|The beautiful picture by Ben Lenzner speaks to me. Is it ok to want to sit by the proverbial pool while your neighbors wade through muddy waters?|
While out at dinner recently someone asked me how I must feel having worked in conflict settings and in some of the poorest countries in the world. They asked me how, knowing that there is always more that I can be doing to help, do I find a balance between tending to my own wants and needs and trying to help others?
This is a very complicated question for me. The truth is: it's hard, and I haven't really found that balance. I am in a transition state, these days, trying to figure out what I am going to do with my life that will be both professionally and personally fulfilling. For many a supportive friend, the answer is obvious: keep doing what I am doing. I have a masters in public health. I have some wonderful work experience and can even go so far as to say that I am good at what I do. So why the dilemma? I fear that it is not enough. Perhaps it’s a crisis of confidence. Maybe it’s just the overwhelming recognition that whatever my contribution is in this world, it will be limited, and the uncertainty about how to maximize said contribution.
Or maybe it’s the conflict between what I think I should do, what will make me happy, and what I genuinely think I can do.
I just reread this old blog post entitled Dr. Paul Farmer: Moral Irritant? Paul Farmer is one inspiring guy. If you don't know of him or his work, I strongly suggest that you read Mountains Beyond Mountains. It's a short, beautifully written book about Farmer and the organization Partners in Health. Farmer lives his life in services to the poor. The book chronicles some of his earlier stories, highlighting Farmers dedication to his work above all else. Paul Farmer is a global health hero, and many, including myself, aspire to be more like him. The only problem is, I am just not sure that is possible for me. I have a wonderful husband. The best. We just bought a house together and want to have kids. For reasons of Dave's work and family, we live in New York. I couldn't possibly ask for more and am acutely aware of my good fortune. The only thing is, with this stability of this wonderful life, I am suddenly finding it harder and harder to work abroad and to get to the people I want to work for. I feel limited in my work, even more so in my impact. The guilt consumes me. I feel doubly bad for having such a great life and not being grateful enough.