After a time of sharing with a dear friend about the writing residency I will begin in a few short weeks, I was overcome with emotion. Reality is setting in—the long-anticipated transition is no longer something safely in the distance—it is here now and feels decidedly more frightening than any of the steps leading up to it. Despite the deluge of anxiety that shook me in those moments, perhaps I can be confident this is the appropriate next step to take precisely because of this fear. Fear, after all, is inherent in risk.
Friends and family continue to affirm that my life is headed in a promising direction, that I am living my “best life.” All I feel I can honestly affirm in these moments, is that I am doing the best I can to take one faithful step after another, moving from the safety and security of the familiar to risk, faith, and joy.
And, damn, it is hard work. Coming face-to-face with long-standing fears embedded in the very fabric of my being is trying. Fears of inadequacy, uncertainty, abandonment:
“Who do I think I am attending an artist/writing residency? I’m not a writer,” my fear asserts, “and certainly, not an artist!
What am I going to do when I return?
How will I support myself?
Who will be there when I need encouragement and support?”
On and on the voice of my fear makes herself known… but unlike years past, I listen, allowing the tears to fall. I am scared, and rightfully so, taking a leap into the unknown. There is space for fear, and somehow when this space is made, I am more capable of choosing the path that leads to life. No longer captive to the suppression or oppression of fear, the path reveals itself.
In the midst of this, I have begun saying goodbye to patients whom I’ve worked with for months, some even years, and it is hard to articulate the gift that has been. It is the patients who animate my days. I know many of their quirks and delight in them. I know which exercises they like, and which they despise; I know if they need me because they tend to push past their limits or are fearful of doing so. I know their smile and the face of their pain.
As I say goodbye and wish them well, I feel like the recipient of blessing both for having walked with them, and, for their genuine expressions of gratitude and encouragement. My own sadness and gratitude grows as I realize that I will no longer be seeing these people who have touched my life, and I will miss them dearly. Not only this, but I will miss the family of co-workers with whom I’ve shared the past six and a half years. Many have come and gone, and they come to mind now, too… the beautiful people with whom I’ve had the privilege of becoming the person I am.
And now, it is my turn to leave. I leave, not as the anxious and isolated caricature my fear would have me believe, but as one who is more blessed and grateful than I can even begin to articulate.