Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Permanent-ness and the Edge of the Clouds

That's a funny word- permanent. I've been thinking about that a lot tonight. In actuality, nothing is permanent except death. We can change our mind about anything at any time and that is ok. No one actually makes the rules, there are no rules except the ones we have for ourselves. Hmm.

I am not a stickler for rules per say, at least not dumb ones, but I do appreciate order. Chaos makes me shudder. Rules make the game even. I have been trying to play by the rules, yet continuing to lose. That is very frustrating. And it is burning up my emotional and psychological reserve. That is also frustrating, but I don't have the energy to care as much.

I flew home to visit my parents and family last week, amid the bubbling cauldron of chaos that has been my life this fall. I desperately needed the break, to get out of my situation and gain some perspective. The day we left Birmingham, it was raining and overcast, gloomy: an ironic reflection of how Birmingham has been for us since the beginning. But then a glorious thing happened.

The plane entered the clouds, swam around in the soupy haze, and after only minutes, emerged on that sunny side of the sky. It turns out that there is always a bright, booming sun just on the other side, even through thick, dark clouds. Who knew.

Once again, I am approaching a crossroads in my life, one I have been driven to by forces that seem all around me. But are they real? Are they permanent? Or did I make them up myself? Hmm. Unfortunately I don't think it makes my decision any more clear, but knowing that I have the capacity to see a situation for what it really is- I have to say, it is a morale booster. It is empowering. It is a burst of air for a drowning swimmer.

But for now, do I hunker down with my umbrella to wait out the storm, or do I get in the car and get out of town? As un-permanent as those wispy storm clouds are, so too are the clear bursts of sunshine. You can bet there is another squall line following along behind and headed your way. Hmm.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Middle Chapters

Several months ago, I started listening to The Tobolowsky Files podcast. If you are at all interested in, well, anything related to the human condition, be it funny, poignant, insightful, shocking, whatever - you should check this out. Stephan Tobolowsky is a character actor that has an extensive resume to say the least. You will know him when you see him. Ned Ryerson on Groundhog Day. Sandy Ryerson on Glee. Dude that turned stuff into gold on Heroes. Look up the rest on IMDB.

So last fall he started this weekly podcast about things, really unbelievable things, that had happened to him in his life. It is HI-larious. It is poignant and meaningful. It has made me think about a lot of things in life.

One of the stories he tells is about a young man with AIDS who promised his mother that he would write his autobiography. Except he had a dilemma. He knew how it began, and he knew how it would end, but he didn't know what would come in the middle.

This got me thinking about the middle chapters of my own life. I have felt so trapped in my situation at times in this past year, wondering how in the world I got here. It was so hard, impossible at times, and I felt as if there was no end in sight, no hope. But this thinking about The Middle actually gave me some peace.

I am so torn about what we will do next, where we will live, what job I will have. It is a near-constant irritating thought. But all the while, weeks and months and years are passing. I have to find a balance between the datebook and my life. I don't want to lose all my life in the chaos, simply because I was too busy planning it.

As hard as some times are, as magnificent as other times are, they are still only the Middle Chapters of this life. Their length we have very little control over, but their quality and substance we do.

So from here on out, it's carpe diem for me. At least for today.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Soul Cloud

I have not contributed to this blog in a long time. Looking back, its been since the move here. That would have been the last time I was frankly comfortable with revealing the state of things to the outside world. It was not a pretty start. But that is passed, and we have moved on. Tonight I sit at work, on call again, at the end of an emotionally gray day. Contrary to many days during fellowship, this was not a particularly bad day for me by most standards. Clinic was lighter than usual. I managed to dodge the escalating local drama, which typically captures me with tentacle-like strength. But my soul has still been heavy today for reasons that are not entirely clear.

I do not typically have the good fortune of time for reflection on my gray feelings. I just have to shove them back into the sock drawer of my soul, along with the other mismatched and misplaced parts of my life, to be sorted out at a later date. There has been a cloud over me today. It has been kept neatly in place above my head, in Pig-Pen and Charlie Brown style, by a series of high-pressure fronts coming in from all sides. They take the shape of a million parts of my life, from new diagnoses to old clinic patients with new problems to life-changing choices about the future. As I'm writing this, it's clear that I do not have words to acurately describe the pressure of my current situation. Any description can only appear trite and cheap, as the handfulls of metaphors that came before them. Here is just one more thing to add to my list of frustrations.

It has been very difficult to open up about how hard this year has been. I'm not sure why. There is very little that keeps me here, mostly that I'm so far in and the thought of starting over is excruciating.

What makes a fulfilling life? I used to know. I used to love my job, but it has been beaten out of me. I do not know if I will ever be the same person that I used to be, even after this year is over. I hope it will sort itself out, since I do not have the capacity to do it myself.