March 21, 2008

Fresh Start/Broken Ties

Before the appeal today, I had a quiet personal ceremony in the woods on campus. I thanked the place for all the knowledge that I'd gained there over the past 4 years, and I set my intention --to do the very best for the world in the most effective manner. I opened myself to the fresh start that was coming soon. I was excited for the new beginning either way: the opportunity to do well in school, live with Ben up here, and become an awesome vet with an ecological conscience; or the opportunity to begin a new, unknown life.
The appeal seemed more adversarial to me today than the one 3 weeks ago did. It seemed as if people had already made up their minds (and I supposed they already had, as I WAS officially dismissed last month) and were intent upon making any point of mine seem moot. Still, I presented myself with integrity, poise, and every bit of strong intention to continue the program.
As I left, I heard myself making continuous tones and I felt my teeth chatter uncontrollably. Tears ran down my face. I was overwhelmed. It was very intense, but I reminded myself of the joy I was about to experience of knowing what future I would have.
Bless my good friend Jessamyn for taking me in her arms, letting me make my weird siren sound as my teeth chattered, and making me tea and bringing me tasty food to ground me.
Soon after I'd calmed down, I got the call. "Hi, Alyssum? This is Angie Warner. It's not good. The Board is maintaining their vote for your dismissal. I'm sorry."


....*this is where you imagine the sound of whipping wind at night over the desert*....


and so, I am in a strange place in my life, a place, I think, many people never experience. Strange, indeed. Throwing away the 4 paper grocery bags full of syllabi feels cathartic, but wasteful (and I'm not talking about literal waste). Throwing away the JAVMA journals doesn't feel like anything at all, but I nearly started sobbing as I considered throwing away Wool & Wattles (the small ruminant and camelid newsletter...I kept them). Telling my V'08 friends with whom I began vet school that I finished 8 weeks before they graduate ("I finished before you, we didn't expect that, did we?!") was funny, ironic, and depressing. Exploring ideas with my friends of some possibilites for my future felt liberating and uncertain--I could see their envy, but maybe just a tad of gloating deep down too (or maybe those are just my own demons). Thinking about leaving my dance students seems absolutely unreal. Thinking about doing something else seems limitless, boundless, and also a little bit like a white light vacuum where my limbs and body will fracture into a million pieces without the rigid structure of a single goal keeping me together.

I am okay. One thing will happen and then another and I will be okay. I want to enjoy this moment of relief and freedom for as long as I can, but I also want to find something eventually that will feel as worthwhile and meaningful as what I originally set out to do by going to vet school. I am mourning a great part of me that was put to rest today. That's not easy. But I'll be okay.


Elliott said...

Alyssum, your peace and hope through this awful experience are a real inspiration. I just came from a meeting in South Africa attended by a whole range of peeps involved in figuring out the sustainable, ecosystem-level health and development of a new transfrontier conservation area. There were vets, sure, but lots of other cool types too: ecologists, economists, public health experts, wildlife researchers, etc. It reminded me that there are so many other important ways to get involved in this kind of effort other than through veterinary medicine. I know you'll find some incredible ways to contribute, and it will turn out just fine.

Anonymous said...

From your Dad, Alyssum...I've never before posted but today would be the day.

In the end we are measured by how we deal with our failures in life, not by our successes. No amount of political correctness can transform this. It is a failure. It is best to acknowledge that. But it is a failure to meet the expectations of an institution, not a failure of your souls journey. For whatever reason this is the outcome. This is the crucible in which our souls essence is ground, polished, and reflected back to us. You are my grand and wonderful daughter, a spirit with wings that have been fettered but now may unfold. I will watch with great pride and love as you find your way my daughter!



Anonymous said...

Alyssum, I love you so dearly. You have an absolutely magnificent soul, an unbreakable spirit, and a dance in your heart. I know that your next adventure will be less painful and far more inspired than the drudgery of the past few years. You have always struck me as the kind of woman who was born to carve out her own path. Despite this switchback in the journey, I know you have the power, the endurance, to keep pushing forward, blazing an entirely new trail. I hope you will let me know where that path summits.

Debbie said...

My Dearest Alyssum,
I couldn't be more discouraged that Tufts just doesn't see the same wonderful and limitless person the rest of us see. You are truly a gift to the world (I know it's corny, but I really do think its true). Whatever you decide to do, those you work with will be so fortunate to have you by their side. Sadly have pretty much devalued my education and a degree from Tufts based on their standards of a good veterinarian at this point. I'm sorry we couldn't do more for you, but I know you are phoenix that has risen before and can and will most definitely rise again.

If there is anything EVER that you need, please let me be one of the first you call. :)

Please keep me updated on what you do - I certainly don't want to lose contact wherever you may be.


Anonymous said...

Alyssum, I am so so so sorry that you've had to walk such a painful journey and I am so so so glad that you do have people you recognize you for the truly special, strong, wise, kind person you are. Your grace through all this is absolutely stunning. I feel 100% confident that your willingness to let your destiny bring you (however painfully) to a new, more perfect path for yourself will bring you to total peace and joy in your professional life and that this will happen soon. There's apparently someplace else you're supposed to be right now. People like you with lots of Light in them have important things to do! I can't wait to hear where you get sent for your next mission.

If there is anything at all I can do for you, please, please let me know. I will miss you very much over the next 14 months, but I trust and hope we will keep in touch.

I'd wish you best of luck, but honestly--you don't need any. Even when life has thrown you a LOT of "bad luck" you have come out of it looking at the future with strength, poise, grace and dignity (which is more than most people can muster even with the best luck in the world). No, what you need is the open road and the inner confidence that you ARE truly an amazing woman who is ready willing and able to make a huge impact in this world. So I wish you that--that you will never forget and never be dissuaded from the truth of who you are.


Anonymous said...

Alyssum, I'm sorry to hear of your dismissal and moving away to KY. I regret that I never got to tell you in person how inspiring I find you to be. I admire your ability to always be true to yourself and others, and I think you are going to do remarkable things in the conservation field. I hope we can work together in the future!