OUR class president, Jonas Bico, for whom I have the highest respect, told us that he has been having difficulty sleeping these past few days. He thinks a lot about the upcoming Boards, a preoccupation many of us share, an incessant personal battle waged with feelings of dread and worry and hope. He sleeps in the wee hours of the morning, only to find himself waking up again to a day closer to August 23. Our diagnosis: PTSD.
THE SIGHT of my classmate Al sitting in a zen-like state at the Student Lounge the entire day reminds me of how many of us are creatures of habit. We may hate routine, but there is a sense in which all of us have been programmed to follow a certain order of things. We have the suprachiasmatic nucleus in our brain, the part that dictates our body clock. We have habits we can't do away with easily, like coffee. Some can't move on with their lives without taking a dump first. We are, indeed, funny creatures of habit—a fascinating fact given that we often complain of the drudgery of our existence.
I AM, in a sense, back to the old grind. I have exhausted my tolerance for coffee shops, my room, the kitchen, or my favorite Dunkin Donuts store that serves excellent coffee. I will probably miss the cold airconditioning or the funny waiters who already know my name or what I will order. But there is a comfort in being with like-minded friends opening similar books or discussing similar problems or sharing similar mnemonics (the weirder, the better). The Boards is just a few days away. I will find myself huddled in a quiet corner at the Med Library today, surrounded by journals and books written when I wasn't around yet—or better yet, by friends who, like me, have tons of materials waiting to be read and highlighted. The day is long. May God be our strength.
THE LAST story in Jhumpa Lahiri's collection, Interpreter of Maladies, is “The Third and Final Continent.” It's a befitting conclusion to an eloquent and honest piece of literary work, something that earned Lahiri the Pulitzer Prize, among other awards.
A man from India sails to London in 1964. He eventually decides to move to America after he scores a job in the processing department of an MIT library. At 36 years old (not a bad age), he gets married to someone named Mila, whom he hardly knows (not so bad, either). As with many marriages in India, theirs was arranged. Mila is still in India. She will be stepping on American soil in a few weeks.
I READ Psalm 5 this morning. The first verse goes, “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning.” I haven't been groaning exactly, but I've had my moments of doubt and anxiety, not just about my upcoming exams, but about what I'd do with my life. I've come up with a plan, of course, something I've shared with close family and friends. But what if my plans don't materialize? What then? I've realized that my anxieties are borne out of my forgetting that God's hand isn't too short, that He is in control, that He is powerful, that He is deeply involved in the personal affairs of His children. Anxiety exposes so much of how I distrust Him. Jesus cautions his disciples in Matthew 5, “Do not worry.” In a sense He is saying, “There's no point in worrying too much because I am in control.”
THE SHORT story being my favorite literary form, I picked Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies just a few weeks before my licensure exams. As a reader I've realized these past years that, yes, the best stories for me are those that resonate with my personal experiences.