Let the journey be beautiful. Let there be meaning.

Yesterday I asked a friend, “Sometimes I hear people say, the purpose of life is to server God. But what does that mean?”

He said, “It’s important to understand the definition of serve and God. And here is my philosophy: God is in everything and everyone. Serving is helping. The purpose of my life is to help people around me. I want to help you, help Scott, help Olivia. It will be nice if you help me too (he laughed) but it’s not part of my serving or my purpose.”

I asked him about purpose. What if I can’t find one right now?

He said, “If we are supposed to have a calling, it’s important for the creator to be more specific about calling.” It was the strangest thing I’ve heard about this topic. As if, complaining to the teacher that the problem set is unsolvable – I never thought it’s an option. It thought it’s either I solve it or I fail to solve it.

He continued, “Let me give you an example. When I was in Wahoo, I felt a calling to come back to Seattle. And I did. That’s a specific calling. If the calling is not specific, it is too much burden for humans to seek and live by. ” Yes. That’s also the most basic meaning of calling – being called to do something.

Since we had the miscarriage on Jan.24th, I have been talking to a few friends. One of them encouraged me to think about the hard questions, such as what’s the meaning of this suffering? What’s the meaning of life? What’s the meaning of work? Who do you want to be?

These are not once and done questions. The answers to these questions change as we grow and as our circumstances change. They are not only difficult, but also powerful – and the power can be both positive and negative.

On a Tuesday night (Feb. 1st), I gave it a serious thought – who I want to be?

I thought about the different versions of answers I had in my past. I have wanted to be a prime minister when I was in elementary school. I wanted to be a well-rounded person when I was in high school. I wanted to be a management consultant when I was in college. I wanted to study and work in America in my mid-twenties. I have been wanting to be a writer and a commencement speaker since a few short years ago. Oh, and around my 20th birthday, when I was crazy in love with my second boyfriend. I wanted to be a cool mom. I wanted to marry young, having kid(s) young, doing cool things and receiving comments from strangers “Oh my goodness you don’t look like a mom to a X-year-old!”

I want to be a cool mom.

Instead of bringing me clarity. This answer gave me distress. I can’t be a mom and I can’t be cool. Different from other versions of answers, becoming a cool mom is not something I can work towards. Then who do I want to be in this in-between time before I can become who I really want to be?

I was soon overwhelmed by the desperation of not being able to become who I want to be and the pressure of coming up with a second answer, a back-up plan, a less-than answer that’s hopefully temporary and as short lived as possible.

I crashed into my husband’s arms and told him that I was falling apart, and I wanted to fall apart under his witness. Because this is how people grow – falling apart and getting back up. “I want you to see it and to be in it because I don’t want to grow apart from you.” He later told me that I was wise even under emotional distress, or I am good at motivating him to “work”.

It’s too much burden to seek for a calling for a lifetime. It’s too much burden to tie my identity to something outside of my control, or something I refused to admit being outside of my control. We did IVF. We got eggs, got embryos, got them genetically tested, got my uterus monitored, transferred the best embryo, got positive, darkening pregnancy tests at home, got positive pregnancy test from the lab, twice. I got sore boobs, frequent urination, fatigued, nauseous. Everything was exactly where they should be. Then there was no heartbeat at 7 weeks. Still no heartbeat at 8 weeks. Then I got a D&C on the same day when I was supposed to graduate from IVF and check in with my OB. The most common reason for miscarriage is embryo abnormality. With a normal embryo and my health condition, my IVF doctor was also surprised that it didn’t work.

It’s too much burden, dear myself. The creator (I am not sure who that is. For the moment, I would say they are my mom and dad) would not put me under that kind of burden.

Who do I want to be? Well, here are my new answers:

  • I want to be a mother eventually. It may take one year, two years, a few years. And during that time…
  • I want to be Xiaolu Schissel. Yes I will change my last name.
  • I want to be a “new” friend to my friends and families who have suffered, and are suffering from the most unbearable pain, a new me who gained new understanding about their world.
  • I want to be a writer. I want to publish my first book and start writing my second book. I want to continue posting blogs.
  • I want to be a positive contributor to humanity. For example, today I got my husband Valentine’s Day present and told him I love you. I will send pictures of what I eat to my dad (before him sending me the next “Have you eaten?” which in Chinese culture can mean everything from “Hi” to “I love you and I miss you and let’s chat.”) I will do work that helps my team. I will continue pondering how I can help people – maybe collect data and write about IVF? Maybe explore if my skills are helpful in advancing genetic testing and personalized medicine?

Some people don’t speak English. Some people only speak English. Some people were born without legs. Some people were born with a conjoint twin. Some people can’t find love. Some people can’t be happy. Some people have cancer. Some people had cancer. Some people regretted getting pregnant. Some people can’t “just get pregnant”. Humans have existed in all kinds of conditions.

The other day I read a quote “The worst thing that can ever happen to you is just a feeling.” The author is by no means intended to diminish the significance of “feelings”, being it physical or emotional feelings. It was such fresh air to me after hearing so many “Let yourself grief. It’s ok to be sad.”

Our worldly experiences (or other-worldly experiences) are all in our mind. Coincidentally, the things in our mind are also the only things within our control (arguably, if we are good). I hope this realization gave you the superpower booster shot as it gave me.

road near hills
Yorkshire, UK

And I am telling myself, the days on this journey of life carry overwhelming joy and gut-wrenching pain. But there can be beauty and there can be meaning. They are not on me to define and create when I feel that I cannot. Make a one-day plan and whisper,

“Let the journey be beautiful. Let there be meaning.”

One thought on “Let the journey be beautiful. Let there be meaning.

Add yours

  1. Hi Gloria, I feel your pain. I do. I had a miscarriage last year. It was devastating. I doubted myself in every aspect possible, from an abortion I chose years ago, to the Covid shot I got before getting pregnant. The whole process lasted more than a month which at that time seems endless (it started with medication and then eventually ended up in D&C). But then we do have hope, and life. While still trying, I enjoy camping, hiking, skating, skiing, having a drink with friends, you know, things you might need to give up when you are pregnant. I hope you will get better soon, and enjoy life as much as possible. Hope we will both have good news soon!


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