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
He is watching me as I go about my morning. I can feel him just below the surface, noticing what I am up to. He is ever curious, this little one, and lately he has not been far away. I can hear his questions about what I am doing, why I am doing it, and what it all means. He is always asking ‘Why?’ and as often as I can, I work to answer his questions. He did not used to visit me at all, and for the longest time, I did not know he existed.
What else can you do… It is here already, and it will be here for some time. I can either turn and face it or attempt to ignore it, either way it will influence me. And so, I decide instead, to observe how it dances across my life in this moment, this grief that I feel so deep in my heart. It has been not even a week yet, and already this grief feels like it has been here forever. I watch how I must be careful so that I can act and interact with people without spreading grief far and wide. I notice how my reserve, my wellspring of compassion, is somehow more shallow these days, no doubt a side effect of using this reserve, this compassion upon myself and my family. It is an interesting experiment, this watching, and it is teaching me so much.
Something was missing as I walked in to the house, something was just not right. It took me a moment as I closed the door to realize, my greeter was not present, and then I remembered, she would not be coming to see me any longer. Her time with us had come to an end, and in that moment, the sorrow that had been lurking near the edges of life came in the door with me and settled into my heart.
There she was, it had been so long since I had caught sight of her, I wasn’t sure at first if I recognized her, she had changed so much over the years, or had I? She was peeking around the corner checking in to see how I was doing. I am surprised she still visits me, after the way I treated her all those years ago. If I let myself, I can easily remember those days. Those had been rough days, when it wasn’t safe to have her around anymore.
What would they do if I told them the truth? How would they see me? How would they think of me? Would I be disgusting to them? These thoughts swam through my head as I sat in front of Melissa, our trainer, for a demonstration. It was the start of our weekend Hakomi training and my mind was seething with all the possibilities of what might happen. Behind my eyes there was a push to simply tell it all, leave no secret unsaid, and let the chips fall where they might. Then there was the catch in my chest, the fear of what would happen if I just did this, if I just disclosed all my shame. In the end, I censored what was presented during the demonstration, but in her eyes, I could tell that Melissa had seem so much more than I had said, her tears reflected what was in my heart, unspoken in that moment.
‘How did you know what to say to her?’ asked the resident, ‘We have been trying to figure her out all morning and have gotten nowhere.’ An expression of mixed curiosity and frustration crossed her face. ‘I try not to focus on how she is acting, as much as I try to talk to the part of her Jesus would love’, I found myself answering. This catch phrase would find its way into conversation regularly during the years of teaching, it captured a concept I had struggled to teach prior to that moment of insight. The concept of connection, it is one of the most difficult things for doctors in training to understand. Years of training make this more difficult, training that does not focus upon the human connection, instead focusing upon the biological working of humans.
Why? I am sure if you were to ask my parents, they would tell you that this is the first word that I ever said. It is certainly the most common word that comes to mind, and out of my mouth on any given day. It has been this way for as long as I can remember and it continues to fuel my searching to understand the world in which I live. Simon Sinek has become famous for looking at this, and lately I have found myself delving ever deeper into this fundamental question of ‘Why?’
I did not need help. I could do it myself. I never asked, and anyone who worked with me for any length of time quickly understood that they did not need to ask either. This was my modus operandi. This was how I unconsciously organized my life, and it was no more in my conscious awareness than the steps needed to ride a bike, or tie my shoes, chew gum while walking, it just happened in the background all day long, completely unknown to me for many, many years.
It was an ordinary evening, we had enjoyed a lovely supper, and were engaged in the after-dinner discussion of the day. There was nothing to foreshadow the bomb that was coming my way… ‘you know’ said Nancy, ‘you left Texas to come someplace new…. And to do something different than you were doing in Texas… but it looks to me like you have recreated that life on PEI….’ She was right, and it had not even taken two years. I had come with the dream of finally setting boundaries between my work and the rest of my life, and finding balance between the two. I had walked away from the busy academic career to restart my medical practice and ‘get it right’ this time. But here I was, once again doing what I had always done…. Filling my life so completely that there was no room for all of it and certainly no room for anything else, medicine had once again taken over.
What a gift it is to be seen, really seen, in a way that nourishes you deeply. It is a gift that everyone desires, but funny enough, we never seem to put it on the list for Christmas. It is something that we want so deeply that we may not even be aware of our longing until it is met, and then, in a rush of deep appreciation we feel what has been missing for so long that we forgot it had been lost.