left. I think it’s best not to think about what others think of me. Especially if they’re not good things.

I think my perspective has shifted a little – especially after hearing that one of my old high school teachers has struggling with untreatable cancer – something he dedicated a lot of his time and effort into raising awareness and money for. I’ve always had the mentality that the present is more important than the future – to enjoy the small, happy moments as they come, but I’ve also placed a lot of my hopes on the future, on the life that I spend day-to-day fantasizing about living. I think hearing the news really shifted the timeframe of my mind a little bit more to what’s happening right now. Along the same train of thought, I decided not to apply for graduate school in Chemistry. It wouldn’t be something I’d enjoy and life’s too short to be spending everyday of a year or two on something that I wasn’t thrilled about. There are other options out there that I think I would enjoy far more even if taking a “gap year” is sometimes considered a waste of time (I disagree with that sentiment).

I got an interview invitation from McMaster so that’s one blessing that’s been thrown my way in this really tough year. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m prepared for that – it’s given me both hope and confidence that my dream doesn’t have to stay a dream. The interview, however, is a few days after the poster session for my thesis project – so I’ve only got so much spare time. Nevertheless, I want to make it through these next few arduous months with no regrets. If that means sleepless nights and caffeine-powered study sessions, then so be it. I’m ready for you, 2017.

I miss you, my monster.

It’s funny how in some of my darkest moments I do not seek comforting words nor kind embraces, but instead yearn deeply for a fiery anguish that I once fought against. I never wanted to be by your side when I was forced into your hands. I never did like you all too much when you were the biggest thorn in my life. I’m still not quite sure I like you now. Still, strangely enough, I miss you.

I’ve always thought of you as a monster: dark, and filled with all the frustrations I compounded within you; hollow, with no possible understanding of all the sorrow that I was consumed with; terrifying, because I always running away. So I’ll continue to call you monster.

Without me, you were worthless. With you, I was the one that felt that way. I felt like there were impassable barriers  – that I just didn’t have the talent to become your master. There was so much I wanted to express, but I never found the right notes to do just that. Always, always, I felt an insurmountable desire to give up. Always, always, I was forced back into your hand. I despised the redundancy of repeating the same melodies over and over, memorizing the movements as if I were just a machine. I just wanted to play new things all the time, but I knew that would get me nowhere.

Though sometimes, nowhere was okay. Nowhere was a safe place to be. I would slam the keys and cry my heart out, realigning the hard-pressed edges of my life. I would release every angry thought in a flurry of chords played fortissimo, pressing down the pedal so that everything meshed into one amalgamation of harshness. It was best when the house was empty, when I could immerse myself in some desperate melody. Though sometimes I just didn’t care, even if everybody outside could hear this disgraceful use of an instrument. Maybe a part of me wanted everyone else to see you for the monster that you were. The monster that you still are in my mind – because the memories never fade.

As much as I hated you then, I miss you now. I miss the sensation of release, of mindlessly pouring out my emotions as if you could absorb all the terrible things that I was feeling. I wish you were here in this cold, callous city to warm me with frenzied passion. I wish you were here to allure me to sleep with the gentle lullabies I always liked to play. I wish you were here to I could go through a stack of music and find solace in something more beautiful than I will ever create.

I…I have nothing more to say,

but I miss you.