What the heart wants and what the mind thinks it can do are sometimes two totally different things. Allow me to tell you a short episode from the other night. If you’re friends with me on facebook, you may already have seen this, so I apologize to those of you in that category.
The other night, I was driving home from having dinner with a friend in town. As soon as you drive out of town, it’s quite dark. The national recreation area is what they call a dark sky area, so there are no street lights and such like you would find in a city. It can sometimes make things feel pretty desolate, honestly. But, that night, I saw an animal in the middle of the road. It looked like it was just sitting there, but it was a jack rabbit. They don’t sit in the middle of the road and wait for cars to come by. They get the hell out of dodge and fast! So I knew that it must have been at the very least, injured. I quickly pulled over and turned around to try to take a look at it. Cars were coming along and I somewhat hoped that if it was injured, that someone might strike it so it would die quickly and not feel any pain. You see, out here, it’s not like there is an emergency vet I can take it to within a few minutes. The local vet isn’t open on weekends and the closest vet (even for domestic animals) is in Flagstaff, which is about 132 miles away. I don’t even know if they take wild animals. Best Friends is about an hour away, but I doubted that someone was there after 10 pm at night. (Actually, it would be even later them as Utah follows daylight savings time and Arizona does not.)
Anyway, the cars came along and I saw that the jack rabbit didn’t move, so I went up to it to see if it was dead or not. It seemed to still be breathing – I could see its mouth opening and closing and I put my hand over its heart and it was beating, and fast. I was worried I might be stressing it out even more – after all, they are prey animals and are wild. They’re not used to human contact. But I knew I couldn’t just leave it in the middle of the road. So I picked it up and carried it over to the side. I had left my car lights on, so people would know that there was a human there, and slow down, and so that I could see the animal and know its condition.
Something in me just knew that it was not going to be long for the animal. I saw the blood on its ears, and the way that it let me pick it up. Its mouth kept opening and closing, much like the little bird did that died on my patio last week. I tried to comfort it, talking to it, and telling it that it wasn’t alone, slowly stroking its fur. I kept touching the area above its heart so I would know if it was still beating or not. I felt helpless, knowing I couldn’t do anything to alleviate its suffering. And at this point, I knew. I knew what I really want to do. I have decided to go to vet tech school. Some of you may think I’m insane for wanting to do this at my age, 43. I know that jobs with wildlife can be fewer and further in between than working with domestic animals. I know that I would be happy working with either one. I feel that in my heart. I know I won’t make a lot of money. I’ve made peace with that. I’ve never wanted for much, I just want to be able to put a roof over my head and food on the table, or as my friend back in Boston says, bowls on the floor for The Herd. A friend recently said to me on facebook (thanks, Gail!) that I might do well with hospice care for animals since I am very good with the seniors and special needs animals. Between that comment and dealing with the death of these animals lately, it’s just got me to thinking…maybe I should just go for it.
Now, how to realistically make this happen? Well, my plan is to take some prerequisite classes that I likely need, like Bio or Chem, or Eng 1101 (believe it or not on that last one) through Central New Mexico’s Community College, and do it as a distance learning class. Their credit hour cost is extremely low – $52/credit hour!! I would also need to take a math class, I’m sure, as it’s been about 20 years since I took stats in college, but hey, maybe they would take that stats class as transferred credit? One can only hope, right?
I also figure that since I am thinking about doing this a year out in advance, I will have time to research scholarships and start applying for them. I remember listening to a podcast, Listen Money Matters, and they interviewed a girl who had basically funded her entire college experience through scholarships. Her website is Debt Free College Grad.
I think I have a good story to tell in case scholarship applications require essays. I wouldn’t be your average student seeing as I graduated from high school years ago and a lot of people don’t go to law school and then years later, decide they want to work with animals. At least, I don’t think they do. In fact, one of the scholarships I saw listed today is about how you define success. I think I can definitely speak to that topic. 🙂
I’ve already come across the site, Fastweb, which has a huge database of scholarships. (However, after perusing Shanice Miller’s site, I see she calls it “frustrating.” So far, it’s not to me.) Another advantage to setting up a profile on that website is that you can see what others have said about attending that college and from what I saw, the reviews of CNM are pretty positive. If any of you know of any other databases like that, please let me know as I’ve just begun searching! Thank you in advance!
A friend asked me if I was sure about this – it might mean taking on more debt. But I hope not. I hope I can get enough money from scholarships, and as one of my blog readers keeps reminding me, there are lots of extra ways I can make money (I’m listening, Jerry, believe me.) I just need to believe in myself and my abilities. Sometimes the heart and the mind are not in sync, and sometimes they are. I’m gonna stay positive on this one.
As always, thank you so much for reading!
7 thoughts on “What the Heart Wants”
Such an inspiring post. I’m sure as well that the jackrabbit was grateful for your presence. I truly believe animals understand our intention, so having you there meant it wasn’t alone.
Just this week I too decided to apply to go back to university, something I wanted to pursue 12 years ago and have only just built up the self belief to think it is something I could do. It’s amazing that you’re following your heart, your love for animals shines through in your writing and I feel you’ll be an amazing vet tech.
Love reading your posts, as always 🙂 thank you for this one.
Sal, that is wonderful news about your deciding to go back to school. What have you decided to pursue?
I think and hope they know too – I definitely feel that way about my pets – that they know the meaning of my words and movements toward them. Thank you so much for saying that about my writing about them. This was one of those posts that just flowed out of me as soon as I started writing. It was one that I felt had to come out. I know you know what that is like.
Terri, do you read Interstellar Orchard? This blog is written by a gal who was a vet tech, but has since gone full time in her Casita and pickup truck. Interstellarorchard.com will take you to Becky Schade’s blog. Maybe you could strike up a friendship with her to get some pointers. She is about to start a stint working at Amazon, so will probably have little free time here pretty soon.
Yep, I love Becky! I’ve been reading her blog for a few years now and we’ve been in touch via facebook too. She’s amazing.
So sorry about the jackrabbit . . . I too have wished for a swift ending to their suffering. I like that you stopped to take him off the road. I do this just to give them some speck of dignity at the end of life . . .
Best of luck on your path back to school. I do not have any words of wisdom. I’ve never stopped going to school and pay full pop at our local community college. Our local vet paid a percentage of one of his employees education to get her vet tech degree. Perhaps that could be one thing to explore. xxoo
Like you, Darris, I love learning. I don’t ever want to be stagnant in what i know. And yes, I did that to give the jack rabbit dignity. No one should have to die and then be run over again and again and again. I think when I move to ABQ (I’m pretty certain I will like it and I know the vet tech program there has a good reputation), I will try to get a job in a vet’s office if I can, even as a vet receptionist. If I can’t do that, then I’m also willing to work in a petco or petsmart. Someplace where i”m not super stressed during my work day so that I can then concentrate on studies. When i was a librarian and also going to school, it was like, mentally, I never got a break for my mind to just relax. I’m sure you know what I mean.