Sep 8, 2012


 The last few days have been relatively nondescript.  I’ve had a few Neurophysiology lectures (Endocrinology doesn’t begin until mid-October), and they’ve all been manageable.  I’ve spent some time keeping house - sweeping floors, taking out the trash, organizing cabinets and drawers, and the like.  Last night, I met Y and a few other people from the Salthill trip at a pub in town, just to scope out the nightlife around here.  (I found it to be moderately lively...but then, New York does set a pretty high standard in this arena.)  It was discouraging that I couldn’t spend my time developing my relationship with Y, because she had been drinking long before she arrived in town and so was in no state to talk about anything meaningful.  (I’ve long been aware, friends, that the bar scene is not for me.  If I’m going to have a drink, I’d prefer to do it with good friends, ideally in a setting that’s conducive to solid conversation and growth.)

I believe I should be making an effort to be present and engaged with Galway while I’m here, but the honest truth is that engagement is a tough thing to strive toward when I don’t want to be here.

A friend from home prompted me the other day to consider the ways in which I’m “clinging to home”.  This reality - that I am, indeed, clinging - is a sobering one, but one that’s important to acknowledge.  In my (biased) opinion, I’m clinging for a legitimate reason: because I value the power and immediacy of being near the people I care about.  Nearness is incredibly important to me.  And although I don’t have the luxury of physical nearness while I’m here, Skype, e-mail, and Facebook give me the next best thing.  But where, I wonder, is the boundary between maintaining your community and clinging to it?

Blogger Mary Carver writes:

“The encouragement to develop authentic, doing-life-together relationships with people, the chastisement to stop hiding, stop being afraid of getting hurt – it’s all the rage, isn’t it?  So we’re all plodding along, pushing through our fears, our nerves, our past experience that tells us people can be challenging and relationships can be complicated.  We’re accepting invitations, asking hard questions, offering a hand or a hug to someone who needs it.  But how do you know when you’re finally doing it, when you’re doing life together, when you’re living in community?”

That's my question.  I've been trying to extend myself toward people for the past two weeks because I feel like it's something I should be it's something that's good for me.  But the idea that I might find community here feels almost laughable even if I do persevere and continue to reach for it, how will I know when I've found it?


  1. Wow, you need to accept kindness. You're too self-entitled to let anyone help you or even let you help yourself. Who do you think you are?
    Stop acting like everyone is such a bother in your life, because at the end of the day, you're alone.

  2. Hello there. Thanks for popping in and commenting; I appreciate the honesty of your reaction, although I'm sorry that you feel such hostility is necessary. Frankly, I think it's a bit cowardly of you to make such remarks about me (someone whose heart you don't know) without revealing your name, at the very least. I was about to mark your comment "spam" and ignore it altogether, but then again, since you've invited me into conversation, here are a few of my thoughts. Kindly consider them with respect.

    Do I need to learn how to accept kindness? Sure. I've never been one of those people who easily accept compliments with a graceful "thanks". I recently lost my grandmother, and even as friends step up to help me navigate the grief, I'm discovering anew that I'm far more independent than perhaps I ought to be. But since I've come to Galway, God has been teaching me large, beautiful lessons about dependence and reliance...which only tells me that growth is possible, even in the most hardened of places.

    As for being self-entitled...since (I assume) you don't know me, I'll forgive you that one. But if you did know me, you'd know that adjusting to the experience of living abroad was a rocky process for me. I may need to learn how to accept help, but I'm 21 and (hopefully) have a long life ahead of me, full of relationships and experiences that will expedite the process. Please keep in mind that when I wrote this post, I had been in Galway for thirteen days, and was struggling with the fact that I was suddenly thousands of miles away from my loved ones. This is no justification for being self-entitled, and perhaps that's something I need to work on, but it's at least an explanation that I hope you might consider with respect for my emotions.

    I hardly think that "everyone is such a bother in my life" - I am, in fact, blessed with a beautiful set of friends and family who love me better than I deserve, as well as a God whose love is just beyond my powers of description. So I'd like to challenge your comment that "at the end of the day, you're alone". I actually used to believe a similar thought - that at the end of the day, all you have is family. I've since modified that belief (since last January). Now, since I don't know where your faith lies, please know that I don't write the following to push my own faith on you, but just to help you understand where I'm coming from: I'm a Christian, and my God happens to be a God of promises. One of His promises is that He will never leave or forsake me, and for me, that's truth. (In the interest of full disclosure, I don't really believe that truth at the moment because grief is a big bully who rudely gets in the way of such things, but I trust that at some point, I'll believe it again.)

    My thoughts are with you, friend. I hope I haven't offended you with my many thoughts - I tend to get a little long-winded sometimes, but I wanted to give you the dignity of a thoughtful response. I welcome you to continue following me as I write about my experience of being abroad. Please let me know if you'd like to chat some more - I always respond to my comments.