The Broken Ceramic Plate
I’m sure a lot of people already figured what I would be writing my blog about this time. This past weekend, most of the GCIL students went on a vacation trip to Goa on the west coast. Upon arrival, we took a break to gather ourselves and at around 2 AM, walked over to the beach for a night swim. Even in the dark, the ocean was breathtaking: the breeze on my face, the smell of the salt, and the softness of the sand beneath my feet. I wasn’t planning on swimming, so I sat on the beach chair, listening to the sound of the crashing waves. But as many started heading back, the ocean drew me into the water. The water was impossibly warm. I had never experienced swimming in an ocean that warm at this time of night.
Floating on my back, staring up at the endless blanket of stars above, everything felt surreal. I rarely find such peace. I’ve only experienced something similar before while alone in a pool, with no ripples in the water. I would dip below the water surface on my back, push off the wall, and watch the water above me which was smooth as glass. But this was different; the open air with the stars and moon lighting up the sky made me want for nothing more.
I swam around for a little bit longer, getting almost ready to head back to the Airbnb. A minute more, maybe two. Maybe I’ll run out into the ocean one more time. A few steps into the run, I felt something sharp enter the bottom of my right foot. In shock, I quickly pulled back and ran out onto the sand. I saw red and immediately held my foot with my left hand to apply pressure. My only thought was to stop the continuous flow of blood. With the help of friends, I managed to get home, clean the cut, and patch it up well enough to stop the bleeding.
After a night of restless sleep, I woke up to Kevin looking at me, unable to contain a smile. I was baffled. I couldn’t decide if I should laugh or be mad. He pointed out how miserable I looked, sitting on a chair, my hurt leg bandaged up and propped up against a wooden coffee table. I couldn’t help but crack up at my situation as well. That’s what true friends do I guess.
Later that day, after surviving a battle against a needle, with no help from the fake local anesthesia that was promised to me, Kevin asked me a question I never expected, “What have you learned from this experience?” What kind of question was that? It sounded like something my mom would ask when I was a child to help me learn a lesson. But I knew he didn’t mean it in that way. There was a deeper level to the question. A more thought provoking one. It was difficult to answer this question on the spot, so I took time to think about it throughout the day.
What I learned from the experience was humility, disappointment, and frustration, but also patience, loyalty, and vulnerability. I was unlucky enough to step on the one piece of waste that anyone saw on the beach (later discovered by Julie to be broken ceramic plate) and was humbled by the reminder that there is always a risk. I was disappointed and frustrated about how I had to spend the rest of the trip hobbling around, slowing people down, and making sure my foot never got wet. This meant that I was not able to enter the water again after that first night. Patience was key in handling this severe damper on my weekend.
I managed to find peace and calm while watching the sunset and removing myself from what I would normally be doing with two healthy feet: running and jumping around and diving into the water. Being constantly active can detract from really experiencing the beauty of a place and I think that is what I found while sitting alone, staring off into the vast ocean.
Even though I was so unlucky this weekend, I had more reason to feel luckier than not. I had a loyal friend that held my hand tight while I was straining and sweating on the hospital bed as the needle weaved in and out of my foot, telling me crazy stories and yelling out stupid things like, “Shrimp chips!” to distract me. Many others insisted that I put my arm around their shoulders so that they could support me as I attempted to get from place to place. I was surprised at how comfortable I was at being vulnerable in front of many people that I had just met not too long ago and again how lucky I am to have a family around me, who are there for all of my experiences, both the good and the bad.