The Proposal

After much waiting and anticipation, I asked probably the most important question in my life (thus far) to the woman I love a few weeks ago. The answer was a resounding yes. After much thought and deliberation as how to actually propose, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to (1) surprise her, (2) make it a special moment between the two of us, and (3) make it emphatic.

I think I accomplished all three of these things in my approach. I did it on a Friday, with Amanda expecting me around 8pm. I drove up 3 hours early, set up champagne at the post-proposal restaurant, and set up 2 bunches of 36-inch sparklers on either side of the stairway leading up to her house. After confirming her location with a trusted third party none other than her roommate, Aleah, I wait for the sun to set. The staircase shimmering, I ran up the stairs, ran back down, and watched as she stepped through with elation as she realized what was taking place.

Just the two of us in that brisk February air, the low blaze of the fireworks, I knelt down and asked her.

IMG_1589

Future wife

What followed was a great weekend. We spent some time with her friends and enjoyed a romantic dinner at Lot 2 later that evening. The following day, we knocked out some work in the morning, went to the gym, and got Chipotle and relaxed. On Valentine’s we checked out the Joslyn art museum.

ring pic

Dinner and Ring

All in all, as weekends come, pretty much a perfect one.

Saba’s second peak

Every morning on Saba, the skyline that greets me is the sea, the sky, and the ragged, looming peaks that frame my view from the Bottom. And every time I see those peaks, I ask myself how it might be to climb them and look at the island from on high.

Today was the day I finally climbed the slopes of Paris hill and it’s Whale Tale; it made for a memorable adventure. When Amanda visited me a few weeks ago, we tried the hike, but didn’t manage to find the right trail and ended up scrambling up through the jungle unguided. This time guidance was welcomed.

I set out with friends from my class, Neil and Cirous, around 10 am from behind the stairs of the medical facility. I chose to bring a bottle of water, my trusty knife, my paracord bracelet (which, thankfully, was not needed), sunglasses, and gloves. The gloves were the most useful of these items, and I had a keener grip when climbing.

After an initial upward trail that took about 15 minutes, we came to a field of gigantic boulders covered in lichen that gave the next portion of our venture a primordial feel. We grappled, leaped, shimmied, and bouldered up the various rock formations for a good hour before getting to the top.

Some easy bouldering

Some easy bouldering

There were a few telling moments in our climb where careful planning was required to overcome the arduous incline of the terraces of stone and the occasional treachery of the trail; on many instances, branches that were trusted gave way and alternate routes up were used.

The peak was glorious; a touch of gossamer clouds hung the sky was bright, and the was a gentle breeze that soothed as I glanced down on the red rooftops of the Bottom from my new vantage point. It is always a poignant moment when you look at something you’ve seen a thousand times in a different light.

As we made our descent, we were unable to find the same path that brought us up. We warily made our way through the brush and shrubbery, following the music of the Caribbean Carnival, to find ourselves across the street from our anatomy professor’s home.

Near the peak of Paris Hill

Near the peak of Paris Hill

From a technical point of view: the combination of boulders and generous grip availability made this hike extremely enjoyable. Easily the best hike I’ve done on Saba – very little danger for an amateur climber. I will note that some of the flora on that hike is very unforgiving – all three of us suffered minor cuts and scrapes from the green plants that somehow grow in rock.

Achievements

As I understand it, there are two types of achievements.

The first type of achievement is personal. I think this is the type of thing most people, myself included, strive for on a daily basis. These are things like getting perfect marks on exams, excelling physically, improving your body composition, getting a degree, etc. These things are methods of bettering ourselves as individuals. Most successful people in society proceed by excelling at personal achievements and going forwards from there. For instance, a medical student excels in his or her coursework and knows the proper physiology and anatomy of the human body well enough to become a practicing surgeon. For some, that in itself is a personal achievement.

The second type of achievement is more lasting. It isn’t a personal achievement, but, it is a sort of existential achievement. This requires broad vision and drive. I am having a hard time describing how it is different (but not opposite) from a personal achievement, so I will give examples. Establishing a library or a hospital or a school in a severely impoverished place in the world. Doing pro bono work with your advanced degree. Modifying a staple crop to make it more vitamin-rich, preventing blindness in millions of children. Bridging the gap of private and governmental space flight programs. This sort of achievement affects many, many people. It is the kind of achievement that can take the help of hundreds for the sake of one resounding goal.

While the two achievement types are different, they can have some overlap. Many (if not most) people spend their lives working for organizations with such broad oversight. I would include hospitals in the list of such organizations, and many doctors have larger goals to help as many people as possible. They provide a necessary service, but the pace at which they change the world is necessarily slow and personal. Often times, public health policies can have a larger impact on the face of a populace, but not always greater.

I guess the main difference is that personal achievements mean something to the achiever, whereas the other types mean something to others. I don’t want to make out pursuit of personal achievement as selfish; self-mastery is an important part of being an individual and life. Ideally, one can strive for both simultaneously and harmonize the two.

Personally, I am trying to accomplish both. I want to become a physician, which I think had feet in both territories. I want to participate in research that will come to fruition and affect medicine and quality of life globally. I want a stronger, leaner body. I am actively pursuing these goals; with time I will accomplish them.

More goals

Several of past goals were met. New ones for now:

  • Write up for Lab
  • Spironolactone/Investigate questions brought up by Dr. Samuel regarding ESRD and potassium channels
  • Read children’s books
  • Continue handstand work (I have made great progress in this – held a handstand with back against the wall for the first time – arm strength is increasing)
  • Register for Biochem.
  • Matlab/Wolfram practice

Goals met:

  • Scored well
  • Perform RT-PCR analysis and ICC staining
  • Lift with friend
  • Send out updates to all schools
  • Passaged cells
  • Finished pediatric proposal (not great but we’ll see)
  • Got a squat rack

As a side note, the long-standing goals have yet to be met.

Current goals

Two categories:

Specific (in next two weeks):

  • Score well (+95%) on my exam on the 4th
  • Passage cells that day
  • Clean up diet seriously
  • Complete pediatric proposal by 12/15
  • Aldactone paper?
  • Complete workouts as scheduled
  • Build squat rack
  • Register for Biochem.
  • Increase pullups
  • Handstand trials

General (in next year)

  • Medical school. Interviews. Anything.
  • Muscle-up
  • Full standing handstand
  • Relative increases TBD in lifts
  • Lower BF%