I wonder how much value lies in the joy I find staring into my garden or purring with Sughar. I contribute nothing to society in these moments but they seem important all the same. Like many people, I spend most of my time attending to the needs of others, which I’m grateful to be equipped to do. With that said, I think there’s value in actively devoting myself to myself in a way that is not tied to my productivity. Sitting quietly and indulging in reflective thought is one of the elements that allow me the space to be all that my family, friends and patients need. I like to live life with a lot on my plate but it takes a toll and, while I believe in putting my own mask on first, I have to work hard at doing it without apology.
It’s not in my nature or my socialization to put my needs first — those come into focus once I’m convinced everyone else is okay. The truth is everyone is okay and no one is okay and very little I do can change either one of those things. I go into work with 32 patients on my schedule, many of whom need so much more than I can give in a 15 minute visit. Some days are smooth and uncomplicated and I’m satisfied with the care I am able to provide. Other days I feel the brokenness of our world so acutely that I lose the light.
I find it again in the little moments I am able to carve out for myself. I find it in turning the corner on Madison and seeing Mt. Rainier on a sunny day. I find it in the spontaneous smile I get sitting in traffic on the I-5 bridge at sunset, where I continue to be in awe of the beauty of the city I get to call home. I find it with a book and a cup of tea on my little porch that’s mine. The value of this time isn’t measured in dollars or deliverables, but in my continued ability to give of myself in a way that feels meaningful to me, even when it’s hard. In the words of T-dog Hanks: The hard is what makes it great. Poundsign blessed.