Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Definition and Redefinition

Working a few hours at the community health center in the city yesterday was a good reminder of the things I do and don't like about my current career trajectory. Spending a half-day helping out in my old office also solidified those stark reminders of why I eschewed full-time work four months ago.

Quietly observing my colleagues, I watched as everyone seemed to be running around in circles of frustration and habituated action. Paperwork flew as harried notes were written and typed, prescriptions proffered and recommendations made. Med refills, telephone calls, follow-ups, appointments and prescriptions devour the minutes of everyone's day, and I certainly did not see many happy faces in the course of my work day.

Driving home, I remarked to my wife Mary how I do indeed miss intellectually stimulating interactions with my favorite doctors, and I also do sincerely miss some of the personal connections that I had with a few very special patients. Still, that life now seems to be fading further, and I practice letting go over and over again when I pass through the office or the health center as a per diem nurse. It is a deeply personal process, and my own self-definition is still very much in flux.

As I try to define who I am professionally in the world---nurse, healer, writer, blogger, consultant---I'm struck by how those definitions themselves feel limiting. My identity as a nurse is still quite firmly front and center, and "writer" now feels more real than ever. But there is more to me than those two words, and this mid-life period of redefinition (but not "crisis", mind you!) is a rich time of seeking and asking. As for the answers, they are slow in coming, and the more I grasp for them, the further away they seem to recede.

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