Post-RM Blues – Stretching our wings for the flight of Icarus
Finally back home, I have started the process of recovering from the RM. We had trouble at the airport: staying overnight in Sao Paulo after a cancelled flight, communication problems between airlines… my luggage is supposed to arrive home this afternoon, and I am looking forward to enjoying the precious Yerba Mate that I received as a gift from IFMSA-Argentina (and for which I am so very, very thankful). Then since yesterday I have finally gotten ill from the RM’s microbe ! The one that contaminated us all, and whose human vector and germ reservoir, we all suspect, was this girl from Ecuardor, the one we call “the Avestruz” – she knows who she is ;).
Yes, there was an epidemic of flu or the like at the RM, and most, if not all, have been affected. However, there is another epidemic, more subtle even, yet just as unavoidable, which participants will confront once they are home, if not from the moment they must turn their back to the urugayian sun, and walk the desert leading back to ordinary life. (cue the violins, cue the sad generic). There is indeed a period of transition, or maybe more so a sudden rupture, a quick sting and a slow poison. This journey in the limbo, this is perhaps what is referred to more commonly here as the “Post-RM Blues”. It’s a good thing they haven’t covered it in the DSM-V; there are no pills for that.
Contemplate the following experience: you spend ten days in a state of bliss, an ecstasy unknown, a harmony almost totalitarian: the participants’ good will and openness, not to mention the warmth eternal of Latin Americans, does away with all available room for worries, it eats away the space of regret; attitudes of hesitation and caution recede to a blur, an obsolete concept, and you engage in a collective movement of trust, an IFMSA family at its most inclusive, and you come to the realization that you and your friends are a complementary journey, that IFMSA is more than the sum of its parts; it’s embrace is rich and abundant, like a tasty, tasty cheesecake that doesn’t make you fat (nor diabetic). You drink from the cup, yet the glass is always full (and I have already spoken how this community defies the 2nd law of thermodynamics), and in the wine you find there is spirit but no hangover, much like a light casting no shadow. And this light is the great leveler. For ten days all participants are bathed in the same glow, move in the same Gestalt, sleep as little sleep, yet dream as much, and as big, as others dream. You make friends, you binge on laughter, make promises you wouldn’t normally keep, have conversations you wouldn’t usually sustain, smile for reasons you wouldn’t have understood before. You stand for causes, yet you fall for people. You share yourself, expand yourself, extend yourself until you are partly everyone else, and everyone else is partly you.
And in the end, you leave the community. You leave everyone. You leave it to fate. And as you turn your back, you leave a part of yourself, too. You come back to your country, to your city, to your room, to your med life. But home is where the heart is, and you find you have scattered a bit of yourself everywhere or, in a sense, everywhere else. In Mexico. In Chile. In Brazil. In Guatemala. In Paraguay. In Panama. In Costa Rica. What a colourful journey. And always a step ahead, you are already thinking of how you will travel to these destinations. In a lucky turn of events, or a careful ruse, you expect when the next journey may begin. In the meantime, you lie awake in a world transformed, bearing the mark of absences and the hope of promises; this new experience of the world is uncanny, as your life looks exactly the same as before, yet feels completely different. It takes time to adapt. This is the Post-RM Blues: a slow compromise, a fateful attempt at overcoming the distance between your ordinary self and your community, IFMSA-fulfilled self. You project yourself and dream about the leap of faith; like the wings of Icarus, outstretched to meet the sun, yet fated to embracet the eternal memory of the sea.
How to conclude ? I am mitigated. I breathe in, contemplating the lightness of a kite. Yet I breathe out, feeling the weight of an anchor. In between the here and the elsewhere: overcoming the blues comes down to a careful weigh of balance and momentum, a journey in itself. Until next time, here is a poem by Robert Frost. (It was taken from a dear friend; you will recognize yourself).
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”