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Monday, November 17, 2008

raison d'etre

I haven't posted in awhile because, while a lot of it is because of my four month transition period here to NYC, it is also due to the lack of internet connection, a major distraction called 'graduate school' and waiting to write about something considerably important. In October I found a new apartment in Central/Spanish Harlem or the very Upper East Side and three new roommates since my temporary arrangements in Brooklyn expired. The apartment I was to move into and signed a lease for was not ready - so they placed us into a temporary five bedroom apartment down the hall from ours which was being renovated. We were told we would we would move in within a week and a half - but no later than November 1st. Without going into any extravagant details - we fought our way into the new apartment by November 7th - it wasn't easy; I had to get tough! {thanks jewish mafia!} Outside from this excruciatingly painful process with an ignorant management company there was a full load of classes to worry about with lots of reading and writing to be done each week. An adventure I would only wish upon the most evil and deserving of my adversaries. {sadly, I think includes myself since I am my own worst enemy, but not in a Christian Slater way} ANYWAY...

Raison d'etre does not have much to do with the sweet dehydrated grapes I like to put into my oatmeal or those wrinkled dancing globs we remember seeing on TV in California years ago. No, raison d'etre is french for reason for being or in the English use, "suggests a degree of rationalization, as the claimed reason for the existence of something or someone." {thanks wiki!}

In attempting to figure out what I would write or how to piece stories together under one umbrella, I remembered what is being discussed in my class, Making a Difference: Global, Organizational and Individual Perspectives on Social Change, aka MAD. Among other words like vision, mission and strategy, we are also focused on this word raison d'etre and how organizations or individuals define their reason for existence or being. I will not nauseate anyone reading this blog with my deep, profound and long-winded definition or opinion on the subject, but I thought it would make for a great theme or umbrella, as it were.

The metamorphosis has begun, unfortunately I don't feel like I am turning into a butterfly, so to speak. {I will refrain from discussing a butterfly's reason for existence, as if there were one} I completely blame this on not having my awesome Atlanta friends and support around me - however - the fault lands on my personal choices. Nothing is the same - going to church is different, going to school is different, the way I dress and present myself is different, my priorities have evolved into an almost unrecognizable creature. The last time I really looked into a mirror and studied my reflection I really felt I was looking at an entirely different person, but that was Halloween. Seriously, I knew NYC was going to be a catalyst for change, but no matter how I tried to pivot or position myself to be ready for that change, I am still a little dismayed and shocked. Not all of this experience has been negative - but in a place like this, negativity seems to reign supreme.

On November 11th 2005 I walked into AID Atlanta feeling pretty low and exhausted. I was there to figure out why my skin was yellow, eyes bloodshot and I felt weak. I went there because I knew I was at risk for Hepatitis, STD's and HIV because of my lifestyle choices of the past. I took my routine HIV test and waited 20 minutes for the preliminary results - twenty minutes turned into an hour and ten minutes. It had not crossed my mind that something was wrong with me - I was so mad I was focused on the "dimwit" tester who must have lost or forgotten about my test. He appeared with another man where I was sitting and told me my results were ready. I didn't tell him how mad I was because all of a sudden I felt like something was different. It was the volunteer's first day on the job and I was his first HIV test he had ever administered. All of his training told him what he was to do - but apparently nothing prepared him for me - his first test he gave was to an HIV positive patient who didn't know he was infected. He couldn't find the mandated counselor he had to have with him to tell me the results - that's why it took so long to get back to me. When I was told that preliminary results suggests that I am HIV positive I simply shook my head acknowledging that I had understood him, told him I didn't need counseling and left the building, alone. The next week on November 18th I found out by blood test that I was in fact, definitely HIV positive and had Hepatitis B - causing the jaundice.

Three years later - here I am. I asked God to let me live long enough to finish my BA at The Art Institute of Atlanta and today I received my diploma in the mail, finally. {thanks Beverly} Now I am asking God to let me survive getting my MS at Milano The New School for Management & Urban Policy. I don't generally focus on the "end" of my life, in fact the "woe is me" bit isn't really my style - though others may argue, it is. Things have shifted a bit recently. Up until now I have lived free of drug treatment because I have been quite healthy for a HIV positive guy. My T-Cells/CD-4 cell count has dropped to 303 {200=AIDS/>600=good} and my viral load is consistently over 50,000, which is not horrible, but not that special either. After my test, in a couple weeks, I will start drug treatment to fight against the virus, in hopes that I will prolong my life and sustain my good health. My goal is to become "undetectable" which would be a T-Cell count of over 600 and a low viral load. I was hoping not to have to do this for awhile, but part of moving here was because I knew this day was coming.

Needless to say, life and my perspective on or about it has changed. My raison d'etre has become more fluid in nature but more defined as I experience more of "life" everyday. The important things I have learned to focus on are simple truths I have known within me for most of my life - I hope that others know this about themselves as well:

I am a child of a loving, all-knowing and merciful Heavenly Father

He has sent me here to learn, grow, be tested and advance {this includes messing up BIG time}

By coming unto His Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior, seeking forgiveness through repentance and sanctification through adherence to covenants and commandments, I will be blessed, healed, made whole and brought home to live with Him again in eternal glory

Heavenly Father has given me parents, {not necessarily biological} angels, friends, teachers, leaders and His Spirit to lead me, guide me and walk beside - to help me find my way - to teach me the gospel and all that I must know to endure to the end with faith, courage, patience, joy, hope and charity

I was not sent here to fail - I am not alone

My raison d'etre is as simple as this: "I am that I might have joy"

Despite my circumstances or maybe because of them - I will do all that I can do to focus on what brings me that eternal joy I so desperately crave - to live with Him someday. I guess I have to start with the man in the mirror {thanks MJ!} and learn how to live with him first.

You have been caught Jey Walking!


Lauren T. said...

Your Atlanta friends miss you very, very much, Jey. Especially this one. Let me know if I can do anything for you, aside from my usual prayers. xoxo

jey walker gladstone said...

Surprise me! LOL - being my friend and keeping in touch is great - the prayers work too. I miss my Atlanta also-so much fun we had.

Taryn Baldwin said...

jey! you are wonderful! thank you for sharing this. we need more people like you, my dear! i propose that your "raison d'etre" is to serve as inspiration and a shining example to people like me. xox

jey walker gladstone said...

I love and miss you Taryn! i will hopefully get to South Africa one of these days - let me know if you ever get to NYC!