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Friday, June 14, 2013


In my last entry, I was living in a fairytale. Life was really good, and it still is in many ways.

If there is one thing I keep learning, it is that life is not a straight or easy path. Rather, it is a meandering journey. Sometimes it takes me through shadowy, enclosed valleys, and other times, I find myself feeling like infinity, at the top of a mountain on a clear day with the wind caressing my cheeks. In the last six months, I feel like I've trekked the world's terrains-- the low points and the high points-- several times over.

I'm not really going to write much about my valleys of depression here-- not because I don't want to be honest with my experience, but mostly because it is still something scary to me. I don't yet know how to best talk or write about it, though I'm working towards that.* Suffice it to say, though, that unfortunately, much of my winter and spring looked like this. Oxford, and really, everything and everyone around me lost its color and glitter. I struggled to feel anything about my work, about my friends and family, and even while riding a dromedary through the golden sand dunes of the Moroccan desert. Everything was dull. The closest I could get to feeling something was cycling downhill without brakes and savoring the sensation of air rushing in my face.

I am grateful for the day in May when the sun came out, and somehow things were better. I'm not sure what my shriveled kernel of corn was, but somehow, I realized that if I could do something as simple as getting out of bed, then maybe I could do a little bit more with each day. Eventually, working from brushing my teeth, to doing laundry, to cooking a meal, to practicing piano, I realized that I was no longer in that shadowy valley. I wasn't at the top of anything either, but I had at least found myself in some sort of grassy pasture or meadow. I started to look forward to things again like my sister's wedding, and believe in myself. I knew it would be challenging to write the essays towards my degree-- work I had been struggling to engage with since January-- but it was now a challenge I felt ready to face.

The last couple of weeks have been a marathon and a whirlwind. Between traveling 22 hours each way to see my sister Carol get married in Honolulu, and returning to Oxford to battle jetlag while writing 11,000 words in four days, I have finally recovered and descended from my cloud of adrenaline to take a step back and process everything, feel everything in full. And when I do, it's bipolar, bittersweet. It is as if everything that is good is only so good because of the journey travelled. Seeing Carol in her dress on her wedding day was so breathtaking only because of how much I wished my mother could have seen her. Finishing my essays was only such a triumph because of those dark days I could barely lift my head. Sometimes I feel haunted by my past, haunted by the knowledge that it will always be there, hidden in the context. I think a more accurate representation, though, is thinking of the past, present and future as a process, like the weaving together of different fibres to form the rare fabric called life. The truly amazing phenomenon is watching the fibres of different experiences we share come together, our lives becoming forever intertwined in a glorious tapestry of human connectedness.

I am so grateful in my life for those who have stuck by my side: my parents, sisters, relatives, friends, mentors. I am grateful for those who, even though they couldn't travel my journey with me-- solitude being characteristic of journeys like these-- stayed on the sidelines as my personal cheerleaders; for those who cheered me on and believed in me even when I didn't. These people convince me in the power of love, for in my times of struggle, I have never before felt so loved nor so much love for others.

A mental snapshot I will always cherish: my sisters and I on the dance floor during Carol's wedding reception, swaying to the music, our arms interlaced in a ring, foreheads together, weaving fibres and sharing space as only siblings can.

*An excellent personal account of depression at Oxford by my friend Grace Kim-- I strive towards honesty like this. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! It was sooooooo good to meet you yesterday in Dr. Ford's office! What a small world! So glad to see that you are doing well!