You Live, You Learn

I unearthed a poem that I posted back in 2006. This poem was written by Jorge Luis Borges (or is it Veronica Shoffstall? but definitely not me) and it needs to be put back here. Just the poem though, I’m not including the whole cringe-worthy post. I can make a new cringe worthy one below. 😆

After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes open,

With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…

With every good-bye you learn.

– J.L. Borges / V. Shoffstall

Sometimes, your past really does leave tokens of wisdom that your present self needs.


While the poem can speak largely about romantic relationship, or maybe any type of relationship with others, it currently speaks to me about my relationship with my body and myself. You see it has been a full year since I had a hysterectomy.

That surgery was performed on me to salvage my body and to eliminate the risk of uterine cancer (which was higher than average for me because of my health condition last year). However, after the surgery, it felt like something very important to my psyche was also taken from me. I felt more like an empty shell than anything else. Behind my smiles were dark thoughts and a bottomless pit of sadness.

And you learn that you really can endure…

I don’t want to detail anything as it might trigger me while I’m writing it, or trigger me (again) when I read this at some point in the future. It might also trigger someone else who stumbles upon this post. I don’t know.

Just know that it was tough for me. The first few weeks after I left the hospital heck, even months after the surgery, were the toughest. No amount of preparation was going to make me ready for the psychological impact this surgery had on me. However, I was surrounded by a really good support system. I am grateful that I can rely on some of my family and close friends. Dr. Loren may have saved my sick body, but it was all of you who saved my life.

With every good-bye, you learn.

The road to acceptance is long and arduous. I know that this sadness will not go away completely any time soon (it might rear its ugly head from time to time, even decades after posting this) but I am continuously recovering physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually healing. There are parts of me that are harder to love but I’ll get there. I’ll eventually be able to accept and love myself wholly. I am strong and I will get through this. I’m just lucky to be alive and a little healthier than last year.

Borrowing the words of Alanis Morissette (from an old but good song), I just have to wait for the dust to settle and see when the smoke clears. You live, you learn.

I hope the poem above would also mean something to someone reading this. 🙂

Say something, anything