“Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed by a situation- when you’re in the darkest of darkness – that’s when your priorities are reordered.” –Phoebe Snow
The past few weeks have been some of the most trying and crazy weeks of my life. I, however, have come out on the other end better, stronger, and wiser after it was all said and done. It all started with the false positive HIV test that I wrote about in my post A New Future Derailed My Current Path. Although after much reflection, I don’t know if writing that blog post was the best idea or rather, maybe it was just the timing of the post. Hours after receiving the good news, high on endorphins and life, with the experience as fresh as it could be, I sat down and pumped out a quick summary of what had transpired over roughly 24 hours. I left out some details and concentrated on the heart thumping fact that I had tested positive for HIV. I think it was a great post. In fact, I think it was the best post I’ve ever written because it came from an organic passion and sense of urgency that’s hard to reproduce sans a trauma.
In the post I said, “I processed more than I have in months. I discovered what was important to me and was surprised by what immediately fell off my radar once I was confronted with a life altering challenge.” And, mind you, I had reflected and realized a great deal of things during those 24 hours. Yet, it was only 24 hours. One day. Was it scary as hell? Yes. But, I believe that it wasn’t long enough and I turned around too quickly and broadcasted the experience out the world without taking enough time to sort through everything. Maybe if I had hesitated longer, I would have never shared the experience. Maybe I would have written it differently. Actually, I know I would have written a very different story. I likely would have been more calculated, detailed, and written a shitty post that lacked a sense of fear and gravity.
In many ways, I think that I cheapened the experience by writing about it in the manner that I did. I pushed out to everyone what was a life shaking event, collected several blog follows, a lot of facebook likes and comments, and scared the crap out of a lot of people. Was I seeking a social media wave of sympathy and support? Yeah, I guess I was and I don’t know what that says about me. I wanted to validate the situation via the response of others as opposed to seeking self-validation (and you could possibly say this post is just a continuation of seeking social approval, but I think it is something else entirely).
The day following my post, did I wake up and feel as if I had been granted another chance? That my life has been reset and that I was on a new path towards self-improvement and change? Nope. It was just another day. The days that followed were very much the same. I was off having a great time traveling around Burkina Faso, exploring the sites of the southwest, and my mindset was unchanged. I hadn’t forgotten the experience. No. Testing positive for HIV, even if a false positive, wasn’t something I could easily shake. It was there, lurking in the back of my mind, but I was still going through the motions.
Now, all of that has changed as a result of several weeks of additional on-the-edge drama that I am currently choosing to not publicly write about. I am writing this post however, and I plan to be doing a lot more writing over the next month. Don’t worry or speculate though. I’m currently healthy, well, and doing great. I’m going to be writing for myself though, as a cathartic exercise to reflect and work through not only my Peace Corps experiences but also my life as a whole, past, present, and future. Maybe one day I’ll publish it all, but for now I have to be selfish.
I sorta screwed up the first time and didn’t make the most of the opportunity that chance had presented me. Yes, that HIV scare was a once in a million (or whatever the odds are of a false positive test) opportunity that I had cheapened and was allowing to fade into a past memory rather than actively taking that energy and focusing it into something great. Luckily, as I now see it, I was then given a second chance to have life beat me down, kick my butt, and test my personal resiliency to its core.
“Two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and the second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.” –Carl von Clausewitz
I can say, without an inflated ego, that I found several truths during the past few weeks. Now, I hope to take the weeks ahead of me, as my Peace Corps service comes to a close, to follow the faint light of truth and discover where I am to go.