Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Journey is the Destination May 9

May 9, 2009

The journey is the destination.

I am anxious as I am leaving. I say goodbye to Maya at her ballet class. Her hair is tightly wrapped into a bun and she has gelled all the wispy strands away, so I expect her to look severe, but her features are soft and I ask for a hug. She has been snuggling with me all night; I am not sure when she came into our bed to squeeze between Eric and I, but she is there in the morning. I am up early and am curious that I feel as good as I do. Eric drove home from Montreal yesterday, the Subaru packed tight with Tara's college life. I waited for his arrival and stayed up late with him. Tara remained in New York, finally enjoying herself with her friends and everything that New York has to offer. I wonder that she has been so unhappy for the two years that she has been there. Odd that now that she is leaving she can appreciate it. I talked to her today and she sounded content, perhaps because she met a nice boy yesterday.

Maya was up early too. She wants to be ready for her ballet practice. she is so enthusiastic about her performance. She has a rehearsal almost daily these past weeks, and she does not want to miss any of it. She likes the discipline and the group dynamics and she likes being good at ballet. She had to maneuver between ballet and orchestra practice,being at both places at once. She performed in a concert today and I am anxiously awaiting a recording of her group. I have heard her orchestra play almost weekly and have been amazed at how wonderful they sound.

I have a difficult time leaving Maya and Eric. I wish we could all be on this particular adventure together, but Eric has no interest in traveling without a purpose, and he has much to accomplish before our move to Ecuador. We have had two home visits from potential buyers/renters and more planned for Sunday. The house continues to be a work in progress, and Eric has an endless list of tasks he is committed to. Not that I do not have an equally monstrous list, but I choose to take a break for a few days, perhaps not a choice really, I am in desperate need of breathing space.

I am so unaccustomed to being alone and quiet with my thoughts. That will be a challenge in Ecuador as well. Maya will be at school and Eric at the university and Tara volunteering, and I will have to find a way to be without working and accomplishing and giving and doing. I have worked almost daily as a psychiatrist for twenty-six years. Of course I take time off and travel and play and exercise and visit with friends and family, but all my activities are framed by my work and my patients, who welcome me after every weekend or time away. My work is an anchor and a tether and makes my life purposeful and directed. I imagine this is a concern for those to retire. How can I maintain purpose and direction without the profession that defines me? Of course I am also a wife and mother, and those roles are as significant as my role as a physician. When I first started telling people about what I would be doing in Ecuador, I would present a long list of activities and interests. I wanted to do something valuable and contribute during my year away. Lately, though, I have been curious about my need to convince others and myself that I will be doing something valuable and measurable. I could not just say that I was taking a year off to accompany my husband and child to Ecuador. As if by not working or pursuing a big project, I would lose my value. It will be interesting to see who I am when I am no longer 'Dr. Richter'...

Without my profession and without my income, I wonder who I am. Funny how we are defined by what we do and how much money we make. I think I will be fine, but perhaps I will be quite a different person when I return in a year.

This is the journey I am on. Learning about who I am now and who I will be in the coming months.

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