18 May 2007

On aspiration, philosophy, and relief.

Cause when push comes to shove you taste what you’re made of
You might bend ‘til you break, 'cause it’s all you can take.
On your knees you look up, decide you’ve had enough
You get mad, you get strong, wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand
--Rascal Flatts,"Stand"

If you're still reading, and wondering why I'm starting a blog post with song lyrics (when I've vowed so many times that most people who do the same should be punched in the head)... it really is me. The safety word is "Hyacinth." I have not been kidnapped, lobotomized, and replaced on this earth by aliens (or bicycling missionaries) poised at the edge of a coup against society.

It's just been a long couple of weeks.

I passed my qualifying exam, and I'm very, very relieved.

I didn't really appreciate until later what I had been thinking, while I was waiting in the hallway for their verdict, the memory of my blank silences and dry-mouth stuttered explanations fresh in my own ears: what would I have done differently? The logical answers came of course.. study longer.. study smarter.. finish the lists of possible questions I'd come up with, and then study those. But the priorities that had actually taken precedence over this plan of mine in the week leading up to the test.. my family and my friends.. were never once called into question. Not for a second did I wish I had locked myself away in a room, ignoring the people who I care most, when they needed me.

Over the last few months, the concept of success, hard work, the need to excel in my 'profession' have become more important to who I want to become as a person. But I never, ever want to be a person who puts work above the needs of those closest to them. What kind of success would that be?

The way I prioritized these things without even thinking didn't actually sink in as important until I was reading a book the next evening that Half-dozen lent me, called the five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom. Its not a book about religion, as Sideshow assumed when I showed it to him. At least, it wasn't for me. It's a book about self-reflection.

"Sacrifice," THE CAPTAIN said. "You made one. We all make them. But you were angry over yours. You kept thinking about what you lost.
"You didn't get it. Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. Its not something to regret. It's something to aspire to. Little sacrifices. Big sacrifices. . . .
" . . . Sometimes when you sacrifice something really precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else."

There are big sacrifices. Going to war, regardless of whether you support the cause or not, would be one. Giving up your life to your children, to really make them the first priority, would be another. And there are little ones. But whether great or small, they're made every day when we make a choice. And, relieved as I am that I passed.. I'm more affected by the knowledge that when opportunity was provided to question such a choice, I didn't. It's easy to be a selfish person, to rationalize other people out of the equation when considering my own hopes and fears. But because of this one thing.. maybe there's hope for me.

I'm very, very relieved (if not mildly self-righteous. We'll see how long this lasts.).

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