Weeks 3-4. I was going to write about gratitude this week but things have turned out otherwise and this week has been about survival and being resilient.
We are out of Maine and I can summarize the experience in one word! Hard. Perhaps this is why we only saw one person in a wheelchair during the whole journey on the road. Life Down East is clearly difficult and that is reflected in the sparse population. There is also vast difference between the state around the town of Ellsworth-where you take the road to Mt. Desert, the island where Bar Harbor and the main part of Acadia are located and further south. This is reflected in socioeconomic status, in that there are bigger, more upkept homes, many more businesses and a significantly greater population.
On the other hand, I believe you lose something in terms of willingness to communicate with strangers when the population is greater. Whereas, we were able to ask for assistance in terms of rides for our back up vehicle Down East, we didn’t have the same kind of luck when in a populated area. From Rockland on, we asked a few times for assistance but people just looked at us and weren’t really trying as hard to be helpful. Now, I just wouldn’t think of asking someone for the same assistance in a crowded area. Maybe it’s just me, but at times it feels to me that the more people are around, the less you feel you can ask for help.
A positive aspect of being in a more urban area has been the availability of health care resources. Additionally, I have been blessed to be a physician and therefore have been able to write my own prescription for Keflex when I needed it for my calf cellulitis. Then fortunately, I was able to write a prescription for the shingles on my face before I even went to the Emergency Room and was quickly able to see an eye doctor. But this brings to question-what if you aren’t a doctor and what if you can’t find transportation to an ER or a doctor’s office? What do you do then? And even worse, what if you don’t have health insurance?
We can have so many issues in life and yet we all must get through them. Each in our own ways. Right now, I am working to heal my eye and realize how incredibly difficult it is to live life in pain and to feel fatigued and to have a visible, physical problem. I am hiding behind my sunglasses but still feel as if I am being stabbed in the eye and feel like a pariah. I don’t feel comfortable just reaching out to a stranger and speaking with them under the current condition. I can’t wait for this to heal, but realize that regardless of whether it is healed or not, I will be giving my first talk on the trip next Monday. I will definitely be wearing sunglasses then because I do not want to disturb people. But I have to be resilient and go on with the event.
Another thing that I have learned though this experience is how we need to have resilience in our current political environment, especially with dealing with climate change and the deniers. I splurged on my first pedicure while we were in Bath and happened to meet a woman with 3 young children doing the same. She is a lovely black mom from Selma, Alabama. I overheard her speaking to another woman about how uncomfortable she felt in Bath due to the lack of diversity and feeling as if she was being stared at. Realizing how the homogeneity had been apparent to me, I had to initiate a conversation. We discussed the lack of diversity in Maine and now I realize, how being in a situation where you are an obvious minority like this requires resilience and perseverance. Just like the fight to improve accessibility and the fight for clean energy.
But there is no choice. Even though life is hard at times and we want to crawl into our shells (definitely how I feel now and have felt the past 5 days), we’ve got to be tough and cling to our dreams. So, to all of you that are down today or suffering, although it is cliché, remember we only need to handle one day at a time and you can turn your scars into stars.