Summit Reflections: Alex L.

Coming back from that whirlwind weekend of the Summit, which honestly already feels like forever ago, has me back here in New York with slightly darker circles under my eyes (probably because I’m no longer sleeping – who has the time when you can be thinking about life?!) but an infinitely brighter, and I’d say altogether different spirit. Now that this experience is vaguely starting to kind of barely not really sink in, I think I can come up with a reason why I could barely articulate what I was feeling at the meeting. I’m not sure how to make this not sound so cavalier but frankly it’s because all of my priorities and general perspective of/on/about/within life were shaken up and settled down in completely different places than where I had them set at my arrival to Evanston, which is a helluva lot to deal with and I’m just one person, sheesh!! But it truly felt like a kind of insanity for me, I experienced every emotion that we humans have a word for and probably even some for which we don’t. Not to mention that I was (and still kinda am) only thinking in fire metaphors, which is kinda scary, and it got to the point that I was so freaking pumped and rolling with the explosive mentality that I was almost convinced that I might actually light the whole University (or at least the Best Western) up like a firework. That’s just ‘cause everyone there was so darn electric and sparky. I’m laughing at how actually inarticulate and hyperbolic I’m sounding, which isn’t the best combination when you’re actually trying to describe something truly meaningful. But hey, Internet, you should’ve known that from the get go and besides, that’s what the world has Pamela for.

So the best word I can come up with for this experience is grateful – I’m so genuinely grateful that I could witness such a wide range of the human spectrum. It’s definitely so rare for so many aspects of the global health movement to mix together as it did like a giant jug of justice flavored jungle juice so luckily I came thirsty. From incredibly eloquent and moving keynote speeches with the Pamelas to messy, casual side chats with randos from other chapters, every minute was useful and amazing and I was there like a little barnacle, filter feeding it all until I was so physically exhausted that had to nap with Lillian.

Pamela and Franny. Franny and Pamela. Framela. Pranny. Whatever way you wanna put these two POWERHOUSES together is fine with me as long as you’re just there and willing to let them completely overwhelm you (I mean that in the best way). There’s really no better way to get to know either of them besides staying calm while they hit you like a ton of mf-ing bricks. As you’ll all know by the end of Tuesday’s event (and most likely way before), Pamela is incredible. By that I mean I would literally not be able to believe that such a wholly compassionate, wise, strong person even exists had I not sat as close as social norms allowed me to every night for a few hours – just listening. That’s really all it takes, to open up everything about you but your mouth. And for once, this is easier done than said because your mouth’ll be closed, right?

Not that this should be at all focused on me but if you quickly think of a noun that describes me I’m pretty sure that a crybaby generally wouldn’t be near the top of the list, but I swear, the opening line of Pamela’s keynote speech had my eyes wet and by the end of it I was sobbing like an actual infant. She makes words do what most people can only dream of. She takes the same ol’ boring English vocabulary that we all have and somehow transforms it into this living being that says exactly what needs to be articulated at exactly the right moment to exactly everybody on planet Earth. I had such a hard time dealing with this kind of transfixing, inspiring, raw and yet so perfectly formed speech that I had to call Liza with tears dripping everyone because I literally did not know wtf else to do with myself. After I brought the waterworks down to a more manageable trickle I gained a sort of love of tears as Pamela wiped my cheek and casually told me that “crying is relieving and it makes you strong.” If crying can give me any semblance of the strength that she has, y’all better watch out because my daily routine will now include cutting onions while watching The Notebook.

They’ve both taught me (by freaking EXAMPLE) that by being any combination of a bold, open, humble, vulnerable, conscious, active and reactive, straight up confident human you’ll end up in a very, very good place alongside some even better people who’ll be there to walk with you as you strive toward your goals.

Before the Summit I obviously liked GlobeMed, that’s why I was there, but now, liking it just won’t cut it for me. It just won’t. Maybe this is still just the afterglow talking, but if it’s not, and if I’ve absorbed even a trace of the verbal gold dipped in experience dipped in love dipped in wisdom dipped in golden gold that Pamela happily and graciously shared with us all weekend, I’ve found my life’s direction. Here’s kinda how I see it – pre-Summit I was a piece of this massive jigsaw puzzle that I knew vaguely looked like the public health world but was only really focused on the colors and shapes that made up my own personal piece. I think this mentality is an equally critical part of the journey, but my time in that stage is pretty much over and now I can see where my piece fits snugly in to the bigger, beautiful picture that people like Framela are helping create. I belong in this crazy, dynamic, tough, amazing, hope-driven fight toward global health equity and now that I’m home, it’s fucking go time baby.

If you at all feel like dancing in the rain I just showered on this page please, please, please go to the Summit or talk to me more about it or Google something, anything, just don’t do nothing.


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