April 7, 2016

Nature : Waterfalls

After days like yesterday when I wrote about dysfunction in my work, after one patient asked for a new provider after two minutes of speaking to me and another ripped up my business card, I think consciously about what calms me down, not just in single moments but in a sustained way.

For a lot of people, nature is a natural resource for this. For me it was something I came to in increments over the years, and I think that like almost everything else valuable it's a relationship that you develop. Despite growing up in California, I didn't grow up visiting the ocean or national parks. It wasn't until later in life that I discovered the wide open value of nature. Now back in the Bay Area after almost a decade on the East Coast, I find that this place is saturated with the love of nature.  In some ways, I almost miss how a little less accessible it was on the East--made more scarce by long winter weather and as a result by people accustomed to not being outside--because it felt rare and cherished.

One of my closest held memories of medical school out East comes from feeling this.  One of my close friends found that the best way to recover and escape from the stresses of schooling was to seek nature. He found a little-visited waterfall tucked away down a dirt road not too far from our town. By himself, with a friend, with a group of friends. A dozen of us would hang out and bring pizza and jump off the rocks, or just a few would sit without talking to see what happens when your goal is stillness. "Let's go to the waterfall," was our mall, our movie theater, our burger and fries. And it was our church, our yoga studio, our green smoothie.  Before we built all the things for our needs, we had this fulfilling all of them.

Connecticut, 2010
I suppose that everyone likes waterfalls, and before medical school I liked them too in that passing admiring way. But when this tiny space became a cove for us over and over, I grew to love them like they're the people who shared them with me.


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  2. I could use a good waterfall this week. Thanks so much for sharing. Let's go find one in May. I recently had a woman fire me the second I walked in the room actually: "I told myself if I had to see *you* today I would walk right out the door." And then she did. :) sigh.

    1. I can't imagine anyone not wanting you as their doctor! They have no idea what they're missing. Let's definitely find some in May that you can escape to. Love.

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