Live life fully, without guilt or struggle...
How often have you found yourself running into the same problems again and again. New places, new faces, same old habits... You work hard to change but it seems elusive... It doesn't have to be this way...
All photography provided by Gil Grimes
There is a certain simple pleasure to the process. Taking time out of the day to sit down and compose my thoughts. To prepare the space, selecting the paper, choosing a pen, and then placing the pen to the paper. Watching the ink flow from the nib across the page as my thoughts are translated through the subtle movements of my hand into words flowing through ink. The sounds of the nib on the page, the slight scratch, the way the paper grabs at times against the tines of the pen. It requires a bit more concentration, I have to be mindful of my thoughts as I write so that they do not outrun the pace of my pen. I have to hold those thoughts as I reach for a new page. These are all the little moments that make writing by hand such a pleasure.
Fresh snow blankets the world, the wind was absent last evening as it fell, so it come straight down, settling into fluffy piles upon the surfaces. Every branch has become a small shelf allowing the snow to rest for a while, the spruce trees with their small, tight leaves hold the snow so well among the branches, each one piled high with snow, undisturbed. The lower branches are weighted down, touching the drifts that lay below. In this space, there is a silence that is felt, the sounds of the world further away as these heaps of snow slow and muffle the noises of life beyond the pasture edges. It is a silence I have felt before, in other settings, in other places, but it always brings the same sense of peace when it is here.
In the moment, she asks me to feel into the place where the longing lives, where the desire to reach out to others arises. I find myself moving my right hand to reach toward someone who is not there, reaching for something that is elusive, something just out of reach. Drawing my attention to the feeling, she asks me to stay with the longing, to sink into it, let it fill me up, let it flicker to life within me in a deep way. I notice the ache in my heart for comfort and love, the ache in my heart to be held close, and the voice in my head tells me it is not possible. Skillfully she notices that change, asking me about this voice, she offers to say those words out loud so I can study them more closely. Hearing those words shifts the longing to a deeper place, and unconsciously my hands begin to cradle my face.
My heart tapped upon my shoulder this morning, asking me to get up earlier than usual, it had something important to show me. I tried to ignore the request, but it was being asked with such yearning, I found myself getting up and walking down the stairs. The alarm that would wake me was still several hours away, the house was in that deep quiet darkness, when the moon has set, and the sun is still hours from rising. Sitting on my cushion, turning my attention in, a longing within me began to grow, so I settled to listen to the story that my Heart had to tell.
“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
I am struck by the honesty of this quote, there is a deep truth within this understanding, there is a fear in moving, edging closer to the deep truth that lays within us all. This has been the 11th block of a 15-block training in Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy, and as per usual, I am sitting at the Newark Airport feeling a little shaken up by the process.
Lately, I have been seeing a lot of writing from Pamela Wible MD and today I re-read her article about doctor suicides. This time in the Washington Post. As I read through these articles, and reflect upon how medicine has changed during my lifetime, I am struck by the degree to which I have seen the humanity scrubbed out of the system. I think about the times during my career when I thought, ‘you know, it is not worth it anymore to do this, I should just go.’ .....
The sky is so blue when the storm has passed. It is clear in a way that it never seems to be on normal days. When it is cold, deeply cold like it is today, it is as if nothing can be in that air other than the blue. There is a deep beauty to this kind of day, you have to take a moment, slow down, and let it unfurl before your eyes. It is funny, I did not used to look at the world with this set of eyes, and they seem to grown in clarity over the last year, as my vision has slowed down, the clarity with which I see has changed.
“He had great faith in you, and you let him down…” These words landed, heavily, in the middle of my chest. These words brought pain, they were a tool to bring pain, and they did their job well. I cannot know the state of mind within the one who spoke those words, but I imagine they came from a place of great worry, great pain, and great anger. I have spoken words like this myself on occasions, more than I would care to remember at any given moment, and when I have used words like this with others, they were designed to hurt. It is from this place of seeing the pain, that I began to wonder about why anyone would choose to be a physician, and I realized it’s because no one really knows what they’re saying yes to when they pursue this career.
And so, I find myself wondering what to write in this missive. The year has been good, full of love and learning, growth and understanding, and yet in this moment, we are sad, we are mourning, we are dancing with grief. It is strange how a recent event can colour the feelings that you carry for a year, how a single moment in time can mark that year in your mind, how a single event becomes the moment that may name that year. It happens all the time… oh, that was when Sam was born, that was the year I started medical school, that was the year we got married, the year when grandmother died, these single moments are large enough in our psyche that they colour the memory of the year.
Sometimes we are simply too close to be able to see clearly, it is as if our breath fogs the glass we want to look through, we need to get some distance. Is this a good thing or is this a bad thing? it is hard to know. As I look back on life, I look back on things that in the moment seemed terrible, but as I reflect on them from where I am now, the view is so much different. I remember clearly the scene from “the dead poet’s society” when Robin Williams asks the students to stand up on their desks to change their point of view. As I look across my life, I realize I am moving from desk to desk to desk, and looking around, and the view, is always, different.