By spring of 1994 my time in Taiwan was drawing to a close. I had almost finished my second year of Chinese studies and began asking myself what I was going to do when I returned to the States. I thought I might pursue graduate studies in comparative literature but knew my Chinese was not good enough. I was afraid to pursue journalism in Taiwan even though I had some contacts and it was something I really wanted. Aside from keeping a journal, I stopped writing because I doubted my ability. I considered law school. Three years of professional school with a clear career objective and good income was attractive. But I couldn’t see myself a lawyer. The uncertainty of the future and my inability to chose a profession ripped me up inside.
I remember angrily screaming at the bathroom mirror one night. My roommates weren’t home so I let myself cry. The window was open but I wasn’t worried about alarming my neighbors. Domestic abuse was common in our apartment building. I loathed my inability to make a decision. I was so frustrated. I hated my life.
One day not too long after this incident I had stayed home from classes because I was not feeling well. It was particularly hot that day and my apartment did not have air conditioning. Having woken up from my nap sweaty and weak with flu symptoms, I walked over to the pharmacy to get some medicine. The woman there gave me several packets of pills wrapped in paper and I took them when I got home.
The next thing I knew I was on the bathroom floor. I must’ve overdosed on the pills. As I was getting up, I knocked the back of my head hard on the bathroom sink and slammed back onto the ground. Lying supine, I discovered I could not breathe nor move my limbs. I was paralyzed. Since I could not breathe, I was probably going to die.
I looked around, praying there were no cockroaches on the floor near me. Thankfully, there were none. I did not want to die with cockroaches around me. (Surprisingly I feared cockroaches but was not afraid of death. ) My life flashed before my eyes. I remember praying that my parents would know God, feeling sorry I was upset at one of my friends for not offering to pay for her meals, and regretting all the time I wasted worrying about my future. In a moment of clarity I heard the words: “Give, you must give. This is the meaning of your life.” My mind was clear and I felt peace. Albeit a little late, finally I had direction.
After receiving the revelation (which I believe was from God), I was able to breathe. I crawled back to my bedroom and passed out on my bed. One of my roommates found me and called over a doctor friend who diagnosed me with a concussion. The words “Give, you must give” have never left me. I have not always liked those words, but I know they are to guide my life. In giving I will find meaning. I’m still not sure exactly how.