Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What I learned (And I'm not April foolin)

I already knew the obvious stuff. Trina Joy is the apple of my eye, the joy of my life, my best friend, partner, lover, buddy, sidekick and processing outlet. She is selfless, cute as a button, beautiful, brilliant, full of life and fire and love and passion, and I love everything about her. Faults too. I knew all that. I’m not one of those people who forgets about the fact that he’s the luckiest guy in the world. I think about it almost every day. Sometimes my heart hurts with love. Really—I’m not exaggerating.

But, but, but…there’s a difference. My priorities are a bit out of whack. I’ve been way stressed about the school thing. Yeah I got in to Harvard, but I cannot go there if Boston doesn’t work out for Trina…why again was I worrying about that? Why was I caught up in all the celebrity and prestige associated with it? What really matters anyway? What is the place of travel, work, family, God, friends and all that in my life?

I don’t think my life is too screwed up, or that I don’t generally live with intention. But the life of my mind needed a butt-kicking, and it got one. I’m so sorry that the suffering of my dear Trina was the means, but it sure did work.

I tried really hard not to bargain with God that night. I think that’s really dumb. But somewhere in the middle of it all, between songs and tears and prayers, I remembered the age old lesson: don’t sweat the small stuff. And yes, the school I go to can shape the rest of my life—probably mostly in terms of material and prestige and yes, that is small stuff! That’s the part I kept forgetting, what constitutes the small stuff.

I came to Calcutta to get some perspective by helping those who desperately needed it. I didn’t expect that would involve helping my wife. My time at the Home for the Dying was fruitful and it engendered a great deal of compassion. But it was in my own sickness, and in my own deadly fear of my wife’s sickness, that I found what I believe I came here looking for. Perspective, yes. A bit of solidarity with the suffering of the poor (but I had better care) and their fear of losing a loved one to something as insignificant as food borne bacteria.

By the way, for those of you who are curious, Trina’s diagnosis was Escherichia coli. (E. coli). Yikes and yuk. She was sick four times during her time in India (stomach, head, vomit/stomach, E. coli). (I was only sick three times—all stomach, one high fever). Of 22 days in Kolkata, we were sick for 20.

There is much more to learn and much more to say, but this will have to suffice for now. The rest will be in the book!

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