February 5, 2019

Healing in 2019

In 2017, my general philosophy was to do everything I loved as much as I could. I went all in, without too many defined goals other than to take advantage of time and space that I'd been missing up until then.  In 2018, after all this exploration, my word for the year was to be "navigation."  I wanted to clarify and sharpen, give myself more direction.  It sounded like a good transition from all the experiences in 2017--take what I saw, select what I needed.  Then 2018 turned into a string of one challenge after another, in which I had to adjust and arrange myself in ways I never had before.  There was less room for maneuvering toward one direction, and more investment in preventing a crumbling of what I'd built up until then.  I didn't so much navigate as much as I skittered up, down and around to get back to baseline.

I wrote about some of the many ways I felt broken this year in the most personal post I've published here.  (Thanks to everyone who reached out and responded so kindly).  I felt good at that time, and shortly afterwards, became overwhelmed by a stacking of minor merging difficulties. The holidays tend to be a hard time for our patients, many of whom don't have any family and many more who don't have the resources to fund the cheer we're told we should have and is particularly hard to find in winter. While my issues in no way compare to not having a support system during a season in which we celebrate relationships, the end of 2018 felt really rough.

I realized this was due to fissures in the relationships in every area of my life.  Within my family, the backbone of everything good I've been given.  Within my friendships, wherein lies the unique ability to grow in parallel.  Within romantic relationships, in which I've trusted to help me expand no matter how they end.  Within work, a community of co-workers and patients that calls me to my favorite quality of endurance. And within my relationship with myself, one that I used to rely on for a full acceptance no one else can really provide. 

Through this, I've depended a lot on endurance.  I choose so much of what I do based on the need for stamina and resilience, because I value that so much.  But this year, partly due to this mindset and partly due to the pace at which things happened (one after another), I forgot that endurance requires recovery.  Generally, I immediately want to keep going.  While there is a lot that benefited from this (I don't at all regret climbing in my cast), there is a lot that I would have liked to tended to more carefully, more slowly.  And maybe that's why everything at the end of the year hit me so hard, so fast.

So in 2019 I would like to focus on healing from everything in 2018.  Recently, I've realized in practice (instead of just in theory, which I've always known) that relationships take deliberate effort and if I want to heal them, it needs to be intentional.  I formed my resolutions, though they might seem unrelated, in ways to give me the room to do this.

Projects: I've divided these into what I'd like to do in quarters of the year, so that I don't feel like I need to tackle it all at once.
  • Second: Get a camera and take pictures.  My friends from college and med school know that I used to take a ton of pictures, and my last real camera is the SLR I used for years back then.  I I haven't touched that camera in a couple years, mainly because I now rarely travel other than for climbing and bringing a heavy camera is difficult and because climbing photography relies a lot on technique.  I'm not so much into technique as composition and I'd like to get a new camera to get back into that mode of framing.
  • Third: Write more, privately. Most of the writing I do now is here, and I'd like to get back to more personal writing. I think it'd increase my volume and reflection, and push me to flesh out a lot of what happened last year, and in all the years.
  • Fourth: Get a new bike and...bike.  This is the hardest project, because I'm so bad at biking. But I like the idea of doing something you enjoy despite being bad at it, and of having an activity I can do for a long time in between giving my body a break from running.
Space: These have to do with making more room for myself, more empty space so that things can arise on their own and so I can actively consider them.
  • Consume less and waste less.  I'm like to try to plan ahead enough such that I don't have to buy anything from Amazon, and I want to continue not buying any clothes except anything needed for exercise or to replace something I use often.  This includes shoes, which if you know me, know this will be the hardest part for me (luckily 3 of my 4 ankle boots are worn out so I'm letting myself replace a pair).  I'm going to buy all my books from an actual bookstore (easy since I'm currently in love with Pegasus), and would like to use up all my groceries (difficult because I'm not so creative or disciplined when it comes to cooking).  I've generally been good about using up the big things, but I want to be more attentive to the smaller items, so that I'm not throwing away lemon wedges and slivers of ginger and half cans of tomato paste.
  • No phone at work, and no phone for an hour before bed. Most people who know me know that I don't have wireless internet at home, and while that helps keep me disconnected in some ways, it does mean I use my phone a lot.  While I love that my phone allows me to connect to my friends and family wherever we are, I also see that my desire to constantly stay connected and responsive in all directions can damage the individual relationships.
  • Spend one weeknight to myself without plans.  I'm lucky to have people I love to see and activities I love to do, but filling up my entire week can mean I have less presence for those people and activities. 
  • See and talk to my family more.  My family has always been the most enduring, stable part of my life, and this year I've had to face its multi-dimensional fragility.  Through that, I've learned that it is up to me to strengthen my relationships, that I can't rely on an assumption that they will just be there.  So aside from physically building this structure, I'd like to see my parents twice a month and talk to one of my brothers on the phone once a week.
  • Practice nonviolent communication.  I read this book, and I want to use it to strengthen the communication and empathy in all the relationships in my life.
  • Be giving even when disappointed or hurt. This is probably the hardest of all the goals for me. I've talked before about how it's easy to make giving a goal, when I feel like so much has been given to me in terms of circumstances and community.  In the rare times when I feel like something has been taken or my expectations haven't been met, it's harder to be kind.  But maybe more important.
My Body: 
  • Run. This is pretty easy because I love running and hated not running last year.  It may have seemed that not climbing was the hardest part of injury last year, but I also really missed and craved running, because running for me is very unconditional and independent of people and circumstances.  I don't ask myself for much from it, other than to do it.  So regardless of how slowly or how far I go, it's almost always easy and welcoming.
  • Climb hard and take risks without seriously injuring myself.  This mantra can kind of apply to everything in my life.  I have to admit that all the breaks (physical and otherwise) this year have made me scared in a way I haven't been before--more scared of taking falls while climbing, more scared of trusting myself and other people in interpersonal dynamics. I want to continue getting over that fear, while not hurting myself too much in the process (knowing that some level of pain is an integral part of this process).
Thanks to 2018 for paving these goals.

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