Over the last 6 weeks treating in the clinic here in Nepal time has flown by. As I prepare to leave in just 3 days patients tell me that it seems like I have only just arrived days ago. I agree, I'm not ready to leave this new family and community that has been building. I should have known that time would do funny things here in Nepal before I arrived, given that the time difference between here and my home in Oregon is not the standard 13 hour time difference. No, there is also a 15 minute difference added into the time change. So much is packed into each day it seems as though a month is fit into every week. I feel that all I can do is surrender to the process, just flow with the fast pace, and hope that in time everything will settle and my consciousness will catch up!
As time flies by I'm left with questions whirling in my head. Most questions center around what my role is here in Nepal as a health care provider. Is my role to get patients better quickly so that they can stop coming in for treatment in the shortest amount of time possible? Is my role to provide a safe space for patients, a place for them to experience a pause from the rest of their week? A receptive ear to listen to the suffering experienced and the joys of their lives? The abusive husbands, the grandchildren abroad, the weddings planned, the abandoned children adopted. Do I help provide a place where community can build, a place where bonds between patients establish themselves. Offerings made... One patient quietly slipping another money, who can not afford necessary medication. The answers come and go and shift in response to the day and the patients who arrive in my treatment room.
Throughout this process I'm faced with so many questions and unknowns, I'm constantly challenged to just stay engaged and be present. With time moving so quickly it is easy for me to want to slip away to a quiet place for a moment, to reflect, replay experiences, and in that way process all that I'm learning and witnessing. Instead I challenge myself to just stay engaged with this moment. Sometimes it is easy, watching the sunset reflected on the Himalayas, welcoming 8 new puppies into the world, the excitement of our building being under siege by the neighborhood clan of monkeys. Other times it is harder, holding a 11 year old epileptic monk as he seizes in my arms, days when the trembling of my patient suffering from Parkinson's Disease is hard to calm down, and knowing that my patient with high blood pressure will never get the necessary medication due to lack of finances and family support. These challenges have helped me cultivate an ability to stay grounded and present during intense situations.
Gazing at the Himalayas this morning I hope that my time here will shape me like the elements have shaped the mountains. Cultivating strength, groundedness, and perseverance on the inside while being soft enough on the outside to be touched and shaped by what comes my way. ---Tara Gregory