This I Believe
I believe in those moments of truth, when you just know.
Those moments, that seem to happen in a heart beat, have transformed my life, changed my direction, opened me up and let me see the world, and my place in it, differently. Those moments have been a mind, body and heart experience.
For me, these moments seem to be like a perfect storm of past experience, continued thinking and emotional connection all coming together to create a really clear picture of a future different from any I’d imagined before. When it’s happened, upon reflection I can remember amazingly small details of the moment, even many years later.
The first of these moments that I am clear about happened when I was sitting in the conference room of the lab I was working for. I was drinking a cup of Irish Breakfast tea, paging through the Globe. On the outside everything was going great, following the plan. I was 23, a college graduate on a fast track to a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology. I was living in Cambridge, MA., setting up house with a room mate, going out to play on a regular basis, making new friends and planning a life with my long time boyfriend. In my work I was busy planning my first set of experiments that I would use for my first published work as a scientist. This is a time that one might imagine that I’d be energized and content and really driven. Instead I was still seeking. I was quietly discontent. I was secretly dissatisfied with everything. This particular day I was staring off into space, out the large plate glass windows of the Applied Sciences Building on slushy Oxford Street. It was snowing and overcast but instead of seeing the snow and the wind whipped trees, I was seeing myself at five years old sitting before our big console TV in our old den with the orange and brown plaid wall paper and the rust shag rug. In that moment, I was 5 again and mesmerized by the old commercial that went, “ (drums)…Peace Corps; the toughest job you’ll ever love.” I remember seeing again the silhouette of a man throwing a fishing net out over the water, in the sunset. I knew at that moment, in my gut, in my heart and in my head that I was going to step off the path I was on. I knew, as if I’d always known, that I wanted to be of service and that I didn’t want to toil alone in a lab. I knew in my bones that I wanted to explore and tackle undoable, unimaginable things with other people. I didn’t know where the new path would eventually take me but I knew, somehow, that was the direction that I need to walk. Because of this one simple moment, this one picture of truth about myself, I became a teacher, a high school teacher of science, a person interested in cultures other than my own and later a problem solver, collaborator and committed traveler. It stuns me to know how potent that one moment was in the course of my life. That was 14 years ago.
Since then I have had other such moments that have directed my life, that have opened me up, lead to a transformation. I hope that I continue to pay attention to those moments. I believe that these moments of truth have transformed me and given me a life second to none.
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