The Journey

Similar to the activity above, please read the poem, "The Journey" by Mary Oliver. As you read, think about whether unrealistic expectations from patients or their family members undermined the confidence you have in your capacity as a practitioner? If you have ever, cared for a patient that could not be “saved”, did you blame yourself or feel it was a reflection of your capacity (if you have not yet had this experience, think about how you might feel)? 

After reading the poem "The Journey" by Mary Oliver, and reflecting on the questions above, return here for some additional thoughts (STOP HERE and read the poem "The Journey" first): 

Mary Oliver’s poem focuses on the journey we take to become an individual. Realizing what we know we need to do to thrive and accepting responsibility for the path we take is the first step that propels us toward growth. Initially, the traveler is met with voices that try to sway them from the path they know they must take. These voices may be society’s expectations, family expectations, obligations we feel toward others that come at the cost of our wellbeing. She writes “You knew what you had to do… through their melancholy was terrible” which emphasizes how our sympathy can sometimes lead us to betray ourselves. It is a confusing and uncomfortable journey. The house is a metaphor for the self; when we venture on this journey the very foundation of how we understand our self is shaken. The road is “full of branches and stones” but “little by little” our own voice becomes clearer. The further along on our journey we go, the easier it becomes to know our true self and go where our individual conscious, our own internal voice, leads us. What bad advice/voices/pleas/expectations do you know you must ignore as a health care practitioner in order to thrive?