I start this post in the few minutes before I NEED to leave for work. I start it knowing I should be driving. I write because I feel compelled and in the often silence of my existence, in between when my house returns to a home, when my sons come back on Wednesday afternoon, I feel this squeeze. The squeeze is nothing new. It is the juggle of all that needs to get done, all that I want to get done, all those dreams I dare to dream and all the fundamental requirements for daily existence. It is a finely choreographed spectacle that teeters on a tightrope. Sometimes it is elegant and amazing to watch. Other times it is a bloody mess. Always, for me, it is a nail biter. I am a juggler. It is a skill. Some people aren’t jugglers. But I am not sure I asked to be a juggler. I know there have been times I wanted to stop juggling. I have even asked to be let go, begged for reprieve. I read some of Andre Agassi’s memoir. He talks about how much he loathed playing tennis. Imagine! Watching him, seeing his skill and finesse, who could have thought he did not have a passion for the game? He certainly had drive. But the fuel in that engine originated somewhere else: and external combustion engine. So young and without any vote, he was given a mantle. It can take years to unshackle oneself from the yoke of a life or an endeavor that feels a prison. Hopefully, escape does not require the self-destruction of Andre Agassi or Tiger Woods.
I wrote the above paragraph in the five minutes before leaving to work. I wished I could have stayed home and written all day. Writing is such a luxury of late, I have been so blocked I couldn’t write a grocery list. So to have a flare of inspiration, I want to capture it, tend it or at least bank it.
Instead, I rush to work. And as always, the rhythm of my morning is absolutely and 100% rewarding. No matter what is going on in my life, I have always been able to set it aside when I knock on the door and enter the exam room. I shed all of my own stuff and focus on the other person. I listen. I ask. I decipher. And they tell me what I need to hear. I am privileged to be given a window into people’s lives and loss and fears. And I get a reprieve from my own world. Somewhere in the divestiture of myself, in the process of being the doctor, I gain some space. I get elbow room. The squeeze lets up. By not being so self absorbed, I stop feeling so overwhelmed. And I can breathe again. In serving others, in the empathy for others, I forget to feel my own fear…and the fear evaporates, like the moisture from a clothesline full of sheets and towels. Leave them alone and hours later, they are dry and ready to be folded and put away.