November 1, 2012
On Thursdays, the Daily Voice showcases selected Thursday Morning Memos, reflective essays about clinical experiences written by faculty, alumni, residents and students of the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health and, occasionally, contributors from other departments. Thursday Morning Memos is UMass Medical School’s homegrown version of narrative medicine, in which the authors process their experiences through writing. To learn more, visit: http://www.umassmed.edu/news/articles/2011/personal_stories.aspx.
Stacy Potts, MD, assistant professor of family medicine & community health and director of the department’s Worcester Family Medicine Residency, aptly sums up what many of us strive for and struggle with daily. It seems that often as we try to please everyone, we short change everyone as well. Her focus on the process reminds me of a quotation I heard late one night on the radio from a jazz musician talking about his life and his pursuit of great music: ". . .all the way to heaven, is heaven . . ."—Hugh Silk, MD
In the comfortable taxi leaving Chicago, I began to reflect on the balance of life. It was my son’s ninth birthday and I had missed the opportunity to wake him with kisses for the anniversary of his birth. A mother’s guilt can be unending, but this day I considered the professional loss I felt as well.
For leaving Chicago on this beautiful fall day, I lamented that I would not hear the upcoming plenary. Nor would I enjoy another day of fellowship with new colleagues and friends. The speaker was sure to be insightful and inspiring, an important author I knew of well but had never met. The additional day of seminars would surely have energized me for the work ahead.
Perhaps true balance is not a destination to be sought but yet a journey of a gentle motion through our many roles. Regrets of choices made might weigh us down or burn us out, but we can only live each moment once and we should try to make the most of it.
Leaving Chicago, I was pleased that I had visited a city I love, developed new relationships and participated in an important and interesting conference. I was also happy with my decision to fly home on my son’s birthday to share a special dinner with him.
There is a joy to balance. It doesn’t mean I have everything I want all the time. It doesn’t mean that I don’t miss “important” things. What balance is for me is finding the joy in the moments I have, and being present just where I am.
When I arrived home, earlier than expected, I was welcomed with love, the best kind, unconditional. As we later sat down to dinner, “What was the best part of the day?” I asked as we do at each gathering.
“It was Mommy coming home,” they all quite atypically agreed. “What was yours, Mommy?”
Then, in unison, “Oh, let us guess—RIGHT NOW. Like always.”