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.’ .....
“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.
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.
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.
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?’
A phrase to change the world...
The most liberating thing I have learned in my life to date is the following phrase…..
Everyone is doing the best they can…if they could do better they would.
Thinking lightly about that phrase we often find ourselves viewing it with a degree of judgement, ‘I know Bob, and I have seen him do a lot better than he is giving me right now!’ or my personal favorite, the self-deprecating ‘Jeez you would think after so many years I would do that better than I did’. However, both of these miss the mark of what is being said in that small phrase., so let me repeat it to make it fresh for us all…