Sometimes we are given a chance to do something extraordinary. But sometimes, this opportunity to do something truly extraordinary places us in situations we have been culturally taught to avoid because they might lead to our own peril.
I dove head on into an opportunity like this about 10 months ago.
I have worked my entire life by necessity and when possible out of a sense of love and even righteousness (I mostly work with non-profit organizations who I like), but 10 months ago I decided to take a half-year sabbatical from working and essentially pay myself from my savings to complete a stage of work on a math problem I have been obsessed by for 5 years and counting.
I know it sounds decadent. The decision has ended up changing my life, and not in the ways you might imagine. In terms of worldly acknowledgement of the accomplishment, I have had little to none. Like peeing in a wet suit, I’m the only one who has been basking in the warmth of the accomplishment.
And it was an accomplishment. 6000 lines of code that came directly from my head. I always say that Owen Barton could have done it in 4000, but that is just because he has mastered regular expressions in a way that is condomless. If I don’t use a condom with regular expressions, I get torn up.
I digress. I was basking in the warmth, dear reader. And what a warmth it was. I went on a novel mathematical pilgrimage of alchemical proportions and was met at the gates by pi and phi. In the process I created a toy that, given enough bandwidth, will compute the harmonic scale resonance in a shifting numerical matrix made using (an infinite set of) numerical pairs.
Which says very little, I know, and I apologize.
The work can speak for itself (http://www.jellobrain.com/jellomatrix/13/20 – by way of example) but this blog is not about math. It’s about the inherent splendid danger of following your dreams.
A subject which is current in my head at the eve of my third surgery in 4 months: this one being the only one I was expecting.
Things you might not know about me are that I have been shitting out of a nub-like stump located on my abdomen and into a plastic bag contraption that is glued on my body for the last 3 ½ months.
At this point, the more realistic and perceptive among you might be putting this and that together, and are realizing that I dove straight into surgeries after 6 months of unemployment and most likely without health insurance.
To those readers I say hooray to your perceptiveness, and thank you for asking. In fact, that is in large part what this blog aims to address, my dear, astute reader, hopefully with a touch of eloquence to help make the boring parts stick well to the unboring parts.
But in truth, getting your intestines cut out of you in someone’s converted bedroom house-clinic in Mexico is less about eloquence, and more about just getting through it. I am writing this now to help me in my experience when it happens again.
The main point is that when I was a little girl, I can’t count the number of times I heard either one or another or both of my parents simultaneously reminding me that I am working class, and that it is irresponsible to leave a well paying job with health insurance to follow ones dreams because of the danger that something dreadful might happen to your health.
Which is not a blame your parents moment in any way, shape or form. I got nothing but gratitude and love for my family. But just to say that cultural programming is real.
Although I take full responsibility for keeping those thoughts alive in my own reality, I do think these thought programs predisposed me for the very occurrences I have been experiencing.
Which are various, and many of which started out as these tiny pains that I just kept getting used to, and some of which were a bit larger. But when you are used to pain, more pain is like, “Okay, maybe I should not have eaten that.” I did not know when to make a fuss, and the fuss I was making did not initially find results.
Over the last 7 years, I have tried dietary changes, herbs, bitters, hydrochloric acid, accidophillus, sour kraut, tinctures, oils, endoscopies, more dietary changes, ultra sounds, colonoscopy, ayahuasca, magnetic scans (in the wrong area because pain apparently travels) labs, the American health care system, the Mexican health care system, labs, more diet changes, more labs, antibiotics, magnetic therapy, more antibiotics, naturopathic, dietary changes, homeopathic, shamanic.
The verdict was always Salmonella in the medical establishments and labs. Then it was colitis and salmonella and amoebas.
And then they opened me up. Once the dust settled enough to at least see in front of me. I came to the realization that my appendix burst when I was in Puerto Escondido 2.5 years ago. In addition, at some point in my life, probably years ago before I was vegan, I picked up Brucellosis. At last count, at the point of surgery, I was simultaneously suffering from:
- Endometriosis severe enough to loose half of my colon in the surgery,
- An enormous Tumor where my appendix was (thankfully benign),
- Peritonitis (which I think I had on and off since the initial bursting 2.5 years ago),
- Salmonella Typhus,
- and a UTI.
Two turn tables and a microphone.
Of course I was allergic to the threads used in the surgery, and my large wound split open on day 7, 8 hours before an 8.1 earthquake, but that is a different blog.
The trick is knowing you’re on fire. I know that now.
I am thankful for the strength and support I have received from the Hologram and my family generally getting through this, and that I am still alive. There must be a reason I am still here, because otherwise and by any estimation, I could have died at any point in the last 2.5 years from the peritonitis alone.
But again, I digress. I was talking about my dreams.
That my pursuit of dreams is mathematical in nature is a slight of hand on my part, I know, dear reader, and I apologize. Most leavings to pursue dreams are in fields that are considered irresponsible and unscientific like art or music or the circus arts. For me to want to pursue my dreams of mathematics irresponsibly will place many readers in a sort of philosophical headlock mental devise from which they will not escape. I imagine if they have not already, they will soon put this down, and continue folding their laundry. To those readers, I say, ‘fold on, Garth.’
To the dear readers who are still with me, I assure you that my leaving for the dream of math was both irresponsible and unscientific.
- Being that I am thousands of miles and a country away from my aging parents who live in my hometown still and who no longer travel together.
- Being that I have left the protective sheath of health insurance while venturing in a foreign microbiome where the only public local hospital has one patient bathroom per wing, and that bathroom has no running water, a maze of urine and shit on the floor and seat of the toilet, and an emergency room bouncer with a pole up her ass.
Which I know now first-hand.
- Being that although I accomplished many of my goals for the work, most of my time was spent in pain, or in less pain but wondering if the pain was going to come again, or just plain dicking around in a completely unscientific manner.
- Being that now, although I am grateful for my new job, I am forced to work more aggressively in between surgeries than I was otherwise hoping in order to afford the decadent plastic bags with glue on them that have been stuck to my body for 3 ½ months, and the gentleman-surgeon who I am paying to cut me up in a converted bedroom in Mexico, and in order that my new employers not feel completely devastated by their decision to hire me, given the state of health that I am apparently in.
I basically ran straight on into the very predicament that my parents have spent my whole life warning me to never get into.
What I want to say about that is that even though the health nightmare that my parents always warned me about happened to me at the exact moment that my irresponsible and unscientific decision placed me in the most vulnerable position possible, I do not regret my irresponsible, unscientific decision, not even a little and not even for a second.
But there is also something hidden, and profound that I am recognizing. That these very tragedies and difficulties that we face in the dogged determination to follow our creativity, are the very obstacles we need in order to realize that not only can we do this, we can, in fact, do anything. Again, the trick is knowing you are on fire. That we are oxidizing. That time is ticking in the three-D. Scatamoosh, is my point. If you have a song, the time to sing it is now.
And I have a song.
My third and final surgery, Hologram willing, is on Tuesday. It’s another big one.
If you have a chance to wish me well on the ethereal plane, I would be thankful for the vibes.