I remember I was reading This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald when I chanced upon the word convalescence. The chapter was titled “Experiments in Convalescence” and it talked about the protagonist Amory Blaine’s recovery from a broken heart. I actually found it quite self-indulgent to be honest — and I didn’t enjoy the book all that much… but I had to push through it, albeit VERY reluctantly, because I had selected it for my H3 research paper, which dealt with the overarching notion of an individual’s self-consciousness in his or her coming-of-age.
Anyway, I didn’t really enjoy This Side of Paradise even though I recognised that the existential questions Amory Blaine (and Esther Greenwood from The Bell Jar, and Stephen Daedalus from A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man) faced remained wholly universal and timeless. It is precisely the idea of self-consciousness that drove their motivations and their actions I was attempting to examine. Even though it may not exactly be the most rational — after all, it was the authors’ biographies veneered with elements of fictionality– it made me realise how inexorably apt it was for myself as an individual, as well.
We often ask ourselves… how do we recover? How do we convalesce? It comes by differently for different people, and I do this by pushing myself to try the things I’ve never done before in attempt to rid myself of stagnancy, and at the same time hold on to the things and people that are wonderfully and comfortingly familiar.
I’ve realised that the critical individual tends not to recognise their worth. When someone has been passed over once, twice, thrice,– and even though they’ve been hurt & hurt again they seem to be the common denominator and therefore self-blame hereafter comes into play.
I am definitely no stranger to questioning my own value, my purpose and my worth in this place. I’ve placed my worth in what I thought were my ultimate panaceas — myself, my closest friends & family, my faith. And even though some of these facets stay staunchly convicted to me, I find that I stray here & there all too often. At this juncture I tend to question myself — am I afraid of this constancy? After all, I pride myself on being able to adapt to changes because I believe no one should stay stagnant. I believe that things can always be better, be better, be better. But should they?
However, I’ve come to realise that this motivation of always trying to be better can also be my hubris. Even though I firmly believe in the infinite potential of the self, contentment must similarly be reached. I’ve noticed that I derive the greatest satisfaction in achieving the end goal — so much so that I always forget to enjoy the journey & the corresponding processes it took for me to get there.
Similarly, convalescence is a journey. Yes, it is a slow, trudging one — but still a fundamental journey for myself (and everyone else) nevertheless. And I will take it from here, be forgiving, and focus on the present instead of being primed of what lies ahead.
And I will always try to do life with a smile. :-)
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
— Proverbs 4:23
I’m grateful to God for all things, and grateful that I have had the privilege to experience all the strange and beautiful twists and turns and straight roads and bumps and ups and downs!! And in the same vein I’m so thankful I reread Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith because once again it showed me how faith at its very essence is simple and loving and kind, and I find that it is precisely these three values I must focus on — and not the politics religion tends to be associated with.