To say that I and the people around me have had the year from hell is an understatement. I have been waging battles and battles have been waged against me. I have sought the counsel of friends, coworkers, partners, therapists, mentors, and career counselors. I have meditated, cried, prayed, run, screamed, and pounded my fists against tables. I have spent time in introspection, outer-spection (this should be a word), and around the block and down the street-spection. I have questioned God, the universe, my sanity, my purpose, and the laws of truth and fairness. I have spent many nights ruminating, contemplating, annihilating, vacillating, and capitulating.
And finally, however brief and fleeting it may be, I have a sense of peace. Whichever way this turns out, I feel a sense of calm. I have felt this before over the past year, but inevitably someone, something would go and muck it up. Whatever truce had been forged would be ruined by the distant gunfire of deceit. Waging battle means you have something to lose. Today, I don’t feel like I have anything to lose. There is a freedom in that. I have the sense that my toes are dangling on the edge of a cliff, the waters raging beneath, and I could swan dive into the depths of the ocean, perfectly, with the slightest ripple and splash as my feet enter the water like an Olympian. I rise to the surface, my face breaking through the imperceptible line between water and air, gasping in the salty oxygen, victorious.
I’m diving in. All in. I’m about to find out what I’m worth. Will I be bargain basement? Target? Neiman Marcus? Will I be on clearance or discarded at the Goodwill? Funny thing is, million dollar artwork has been found at the Goodwill. One man’s trash….
I know what I’m worth, that’s where the battle began. My worthiness (all of our worthiness) is not defined by dollar signs, but by integrity, work ethic, and the ability to give the absolute best without financial gain. Getting the best out of me does not increase with the size of the check. The best things from me happen when there is no money involved. Like this blog. Like teaching. Like phone calls to my patients. Like humor in the face of despair. The best things in me come out when no one is looking, when no one is paying attention.
I am at a crossroads. I have been here for longer than a year. I have stood, pacing back and forth, sometimes putting one foot to the left and walking a bit, then backtracking and going right. Sometimes going back up the main path, but never able to get back to the beginning for all the roadblocks in my way. I’m not scared. I have no fear. I know my worth and it can not be measured and it can not be bought.
A poem hangs in my exam room, one of my favorites, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. I thought I hung it there for my patients, but really I put it there for myself. It’s a reminder to follow my path, however strange and unyielding it may be.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.