So while I was at work, I began contemplating a little bit.

In some ways, I feel that I’ve ultimately chosen the wrong hospital to work at, since we don’t have ANY fresh, young blood residents making rotations. They all go to Fairfax, GW, or Georgetown. Confound it all! Why must I swim against the tide??

Anyway, so there is a particular doctor who frequently makes his rounds on our unit. He looks to be in his late 40s, is happily married, and is starting to have some silver in his otherwise full head of dark hair. He’s a handsome, Richard Gere-esque looking, though somewhat vertically challenged Indian MD. He also tends to be the favorite of all the RNs because he used to buy the unit food all the time (before the economy became so terrible), and he always makes the time to have REAL conversations or joke around or help new nurses such as myself.

I was busily making a copy of some discharge documentation when I saw this doctor writing in another patient’s chart.

“Dr. McSteamy*, why are you so calm all the time?” I asked in a somewhat jokingly perplexed and yet genuinely curious way.

“Oh, it’s because I meditate.” He said so plainly, like playing jeopardy. He turned his rolley chair round to face me seriously.

“Meditate?”

“Yes, it’s very relaxing and I feel like I’m searching within myself. I have a sense of peace.” McSteamy smiles.

End of Real Conversation 1.

So I had another talk with him recently. This time I was looking for my patients’ charts to put in my nursing documentation while he had a pile next to him in order to write out his plans of care. I spied a few next to him and asked him if I could borrow them while I pulled up a chair.

“Are you a Christian or a Buddhist?” McSteamy has this way of asking personal questions like choosing ketchup or mustard. It kind of disarmed me so I didn’t feel scared to offend him in my reply.

“I’m a Christian.”

“Oh, and how was your Christmas?” He asked, and I get the reason for the question.

“It was pretty nice, I was working but my family waited for me to open presents, so it was okay.”

“I’m not a Christian but I still celebrate Christmas. I just like the spirit behind it– the giving, people want to do good and help each other.”

“I see.” I kind of don’t know what to say.

“Were you born into a Christian family?”

“I was raised as a Christian. My family is all Christian.”

“Do you believe it for yourself, that the Christian faith is the truth?”

“At first I was just raised to believe, but I became very convicted when I was in high school.”

“See, I think that’s great. I’m not religious– I don’t embrace one faith and go to Mass or Temple or services. But I am spiritual. Do you understand what I mean? I’m always looking for some deeper truth, some transcendent experience. Most people go along with what they’ve been told. Not many taste the water that they can describe from being taught. I want to experience that enlightenment that Jesus or Buddha might have felt– because then nothing else will matter in life, right?”

End of Real Conversation 2

In my mind, I do really look up to this doctor. I admire his spiritedness to seek the truth, and how he has eyes that see beyond what is currently present. That even though he’s married and 40 and spends all his days in the hospital from waking to 10pm, late hours when we’re able to have these real conversations, he still has this fervent hope and aspiration to reach a sense of transcendence. I think I’m looking for the same thing, but I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe it has to do with my heart first– my heart is wanting to prove myself as a nurse, as a musician, as a woman. I want to impress others, I want to be excellent, admired, I want to be SOMEBODY. My desires aren’t of the things that are far beyond our eyes, minds, comprehensions– I’m living in the present and my desires are in the present.

I want that gaze to be upwards, outwards.

And in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, Why are people like McSteamy already married? Why can’t I find somebody who is profound and young and single and committed and a really hot and successful doctor?

And a thought crept up that maybe it’s the women that they marry who help them to become the men they are. Maybe that special woman was able to see beyond a young man’s insecurities, fears, unpredictabilities of the future and choose to invest and love and care and nurture until he became the deeply sensitive, kind, and generous man that others can have real conversations with.

Is that what happened? If that’s the case, can I be that kind of woman? Can I see a seed rooted in foundational soil and pour my love to create something beautiful in my life, in his, in our childrens, in people we encounter?

*Original name replaced to protect the individual’s privacy.

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