As I come to my 25th birthday I find myself reflecting on the first quarter of my life.
I have survived birth, childhood, the breakdown of my parents’ marriage, the death of my father and several others, step fathers, isolation, never ending change, moving houses and schools.
I have survived adolescence, puberty, the battle of self-esteem, identity, relationships, sex, social dynamics, love, the gauntlet of drugs and alcohol, power and perfectionism.
I have survived a science degree. To have my innate ignorance challenged and to be inspired by the amazing, exquisite beauty that exists in this universe. From the atom, to DNA, stars, galaxies, animals, evolution, humans, life death and disease, behaviour, mind, consciousness, the list is endless.
I traversed this challenge to ignorance while surviving leukaemia. With 26 months of chemotherapy, weeks of radiation, 20+ lumbar punctures all the while bald, obese and with a tube in my chest. Only then as I began to get better did my next challenge begin, avascular necrosis, a condition that destroyed my femoral heads and mobility, and until I was finally given the gift of a double hip replacement, it left me wheel chair bound, in agony and away from my beloved university.
I have survived existential crises, one after the other, the most recent occurring over the last 18 months when I discovered my childhood dream, my identity as the person in my family who would become a doctor was meaningless. A child’s dream, no longer relevant to who I was or to the future I wanted to become.
I have floated in darkness and nothingness for extended periods, a jellyfish on the shore of helplessness stranded from the sea of possibility. All the things I have done, the smiles I have won, the times I almost died, the day I first cried, all these things I have survived.
Only now do I see myself emerging, stepping out into the world ready to begin. I find myself curious, calm, aware and passionate. Alive more so than ever before as I know this is just the beginning, the introduction to my life. The stage is set, the lights are on and I am jumping out of my seat ready to see what show the world and I will come up with.
Every night we go yo sleep and in the morning we awake reborn to the possibility of new experience. I am hopeful that on some of these days the conditions will be just right, that I may be aware enough to appreciate the beauty, tragedy and magnificence of the divine comedy that is life. I’m not confident that I’ll ever understand it but am grateful and privileged for the continued opportunity to experience it.