Monday, January 4, 2010

Letting Go and Finding Freedom

A few weeks ago, I found out that I would not be attending medical school next fall. And while this didn't come as much of a surprise, since few out-of-state applicants are accepted at the school to which I'd applied and I was only able to apply to one school due to our impending move with the military, it still threw me for a bit of a loop. Anyone who knows me know that I'm a planner. I plan everything. I make schedules, I plan training routines, I plan our family menus, I've even mapped out what I expect out of my life in the next five to ten years (to include several alternate plans should the first few not work out as I'd planned). To spend a day inside my head is to contemplate all the potential realities for the future and all the alternate realities for the present dependent upon past decisions that I could have made differently. It's quite complex and, frankly, quite exhausting. And I'm coming to realize how completely pointless it all is.

You see, although I'd thought a lot about what I would do if I didn't get into medical school this year, I never actually expected that it would turn out that way. I have two Bachelor of Science degrees (one in Microbiology, one in Biochemistry, and both with honors), a Master of Microbiology degree, and fairly competitive test scores and grade point averages. I've spent a lot of time working one-on-one with hospitalized patients through a research study I've been part of, and I had amazing letters of recommendation. If I had applied to any of the schools in my home state, I am 99% sure I would have gotten into at least two of them and possibly all four. So I expected that I would also be able to get into a school in another state. In the very least, I thought I could squeeze my way into an interview where I could wow my interviewers with my charm, professionalism, and eloquence (and humility!). But I didn't. So.... now what do I do?

I could reapply for the following year, and I probably will because all the work has been done. All I have to do is resubmit some paperwork and pay another application fee (is this some kind of scam?). But after all that I've worked for, and after taking a year off to rejuvenate my poor burnt out brain (from the two and a half to three hours a day I spent commuting), is this still what I want for my life? Things are so complicated now. We were expecting to adopt a baby girl last October, but that didn't happen. I was expecting to start medical school in the fall, but that isn't going to happen either. So if nothing I had planned is going to come to fruition, then am I trying to take myself down the wrong road?

Something I learned in 2009 as we were going through the anxiety of a domestic infant adoption and then the anguish of an adoption disrupted, is that God has His own plans for us that pretty much trump anything we may try to plan for ourselves. At first, this can be very frustrating for people like myself who are suffering from loss and don't know where to turn. It feels unfair and it's easy to get angry with God for letting these things happen. But the beautiful thing about trusting in God's plan is knowing that everything has already been figured out. I don't have to scramble around in a panic trying to decide what to do next, because God has already decided for me. I don't have to worry about how long we'll wait before we are able to attempt another adoption or about what I'm going to do if I never get into medical school. God has already sorted all of that out. I just don't have the capacity to see it yet. And to be quite honest, putting that trust in Him is a relief that cannot be matched. It feels like a burden has been physically lifted from my shoulders because the tension from all that worry just drains away....

Now I'm not going to sit here and pretend like I never worry about anything ever, because that would be a lie. Intellectually I know that God is taking care of things, and that I just need to get out of the way. But that doesn't stop me from fretting about it anyway. There are days, few and far between, that I will feel a panic start to creep over me from no where. My heart will race and my eyes will well up with emotion because I just feel so helpless to get anything right. But it passes. To break the tension, I'll even joke "Get thee back Satan! I do not want to feel like shit today, so don't even try it! You thought you could be sneaky and use my fears against me, but I know what you're up to and I say NO!" And in response my husband will look at me like I've totally lost it (and maybe I have) and that always makes me laugh a little.

But what should we do when the worries of the world are too persistent to be banished from our minds so easily? What do we do when there's no escape from the demands of the outside world, especially in these dire economic and political times? Find a quiet space for yoga. During my practice this morning, I set my intention to be fully conscious of my practice and the present moment. I didn't want to think about the past year and I didn't want to think about the uncertainty of the new year. So I didn't. I focused on the movement of my breath. I focused on the way my body felt as I moved from one pose to the next. I felt the places of tension and I moved to release them. Linking my breath with my movements as I flowed from one posture to the next, I felt myself moving into a place of perfect bliss. Nothing mattered. Not that I didn't care, it just didn't matter. And for that hour, I was totally free. It was beautiful and I can't wait to get there again tomorrow.

**For a GREAT twelve minute guided meditation on living in the present moment, download the The Chopra Center for Wellbeing podcasts free on iTunes.  Look for "Live in the Now Meditation December 2009." I think you'll enjoy it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.