Vedanta’s 2 Symptoms of Enlightenment: Calmness and Coincidences

I’ve never woken up before the sunrise on a regular basis during the summer, and I was surprised to find out that even the sun struggles to wipe the sleep and stars out of it’s eyes. The moody clouds slip away as the caffeine starts to thud in our veins with it’s normal rhythm, the thump-thump of my heartbeat marking pace for the sweet serenade of the mourning doves

Mourning doves are truly the only real “morning people.”

I am not.  In fact, I wanted to be nothing like those birds.  I will mourn nothing this summer, I told myself, because I am going to grow and make money and learn to become a real adult. What I didn’t realize is that becoming an adult is ultimately a process of mourning.  The early 20s are so hard because you are mourning the loss of your childhood innocence, the loss of your dependence on your family, the loss of the happiness that used to tinge your rose-colored glasses.  Becoming an adult is actually a very sad thing – now you know why children think adults never smile.

I promised myself that I would learn to like myself even if I didn’t like the circumstances in which I found myself.  I would try and figure out how to live at peace when all of my choices left me mangled inside and wondering how my life was supposed to be a masterpiece when the broken pieces kept slipping through my fingers.

That’s the thing about life. It’s a mosaic.  All the shattered glass, all the accidents that cause the vase to fall off the table, all the scratches and the grooves, the mismatching colors and tiles that don’t fit together quite right – that’s what my life is made of. It’s a glorious mess that sometimes cuts my fingers if I try to manipulate it too much.

I’m grateful for it.  I wasn’t always that way, but I’m learning.

I’m learning to let go.  My plan for my life is nothing compared to the plan that God has for me.  Sometimes it’s nice to remember that He hold the world and therefore, he can handle this moment in my life.

I’m learning to be grateful.  I’m learning to appreciate the little things, like brown sugar in my oatmeal (it’s gross without it – like eating flavorless vomit) and coffee that doesn’t come from a packet.  And I may spending 3 hours commuting to-and-from work, but at least I have a lot of time to listen to the radio.

I’m learning to find peace. Did you know you can pray with your eyes open?  And you don’t have to say the words out loud?  AND you can pray for things that happen in the moment, or will happen in a few minutes or months or years?  Seems like a common sense thing, but I’m just starting to figure it out.

It’s quite enlightening.  I’m peeling back the layers to find a more refined person in my skin than I thought existed.  She’s calmer than I am.  She remembers to breathe when she’s walking down the hallway. I even think she has less muscle knots than I do…

I’m not in school right now, but it’s amazing how much I’m learning.

 

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The story of man runs in a dreary circle.

It was 2013 and I was sweating nervously thinking about the amount of perspiration that I would shed during the many hours that I would invest to play soccer at my college – as if the schoolwork enough wasn’t intimidating enough.

It was 2014 and I was moaning at the thought of going to nanny for 4 boys all summer and not getting paid nearly enough to run around and chase “noise with dirt on it” for eight hours.

It was 2015 and I could feel the half-eaten oatmeal churning in my stomach thinking about returning to my internship at SBMF and having just another one of many crappy days as I extracted protein from stool samples.

It’s 2016 and now I’m dreading driving my hour commute tomorrow to arrive at my official first job where I begin to learn how to detest corporate America and the healthcare regulations.

Year after year after year and I realize that history repeats itself every summer. Somehow, all I want to do is take a breath and be satisfied with where I am in life. Maybe that’s why the 20s are so hard.

Truly no matter how close you are currently to where you want to be for the rest of your life, and no matter how your fingers itch for the next step, and no matter how little space remains between this time and the next – satisfaction and happiness are dangerously illusive.

You’d think I would’ve learned by now.

But I haven’t.

In fact, I’m stuck in the same place I was before, wondering how I’m going to get through this summer just like the others.

I’m thankful for/to:
1) have a job in the first place
2) to be able to live at home with wonderful people that I don’t get to see nearly as much as I wish I could during the rest of the year
3) to have a best friend who can encourage me and wipe the tears away and remain close despite the miles between us.

I’m trying something that I didn’t do before. The goal is to wake up early, appreciate my time, actually eat breakfast, pray for peace and rest for my weary soul, and remember the things that I should be, and am, grateful for. If history repeats itself and I haven’t found a way that works in the past, maybe I should try something new.

Switch my mindset.

Alter my own reality.

Find a new identity.

But maybe, if history truly repeats itself, then maybe I’m not becoming a new person at all. Maybe I’m finding the person that I was before, who resurfaces whenever I need her to.

We say we want to disappear when we really just want to be found.

I was cleaning out my purse.

It was a normal occurrence.  As a college student, it’s easy to get bogged down with the Target tags ripped hastily off over-sized sweaters that resulted from the impulse buy after the last failed test, the Starbucks receipts that demonstrated just how deep the self-medicating went, and the used tissues that proved your immune system was in the toilet from lack of sleep and the anxiety that gnawed at your temples.

Amid the scraps of white, there was a mint green envelope.

I opened it, a wish for an unused gift card burning in my greedy eyes as I slipped the card out.

I couldn’t have done this without you!”

Your future shines brightly and I can’t wait to see what you do!

You are the only reason I passed this class.  An absolute God-send.”

Amidst the gentle loops of the mom’s handwriting that spread significant surface area of the card were small pockets of neat notes written by students who had clearly learned how to write notes efficiently.  Even the word choice indicated that they had cleverly picked words that needed few details.

You’re the best tutor ever!”

“Thanks for all your time spent teaching us!”

You are a great friend and an even better tutor!”

Nursing students are always the most encouraging because they know what it’s like to never receive themselves.

I don’t do what I do for the money — part-time wages aren’t nearly enough for the services that tutors provide.  I also don’t do what I do for the credit — the grades are entered under the student’s name, not my own.  I don’t do what I do for the pure enjoyment of it — sometimes you just have to smile and explain to that jerk for the fifth time that you didn’t design the calculator and you don’t know why the parentheses buttons are where they are.

Sometimes I can convince myself that I enjoy helping people and I enjoy my job.  But sometimes, and this is one of those days, I have no idea.

That’s the thing about nursing students. Most of them still enjoy what they do.  As a tutor, the last thing I should become is apathetic.

And yet, here I am.

I put the card back in the envelope and put the envelope back in my purse.

I don’t feel real unless someone is watching.

He was a writer.

“Are you happy?”

I tossed my curled tresses over my shoulder as my mouth curved with forced laughter, the red lipstick blazing a crimson streak across my pale, exhausted face. Winter’s breath tapped on my neck before I answered quickly, took a sip of coffee and excused myself to rush to my next class.

He was a writer and he knew.

He was a published writer, actually (you’d be surprised how important the clarification is). His wife works for a fashion designer in New York City and it was clear based on his cuffed grey-wash jeans, the striped socks and the black anorak jacket that they got along just fine and compromised often.

He was happy. But he was a writer and he knew what diction was.

I listened to him speak and I was reminded of the seductive power of words. 20 minutes later and I was blinking ferociously to keep his syntax from enticing me away from my textbooks and my lab goggles, from the hours of studying and self-loathing in the library, from the periodic table plastered on every surface I could find. The sound waves spun in my cochlea and I distracted myself from the interpretations of the frequencies by mindlessly listing off the anatomy of the ear.

He was a writer. He knew what diction was and he knew better than to ask a person with my eyes whether or not they were happy.

My answer was as bitter as the coffee that followed and swallowed out the retort that did not come quickly enough. Was I, the analyst of scientific articles, the cleaner of lab tables and fume hoods, the dissector of cadavers, happy?

The wind that ran his icy fingers over my neck poked me in the eye and I felt hot tears prick. How rude.

“Of course.”

He was a writer.

He knew.

Independence is magic because it doesn’t actually exist.

I learned today that no matter how hard I may try to be a self-reliant, self-supporting student who searches for internships, I will forever be dependent on the professors who give me the grade to actually demonstrate that I’ve earned it.

Yes, you read that right. I, the lowly student who bangs her head against the books in order for the knowledge to sink in, must still depend on the professor for giving me the letter that indicates how well I have done. And that single letter, that one dot of ink on the page clearly indicates how many textbook pages I’ve read and how many hours I’ve spent jotting note after note on a page. Even after months of slavery to this institution that they call education, I’m still indebted to them.

Only this time, it’s for a letter of a different kind.

Those dastardly letters of recommendation.

I have worried sick about the possibility of those letters getting lost in the mail (I’m glaring at you, U.S. Postal System) and I’ve gnawed my poor fingernails down to the bone over whether or not my countless hours have actually made an impression. I’ve nagged via email until I sound like an unhappy wife.

And yes, it wouldn’t have made any difference. Today I am free. I am free of the deadline of applications. I am free of the possibility that the internet would fail me and refuse to upload my resume and CV. I am free of the burden of asking people with authority to respectfully recommend me to other people.

Only to replace it the ball and chain of waiting for responses from the schools I applied to. I spent all my time worrying if other people would be able to finish my applications for me by writing letters and now I get to depend on the other side of the equation to actually answer me back.

This is why students take so long to learn independence. Because with the title of student comes the inevitable responsibility to depend on others.

It’s like the longing in the whistle of a faraway train. Except that the longing is in you.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, I want to take advantage of everything that life has to offer. I want to go out this summer and go something exciting, to write a second book, to get a job as a barista at Starbucks because it sounds like a fun new experience, to work in a research lab because I would love to learn more about science, to do something that I can look back and think “yes, that was a summer that impacted me.”

On the other hand, I’m bored with going through the motions. I’m just flipping through the pages so that I can take the test, just breathing in and out so I can keep trudging on the same sidewalks, just waking up early to get the stuff done and then collapse when I get home.

I can’t decide if I’m restless or just plain bored.

Maybe I’m overthinking things because I’m halfway done with my college career and I’m halfway done with finals week. Maybe the coffee I drank this morning was accidently decaf. Maybe my brain has turned to mush from memorizing all these concepts.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I want to start running early in the morning – maybe early enough that I can see the sunrise and chase it across the bridge over the water. That explains the restless sensation.

I also want a change of scenery. I want to go out and do things. I want to shop at an open-air market and cook a new recipe. I want to read a new book that actually interests me. I want to explore something. Maybe this summer, I’ll make it a goal to meet one new person per week. Or maybe not because I’m introverted and have the tendency to be a bit shy. Either way, that explains the bored feeling.

Call it wanderlust. Call it boredom. Call it whatever you wish. I don’t have the words to explain it, but perhaps my silence on the matter will communicate it more clearly than all these words on the page. I have half a mind to delete this whole post because it’s not saying anything remotely important.

But I won’t.

Because I’m saying something and maybe that the important part.

Most people don’t grow up but all people age.

When I was five, I looked at college students and thought they were old. They were burdened with the task of gathering as much information about the world as they could.

They were different than adults in that way. The adults had gathered the information as college students, sifted through it to discover what they wanted to focus on, and then had thrown the rest away. But college students — no, they knew it all and hadn’t picked through the facts yet. They stuffed those pieces of information in their brain and let them ferment until something sprouted from their fertile mind.

Now that I’m a college student, I see it slightly differently. I miss the naivety of childhood. I know more than I ever have before and I have more questions than ever.

Did you know that I probably have six cancerous sites in my body at this moment? And did you also know that my body is in the process of killing them all off? Some cells in my body are literally committing suicide by blowing themselves up. I’m made up of a million little terrorists.

I have the knowledge to make poisons and antidotes, to create free radicals and carcinogens, to create the puzzle pieces that make a person. I can take the chemical responsible for the cinnamon smell and transform it into the chemical that is responsible for the smell of oranges.

All that and I still struggle with balancing my checkbook.

I’m halfway through college. This moment is the oldest I have ever been and the youngest I will ever be again. I’m aging the whole time but I’m not sure if there will ever come a point when I fully grow up.

I like picking wildflowers, making flower crowns, and then wearing that Nature’s tiara. I like reading nerdy books about the periodic table and articles about fruit fly sperm (let me explain: I recently have been accepted to perform genetic research on fruit flies and a segregation distorter gene in fruit fly sperm. In layman’s terms, I will be tracking this gene and how it impacts the creation of proteins in a mutated location in the nucleus.) I like blogging and watching Netflix. I like dancing in the rain and splashing in puddles. I like applying red lipstick just so it leaves a cool looking stain on my coffee cup. I like talking in random accents, and one day I want to convince a stranger that I’m from a different country.

If these things make me old, then I gladly accept that title. If these things make me a grown up, I don’t believe you for a second.

P.S I got the highest grade in the class on my organic chemistry and I want to brag to someone.