Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Take a breath

I haven't written in quite some time because nothing happened worth writing about. I'm still sick, up and down, though the days are getting better than they were. I did get some great news today, though. I have finally been approved for the hospital's medical assistance program because I'm a student, so I'll hopefully be seeing a doctor very, very soon. I've forgotten what it's like to be normal. I look back at old photographs of myself (taken not that long ago actually) and it's hard to imagine I was ever well enough to do the things I once did. If nothing else, this entire experience has taught me to love and appreciate life. I'm not just saying that. It's really true. I have never been so thankful for each and every breath in my lungs.

My eating disorder has taken a bit of a back-burner lately, which is a good thing. I've been too busy worried about other things to think too much about food. I just learned my uncle has cancer in basically his entire body. Me feeling dizzy and sick and sad about how I look has never felt more insignificant. I know I've gained some weight these last couple of weeks because I've been too sick to exercise. But so what? I'm still alive. That's what really matters.

I have been reading a lot of Tolstoy lately. I'm a sucker for Russian literature. (Okay, all literature, actually), but Tolstoy in particular. I find his life as interesting as his work. He was a vegetarian/vegan! Who knew? He gave up eating meat in the 1890s, and in 1894 admitted his health had improved since giving up meat, eggs, and dairy. He also advocated animal rights, though maybe that term would have seemed strange back then. He believed in showing compassion to animals and treating them humanely. He advocated using machines to take the place of animal labor. He even thought it was better to go on foot than to ride a horse. Very interesting. He says:

"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite."

I was an English Literature major when I was an undergrad and I'm graduating with an MFA in Creative Writing in two months. As an undergrad, Victorian Literature was my least favorite. But now it's all I read. Isn't it strange how those things happen? I've been seriously considering pursuing my PhD after I'm done with my MFA. I know it seems silly because an MFA is a terminal degree and I'll still be able to teach college classes with an MFA. But I want to continue to learn. I also worry that going for a PhD would take away from my creative endeavors. Ultimately I want to write the books that people analyze instead of being the person who analyzes other books. But I also feel like the best way to deepen my own writing is by reading. I'm not sure what I want to do, but it's a definite possibility. Who knows?

My goal is to stop worrying.

I worry about everything. I always have, ever since I was a child. I've finally realized that worrying changes nothing. It's impossible to plan too much. You can't see too far into the future to make out the shapes of things.

I'm going to learn to relax and let everything fall in place. My battle with my eating disorder has taught me that it's impossible to be in control of everything. Some things are larger than I am. No, many things are larger than I am. Many things are out of my hands. And that's okay.

I'm learning to relax.


  1. Tolstoy is also a favorite, but I love Dostoevsky even more! Michael Hoffman directed a beautiful and sad movie (The Last Station, if I recall) about the end of Tolstoy's life. He was a man in conflict with himself and the world yet found threads of peace within the whole.

    I earned an MA in English, but for health (and other) reasons was unable to pursue PhD. Much later I earned a BSN and RN. I want to understand EDs better. It hurts to see people half living, in pain, without the help that might save them. Sometimes it is hard to "let everything fall into place" but it tends to do that very thing, yes?, whether I make it hard or not.

    Your blog has been a blessing.


  2. I have an M.F.A. in poetry & considered PhD programs, then changed my mind for precisely the same reason you mentioned: I want to write the things other people analyze and write about. Academia needs more independent scholars who continue to learn either while teaching or in between a degree and teaching. I have been working an entry-level job for several years just to find out what people are like outside the privileged world I was cloistered in for so many academic years, and am now applying for writing fellowships. I love your blog & am amazed by your honesty and clarity.