I'm in a strange place in life right now; I have a constant sense of an impending change. I don't know what to call it; restlessness? Boredom? Mid-life crisis?
Like so many other people in the world, I am not really sure what I want out of life. Some days, we talk about buying a house and settling down; some days, we talk about signing up for Doctor Without Borders. Most days, we aren't sure where in the world we will be in a few years.
Something big happened the other day. Out of nowhere, my Ex-wife told me that we could have Natali for another year. I had been worried sick about what she would say, and suddenly she made up her mind. I should have been happier than I was. Natali getting a chance to experience Denmark, is the best thing about being here. I was happy, sure, but at the same time it represented the fact that we are staying here for, at least, another school year.
There is nothing wrong with staying here; we both have good, interesting jobs. The kids are thriving. The Lorax takes gymnastics and music classes, where all the parents arrive in their matching cars and dress their kids in expensive, organic clothes. Natali has friends over, who all think the same beautiful open-minded thoughts, while silently expressing "you better act like us, or else".
Life is uniformly safe and predictable. Denmark is a perfect, intensely boring paradise.
Don't think I haven't thought about why I am feeling this minor dysthymia. It's odd that I was an overworked resident, whose wife left him, and still felt okay. So many people were worried about me, but those days almost felt like an adventure. I had a glorious sense of no one has ever done this before. Which of course was nonsense, but that's what it felt like. On paper, that life sucked. I had no money; I worked all the time. I had zero wiggle room, even compared to now. So why am I feeling trapped now, in this life with plenty of money, lots of spare time, with a great wife and kids?
There are a few theories, that I would like to share:
1) Leaving my son. I don't think about him constantly, but there is an undeniable sense that my life isn't complete here without him. Sometimes, it feels like my present life is an interlude, and that I will soon get back to seeing him every day. Even as I am writing this, it is difficult for me to accept that there is no day in sight, when I will be living with him, or even near him, on a permanent basis.
2. Death all around me. Working with critically ill patients may be harder on me than I think. When I meet a patient for the first time, it usually involves me delivering bad news. It bothers me more and more how much pain and humiliation these people go through in the hospital. I think we give too much chemo and too little comfort. Every day, I think about the fact that I, the Girl, the kids or someone else, could get sick and transform into one of those poor unfortunate souls with cancer.
3. We have no 5-year plan. My whole life, I have lived by 5-year plans. Do this; get through this. Work hard, and it will all work out. The question now beckons, have I arrived? Good job? Check. Beautiful fantasy wife? Check. Economic safety? Check.
Satisfied? Not so sure.