A New Path

There’s a look people get
when they’re about to die.

The moment I saw it in her eyes,
I remembered the others —

they’d been with me all along.
But I
was feeling the grief

for the first time. Maybe it was
the gentleness of allowing myself

to be injured; imperfect. It had
been a year since I was plucked

out of one life, dropped into
another, overnight. It was

liberating to leave behind
anxieties that had calcified

around me. They creep back,
occasionally, but I’m on a new

path. When I follow it, I feel more
alive, more vibrant in my practice.

Every person has a unique light
inside. “Who is this person?” —

No longer a cognitive question;
instead, a quest of heart,

for healing, through connection.
L o v e — part gift, part practice.

The more you give, the more
it grows. The more you practice,

the better it gets.

Notes from the interview that inspired this poem:

It had been almost a year since this physician started working in a COVID clinic. He told me he’d been on a spiritual quest–searching for a new path–for a long time. “I’m starting to feel alignment between my spiritual exploration and my clinical work,” he said. He told me he was practicing being more present with patients, and in doing so, was feeling more alive. He spoke about recent experiences with patients, and about the gratitude he felt for his team. “I’m learning to appreciate each person, each patient, for the unique light inside. I’m starting to ask different kinds of questions. I’m realizing that by acknowledging patients’ struggles and allowing myself to feel, I’m able to open the door for deeper sharing,” he said. He told me he understood these words on an intellectual level in the past, but he was beginning to develop an embodied understanding through practice, which was transforming his own experience as well. “I feel like I’m on a new path even though I’m doing the same work. I’m learning that love is something you can practice, and when you do, it gets better,” he said. “My kids are even giving me more hugs these days.”

Interviewee: Anonymous, Physician
Listener Poet: Jenny Hegland

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