Saturday, August 25, 2012

resurrection fern

Who knows whether the circumstances of my life dictated who I became. All I know is that when I'm a little sad, I yearn for company. But when I'm really in the dumps, just low down and completely inconsolable, I just want to be alone.

Maybe it's because I've had this fight before, the one between me and my demons. Maybe it's because the demons are unpredictable- they'll show when you least expect them, and conveniently when others might not be around. Maybe it's because if I rely on someone else to cheer me up when I'm at my lowest, it puts me in peril if I should happen to hit rock bottom on a desert island.

Or maybe I'm just wired this way.

I was at my very lowest over a decade ago. I remember it well. I was marooned in Southern California, and the entire length of ground beneath me had crumbled. I was in big trouble. I was as alone as alone could be. There were people around me, friends even, of a sort. But not old friends. Not true friends. Not friends I've spoken of or to since.

I was already a scientist by that point. In fact, that was the whole problem- I was a scientist who had just been heartbroken regarding science. I wasn't sure I still loved it, not after what it had taken from me. And I was all alone, and even if I hadn't been, I'm not sure anyone else would have understood. I had a strange sort of math going on in my head.

Back then, there wasn't much in the way of an internet. I didn't even have a computer at home. So I visited the stacks. That's what I started doing. Every day, each morning, I would sit in the science library with the yellowed pages smelling deliciously ancient, trying to find it again. Trying to fall in love.

The trick was not to try. Eventually I stopped trying, and eventually I started reading about things which sparked my curiosity, which made my heart beat again with purpose. Then I was saved. Which I cannot explain, and nor do I care to explain. It's one of those selfish secrets that I may never share outside of these confines.

What I do, when I'm at my worst these days, when I'm having a rough time of it, is find something I love to read. Not just something I love to read. It can't be something I just love to read- because then it would be TS Eliot or Anna Akhmatova or something which would plunge me even deeper down into the blues. No. What works for me is to read about oncology. Which, I realize full well, sounds insane.

I was yelled at today because it's Saturday night and I refused to go out for drinks and instead I chose this:

First of all, Saturday night means nothing when you are working in the hospital. I worked all day today and I'm working all day tomorrow. Saturday night is just another work night. But also, I had a miserable day. A day that needed to get better. Or else. All the way bad. I should have read about Cardiology. That's what I should have done. But that wouldn't have soothed me, wouldn't have fixed what ailed me. So I turned to what I knew would work for me.

And I think that's the trick. That's the trick to everything in life, and that's what Van Gogh must have been talking about:

Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.

That's how I feel. When I'm at my very worst, it's not really that I need to feel loved. It's that I need to love something. And there's so much out there that's worthy, given half the chance.


Maitri said...

This is why I'm reading about proto-American revolutionaries while making earrings. You have to love much to make it in this world. And to ignore things like hurricanes which get in the way of your work and happiness.

sandhya said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time....and...I can only say that your writing has often said exactly what has been in my mind and, more than often, has made me catch my breath at the beauty and truth of your words.

thanks for continuing to write - despite how busy you must be...