For those who have known me for some time, you know my journey of self-exploration as it relates to my career has been anything but linear. From neuroscience to prosthetics. From medicine to physical therapy. Maybe I want to live abroad? Maybe I want a business? My degrees reflect this thorough (a.k.a. indecisive) nature of mine.
Well, great news! I have another one to add to the list. But this time, I have the previous experiences behind me to scaffold my (many) thoughts.
To the untrained eye, this looks like a major turn in a completely new direction. I can assure you it’s not. Here are the pieces leading up to this new adventure:
- On a personal note: Fall 2015, I went through a medical saga. After accumulating a more than a four digit copay, getting pretty pictures of my brain, and seeing many medical specialists, I put to rest the plans I had for my life. That changed the day I went to an organic farm as part of a class project. As I weeded and harvested garlic, something shifted. My circumstance had not changed, yet I felt in myself. A part of the earth. A feeling of home in the soil. A sense of wholeness when my world felt like it was falling to pieces.
- On an academic note: Fortunately, the saga ended with a proper diagnosis and treatment. That moment stayed with me enough that the next term I decided to write a research paper on the physiological and psychological benefits of horticultural therapy. I was hooked. I paged through a myriad of scientific articles detailing the positive outcomes different populations have had with horticultural therapy interventions. Although none of the research talked about my specific situation, my experience on the farm was validated; I felt like I had a tribe.
- On a philosophical note: The last few years, since Senegal in 2013, my interest in minimalism and sustainable living has grow. My interest really peaked after reading a book called Ismael and watching a few documentaries on Netflix. In the last few months, with these in mind, I have become increasingly disillusioned by consumerism. It felt like I get my degree to get a job to get a spouse to get a house to get kids so they can rinse and repeat. None of that is bad. In fact, I do hope to have a spouse, house, and kids one day. I just don’t want that lifestyle to choose me. I have been given the privilege from my upbringing to try out different lifestyles, to explore the world, to test waters, so I can choose my lifestyle. And I am doing just that.
So these three pieces grafted together bring me to my next adventure: I am going to apprentice at an organic farm on the Big Island of Hawaii!
This opportunity allows me to gain the practical horticultural experience that I will need if I want to use horticultural therapy as a possible modality in physical therapy. I get to live minimally and sustainably. I get to experience a different lifestyle – a Hawaiian farm lifestyle! I get to unwind intellectually for a few months before an intensive DPT program.
And, most importantly, I feel like me. I have spent so much of my life “getting the grades” and “pleasing society” by no fault of anyone except our culture. The truth of the matter is all the accolades and awards, though nice, did not make up for the fact that I did not feel authentically me. I want to change that. At this point, I feel like organic farming is the next step to living wholeheartedly. And I can’t tell you how excited I am about this next chapter of my life.