NaBloPoMo 2017: Field Notes from a Life in Medicine
I generally dislike cold, damp, cloudy weather. I have survived this in Chicago the past 26 years, somehow, by grace. Usually the second half of fall just feels dreary, wet, and lame to me. And yet this season, on this drab day, I feel warm and happy inside more than last year.
Can’t say why, really. Another year older and wiser, perhaps? Maybe because the kids seem to have crossed some magical threshold on this side of which they seem suddenly much more mature and self-sufficient? I’m entering my fourth year in my current practice, which is the magic number for really settling in, it seems. With the patients I only see once a year, the third and fourth times bring a familiarity and rapport that can only come with time. It’s like catching up with old friends. I’m grateful for another year of watching my family grow and flourish. I’m grateful for my work, and the immense personal and professional fulfillment it affords me.
Two years ago for my first NaBloPoMo, I wrote November Gratitude Shorts. It was a spinoff from a Facebook trend in which my friends and I posted gratitude for something every day. Writing a couple sentences a day was fun and easy; converting those ideas to full-fledged blog posts proved more daunting than I had anticipated. It felt like a slog much of the time, though I did write some pieces that I’m still proud of. Last year I felt more relaxed, less pressured to write profound things. This year I’m actually having fun, though I can still only rarely make myself sit down to write before 10pm. That will be the challenge next year. I am grateful for the chance to practice my writing and share with a community of readers, writers, and friends.
I feel the holidays coming on, a little more acutely this year than last… It’s been a tumultuous year, no doubt, in so many realms. And yet we are all still here, relationships intact for the most part. And many of us, happily or begrudgingly, have learned a little more about our biases, our emotional triggers, our friends’ and families’ hidden beliefs, and similarities and differences we did not know we had before. The conversations continue, then maybe stop for a while. Emotions heat up, cool down, heat up again—and hopefully the connections remain or even grow stronger. I have hope that we can continue to do better, and I’m grateful that the trials of the past year have shown me what courage and resilience we have. I am grateful for the holiday season every year, and the chance to reflect and advance.
A friend told me recently about marriage advice he received when he was young. We get beyond infatuation and on to real love, he was told, through commitment. This past year I have seen myriad examples of people making meaningful commitments—to their families, to their core values, to their ideals, their aspirations, their fellow humans. The examples are everywhere, if we are open to seeing them. I am grateful for the persistence of humanity, and for our innate drive to connect.
The holiday season is upon us, and truly, I wish us all peace, love, and joy. I’m grateful to have so much to celebrate, so many to celebrate with, and so much to look forward to. May you feel and be moved by all that holds you up, this season and for all seasons to come.