every rose has its thorn

every rose has its thorn
just like every night has its dawn
just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
every rose has its thorn
– POISON

So, the end result of months of effort, hundreds of dollars, and one truly delightful trip to Chicago, is that I have been rejected by every American graduate school I applied to. This is possibly the sort of thing you shouldn’t post on the internet, because the people who read it might think: EGAD! A TOTAL REJECT! A FAILURE!

That is more or less the state of mind I was inhabiting yesterday, when I drank beer by myself at 4PM in a pub I’d never been to before, and then walked a circuitous 9km back to my house. (Any excuse for self-indulgent melodrama! Ah shuddup, I needed the exercise…)

Today, however! Today I have readjusted my expectations, stuffed certain (pipe) dreams back in the cellar where they apparently belong, and have begun the process of rewriting my personal narrative. This happens every so often. It’s necessary. I’m getting better at it. One of the benefits of periodically reinventing oneself in different countries, I suppose.

Possible themes for the rewrite:

1. TRUE NATIVE OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST SEES THE LIGHT AND RETURNS HOME, FOR GOOD. SAVES WHALES.

2. PERPETUAL NOMAD PACKS SUITCASE, RETURNS TO AFRICA.

3. URBAN GARDENER BUYS HOUSE FOR $7500 IN DETROIT, FORMS SUSTAINABLE ART/ENVIRONMENT COLLECTIVE, PARTICIPATES IN AMERICAN RENAISSANCE.

4. DISILLUSIONED COLLEGE GRAD SAYS “FUCK THE MAN,” MOVES TO HAIDA GWAII TO WEATHER OUT THE COMING APOCALYPSE.

5. FOLLOWING PARTICIPATION IN THE MONGOL RALLY, NEWLY-MINTED ADVENTURIST TRADES CAR FOR GER, SPENDS REST OF LIFE ON THE MONGOLIAN STEPPES. MAINTAINS FRIENDSHIP WITH NOTORIOUSLY LEATHER-PANTS-WEARING WILD CAMEL BIOLOGIST.

6. ACADEMIC CHANGES SPOTS, SWITCHES TO INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS. OPENS OFFICE FOR EXPANDING CANADIAN OIL COMPANY IN LUANDA, ANGOLA. KICKS ASS, TAKES NAMES. MAKES BRIBES.

7. STARBUCKS.

So we’ll see. “It’s all for the best.” That statement is part desperate rationalization, part necessity, part logical conclusion, part philosophical pondering. In many ways, I’m not well-suited for a PhD in biology. After five (six? seven?) years in a demanding, prestigious grad school, my path would have been well-marked. Is that what I want? I haven’t divined my own path. I think it’s good to have one, but not sure if embarking on a PhD before I’ve figured it out for myself is a good idea. In a way, signing up for a PhD would be asking someone else to form my path – to set the course and keep me on it for however many years it takes. That’s not necessarily a good thing. I believe in the importance of finding our own inspiration. So, perhaps, “it’s all for the best.”

Life is full of surprises. Chances are I’ll be in Vancouver come September. When I got off the plane in Victoria, returning from Chicago, I looked at the mountains, breathed in the air, and felt a sense of relief and happiness at having returned home. This is my favourite place. I am more comfortable, more myself, in a sense more fully-realized when I am here. It’s impossible to compare the value of these various things: money, prestige, career, path-finding, environment, “self-realization,” happiness, growth of various kinds, culture, friends, opportunity… But I almost believe, must force myself to believe, will actively remind myself to believe, that it’s all for the best. I never regret.

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One response to “every rose has its thorn

  1. KICKS ASS, TAKES NAMES.

    Done and done.

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