Dynamic Equlibrium


It’s one of the first “real” things you learn in chemistry. A lot of reactions want to be at a equilibrium… but what exactly does that mean? If you have a container of salt water and water separated by a semi-permeable membrane the NaCl ions that have disassociated will want to cross them membrane to create equilibrium ooohhHHH! ahhhhHHH! You probably learned this in like 4th grade, but what I learned in chemistry freshman year is that it is a dynamic equilibrium, meaning there is constant change. Sometimes a NaCl ion crosses so it becomes 51-49 but then a different NaCl ion crosses back to restore the balance.
But why does all of this overly verbose basic chemistry matter?
I’m trying to say that life comes with change, which seems scary, but is actually natural/healthy/beneficial/necessary. I have to remind myself not to get too comfortable, that being uncomfortable in new situations means I’m adapting and learning and growing as an individual. I am starting to apply this to work and life too: I hope that my career never becomes stagnant and I stop learning and improving as a doctor. I hope that I push myself to learn new skills and it’ll suck to be confused or to have to put in more work or to have to be the noobie but it’s how you get better.
A year ago I saw the 14th Dalai Lama speak and what I remember most clearly from his talk was this… “If you want to make life better, make changes. And if they don’t work, fuck it!” (That’s a direct quote, I promise.) I feel like his Holiness probably knows what he’s talking about and I concur, you gotta keep making changes if you want things to be different. Life is dynamic– it’s constant ebb and flow… constant give and take… and the best lives are those that are dynamic.

Five weeks have gone by so far in Madrid and my friends keep asking “How is it?” or “Are you loving it?” I’m expected to say yes. I’m expected to love every moment here because Spain is a Mediterranean idealized paradise but I’m learning that life is not about where you go it’s about who you go there with. Going through a breakup, not having my best friends nearby, and feeling like I’m missing out at Tufts has made my transition here very difficult but I try and enjoy what I can. I look forward to visiting new sites and eating incredible food but at the end of the day studying abroad hasn’t been what I expected. So what can I do? I can bail and complain and hate it here because it’s not what I’m used to or I can live a dynamic life and try and adjust. It’s just 10 more weeks until I go home and that’s a blessing and a curse. My time here will end. This isn’t forever and if I’m not loving that, knowing this can be comforting. On the flip side, time has been flying by here and if anything I’m motivated to try and spend more time out in the city exploring, drawing, eating, and talking to strangers.

Nathaniel Tran, Tufts in Madrid, Fall 2015

Nathaniel Tran, Tufts in Madrid, Fall 2015

I’m thousands of miles away from home, very very far out of my comfort zone, but this is a learning opportunity for me to grow up. I’m choosing to embrace the change and embrace this dynamic equilibrium because if I let the city change me, I’m sure wherever I end up 10 weeks from now can’t be that bad.

Sending peace and love from Madrid, hasta luego!

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