For reasons unbeknownst to yours truly, my appetite has vanished. Literally and figuratively. As far as food goes, all I seem to be desiring lately is coffee (and lots of it), tea, hot apple cider (with chai), soup, and occasionally a Twizzler- or many Twizzlers. (Twizzlers: My go-to stress-freeing ‘food’, as well as the choice of several of my dearest friends.) And while usually tempting, that bowl of guacamole at our table on New Year’s Eve didn’t even appeal (much) to me. Psychoanalysis welcomed. Any relevance here? Stress-related?
Seriously, what gives? Where did my appetite for food disappear to? And more importantly, where has my appetite for life gone?
This morning on my way to the train I found myself lost in thought while waiting to cross at the infamous (and typically frantic) Clark/Broadway/Diversey intersection. Instead of being surrounded by misguided tourists with shopping bags; cell phone- holding parents balancing babies, dogs, and coffee cups; dancing, paper-selling homeless men; and, every now and then, the crazy “Preacher”… the only thing I witnessed was the bitter Chicago winter air stinging my skin. Other than that, I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing. I thought, How can I be here in this huge city, surrounded by inspiration- muses and crazies…lots of crazies- and not be moved by any of it?
The light changed…and so did my mood. Walking through the streets, I stumbled upon a memory from last night. My empty self was soon full as I recalled the words that were spoken to me. Spoken by a stranger. Someone who didn’t know me. But someone who saw something in me. Someone who believed in me.
“You would make a fantastic nurse.”
He spoke so softly with a kind voice. Like a message from God. He didn’t know me. And for all I know, that was the first time he’d ever seen me. The first time he ever saw me interact with a patient during my volunteer shift. But I saw him come into the room to empty my 2-year old patient’s trash. I didn’t hear him say anything in the room. I doubt he said a word. But he heard me. He heard me talking to my little boy. Playfully flirting with him to get this sick little boy to crack a smile or, preferably, stick his tiny tongue out at my silliness.
But this stranger, My Messenger from God, did not have to say anything. But he did. I’m so glad he did. He could have continued with his work as I washed my hands on the other side of the room. He could have walked right past me and said nothing. But he chose to do more. He made the choice to say these kind words to me. Words that filled my heart. Words that I’ll never forget as they reminded me what my appetite for life is. Simple words that are more meaningful to me than (other) words could explain.
Although I thought about it, I decided to forgo mentioning my desire to become a Child Life Specialist after, what I hoped to be, a very sincere “Thank You” filled with gratitude. I thought about it, but chose to enjoy this moment of contentment and understanding instead. After all, sometimes Silence is the best response one can give.
If I had to choose one word to describe me/my life, like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Attraversiamo from Eat Pray Love, mine would probably have to be one of two words: Journey. (for obvious reasons) or Patience. As my mom’s email read today, “Good things come to those who wait.” Whether or not my tired mind believes that statement right now, it is the truth. Or at least something that we must believe to be true. Patience is definitely a weakness of mine, but life has certainly tested my patience many, many times. And while I’m still far from claiming my Pro jersey, I’ll say that if you truly want something…really want something…then you have no choice but to be patient. I won’t lie and tell you that it’s easy. Because it’s not. And I’ll be honest and admit that there will be days when you want to give up. I’ve had my fair share of those and plan on seeing some more in my future. However, no matter what obstacle may be thrown in your way, when you truly believe in something then you’ll let nothing come between you and your object of desire (goal). You will always find a way to get around it.
If you want me to be honest & blunt right now, I will. I will tell you that these past 2.5 years (which adds up to all of my days as a Chicago resident) have been a struggle. The reason I moved here, my leap of faith, immediately proved to be a disappointment. It was nothing that I thought it was going to be and everything that isn’t me. I’ve struggled to get up in the morning and drag myself for the 1-1.5 hour morning commute, and, while I hate to admit it, I tend to feel “empty” for at least 8 hours a day. While it’s everything I”m not and nothing of what I want, I continue to do it. Why? Because I have to…until I don’t have to anymore.
Please don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t…anymore. I won’t lie, that whole first year, maybe even 1.5 years, was dreadful. But discovering my passion- what fills my empty soul- things have gotten much better. I know what I’m good at; what makes me “me”; where I belong; and what I love to do. Finally figuring that out is why I forbid you to feel sorry for me.
Sure, I’m not there yet. I’m not completely full yet. And truthfully, I may never be. But I’m being patient, and more importantly, I’m not giving up. Because once you find what fills you, what makes you feel alive, then you just have to put all hands on deck and go for it. Never give up. Don’t you ever give up.