Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
One thousand, nine hundred and eighty-four; the number of days I had been sober. I became an addict at the age of 6, went clean at 12 and stayed that way until this past summer. I had spent most of my childhood pursuing my passion, traveling for hours in the family car through New England, riding cold chair lifts, and gripping cups of hot chocolate to help soothe third degree frost bite. The fix that I got from flying down a mountain at high speed was exhilarating; the acceleration, the excitement, and the competition came together to create this indescribable rush. This was not just a hobby or a sport but rather an addiction. I was an adrenaline addict.
Five years ago, I gave up the opportunity to be part of the national development alpine ski race program and live a life of non-stop action in Vermont with a group of elite winter sports athletes. So why did I go clean and give it all up? After a winter at age 12 at the prestigious Stratton Mountain School, I realized that although the personal success of winning felt great, life at SMS could not fulfill an emptiness inside of me. There was a void that the adrenaline could not reach. So, I decided to make a change and try a more academic environment away from the majestic Green Mountains. Although incredibly painful, I gave up racing and entered a new intellectually stimulating middle school. Withdrawal was challenging, as I struggled to kick my addiction.
At my new school, I worked incredibly hard and did well but remained unfulfilled. I yearned for more, and wondered if I was in pursuit of something that just did not exist. I began to believe that I would never again feel that sensational childhood high that sent shivers down my spine as I made beautiful carves down a mountain of hard icy snow; until this summer when I walked into Operating Room 19 with Dr. Ted Schwartz.
There I stood on my own in the cold. I felt the sweat collect in the palms of my hands and the droplets drip down my face. I quickly realized that I was beginning to feel my breakfast slowly rise in my esophagus. With trembling legs and a fragile stomach, I stepped in. Although I was entering somewhere new, it felt as though I had done this a thousand times before. The same things lay in front of me: beauty, excitement, passion, skill, and joy; however, this time I was not walking into the starting gate, but into the Operating Room. No longer was a steep slope of ice staring me in the face, but instead an unconscious stranger with his brain sliced open.
As Dr. Schwartz began to carve, my heart beat faster. My eyes were glued. The adrenaline flowed through my veins, as I took a deep breath and embraced the sweetest high. I inhaled the smell of burning rubber, watched smoke rise from the drill in the patient’s head, and then, I saw magic. I watched Dr. Schwartz excise the amorphous grey tumor from the man’s head, and witnessed what some people might call a miracle, the impossible, the destruction of evil. A high enveloped me that reached farther than ever before. As the adrenaline rushed into the waiting hollow, I felt infinite. I had clarity about myself and my future. Right there and then I decided that, one day, I too would achieve the power to wipe away the enemy that had struck down many of my loved ones. I discovered that my perfectly content place was not where I reached my greatest personal success, but where I could impact and change the happiness of others. At that moment I knew that I was where I belonged. I would be a junkie for life.