I’ve never done well with leaps of faith.  There was a time when I would have described myself as a pessimist because of this.  I now know that I am not.  In fact, compared to a lot of people I interact with, I think I’m amazingly optimistic.  E.g. I tend to expect that  – all things being equal – most people will do good, will avoid being selfish and if they must be will act to reduce the negative impact on others, won’t go out of their way to hurt someone, will feel bad if they inadvertently do and will try to remedy it…all sorts of silly, Pollyanna-like beliefs such as these tumble around in my head.  And so, I must conclude, I am clearly not a pessimist.  It seems a little paradoxical to say then that I have a serious lack of faith.  I think there is a common thread though to both.  Most of my beliefs about people tend to involve a notion that we all (most) have our troubles and we all (most) know what it feels like to struggle, even if our struggles look silly and privileged to others who are outside our culture, class, or individual position.  And my lack of faith is colored by the same knowledge.  There are struggles, there are troubles, we don’t all understand one another immediately, well, or sometimes ever and so we can bump up against one another even if we are “good” and do damage when we hit a weakness.

I say all that and it sounds just so fluffy and “up with people” that I feel I must interject here to say that I think some people are outright assholes.  I allow for a continuum here though – some of them just are overly-expressing the universal inner asshole at that time and in other circumstances might be just fine folks (I believe I fall into that category); some wallow in that and become, for me, irredemable dregs until and unless something seriously life changing knocks them out of it and even then, I’m not sure long term assholery is something you get over all at once; some are just wrong and well, what I would characterize as evil.  I do believe the last set are rare.  I also believe the former two types can do serious damage to other people though, as much damage as if they were “evil”.

Taken together, this means that although I do tend to expect the best of people, I also know that life has a lot of sucking in it and some of it is intentional or at least done by one to another.  Thus, when I have to throw my fates to the wind, I get quite nervous.

Ok, now that we have that taken care of…

Back to faith.  I notice my lack of it at times like this.  I am moving, finding a place to move to more precisely.  At some point, we have to stop looking and just go with something.  How do you get past the “buyer’s regret” and the “whatifs” when everything you are seeing is going to be a compromise and just go?  You make a leap of faith.  I’m looking for jobs, not because I insanely believe that I have the energy or ambition to do so but because my current job is hell and I hope/pray that something else would be at least hell in ways that I can better deal with.  But how do I convince myself to look past the knowledge that I might leave this job, then find my health is just not good enough to take the stress of a new one (let alone concerns that the devil I don’t know may actually be as bad or worse)?  More faith.

And then there’s the health.  The area where I have perhaps as little faith as I can and where my most pessimistic thoughts about my fellow humans do manifest.  I don’t have to believe the doctor I am seeing or the nurse placing an IV in my arm is superhuman, in fact I cannot.  I have lived with and worked with them.  There are special ones and there are not so special ones, just like in every other walk of life.  I do have to believe though that the doctors and nurses know this.  I find that they often operate as if they do not.  I wonder if it is some delusion that people are more susceptible to when they work in health care.  I  could see that.  They encounter so many people at their worst, or to put it in my terms, they see a lot of “asshole expression”.  And they are in an in-between field, like education, where market, government, and the very personal needs of many grind up against one another in ways that threaten to pulverize the people and affairs caught in the middle.  And in that context, they work knowing that a bad day at work might involve choices can cost someone a lot: life, health, fulfillment of hopes, dignity, independence…  The worst healthcare provider experiences I have had have involved, almost all of them, providers who believe that they are super special and/or who find my lack of faith personally insulting.  I wish I could explain it all to them.  I wish I could tell them about knowing that they suffer too, that life often just sucks, and that mine has had a lot of sucking in it and so I do not have faith that usually things will be fine.  I think the sum of human existence actually would argue that usually they won’t, and what makes us amazing is doing well (and good) despite that.  And yet here is this set of people who SHOULD be the most aware of suffering, the most aware of human (their own included) frailty and short comings, and therefore have had all of this opportunity to become truly empathetic and self aware and instead, waaaaaay to many of them just chose the path of wallowing in assholery.  This pisses me off exactly because I believe that it is a choice.  It’s not made daily, but I’ll tell you this: it’s made every time one of them deals with an articulate person with a medical mystery.  So far, I’ve found very few of them who rise to the challenge.  I believe being patient in this context and continuing to practice empathy etc. would require not just the emotional constitution of a saint but a deep desire to be martyred as well because in this situation, your health and wellbeing is on the line.  It’s hard to be nice and patient when that’s the case, and I find it increasingly difficult to muster up anything even remotely approaching the faith that seems so apparently necessary in patient/provider encounters.

Eh.  Well, that went off on a tangent.  It’s a long ass way of saying I’m in a period of intense, nearly overwhelming ambivalence and I can’t even allow myself the luxury of stupid, blind faith.  Hope gets me down, so there’s no refuge there.  Love is a help, and I am thankful for it.  As is self reliance and precedent (I have gotten through some really bad shit before).  But I can be a bit mean to myself, and chronic mystery health problems tend to rob you of some of your self reliance, which makes these less sturdy blocks to rest on.

I believe at times like this, I just have to do what is sometimes called baby-steps but which I prefer to consider not in the plural because even “baby” steps are steps, plural, and I can really only just look at one step at a time right now until I get to the big one where I jump…move, see a new doctor, see an old doctor with a new request, etc.

What gets you through?  Faith?  Hope?

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  1. I miss ignorance. It was bliss. Wish there was on off switch for insight.

    Distraction from the negative whatever they may be help me a bit.

    Hang in there

    • I think when I get back to work, it will help. Right now, I have a lot of free time to ruminate.


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