My friend, fellow physician, and fellow blogger Bryan Vartabedian posted his Three Words for 2014 today, as he has in the past. Another physician friend, Deanna Attai MD, has also done this in past years. I figured that it being January first, I should throw my hat (trick) in the ring. Here goes.
My first word is exploration.
exploration |ˌekspləˈrāSHən|nounthe action of traveling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it:voyages of exploration | an exploration of the African interior.• thorough analysis of a subject or theme: an exploration of the religious dimensions of our lives.DERIVATIVESexplorational |-ˈrāSHənl| adjectiveORIGIN mid 16th cent. (denoting an investigation): from French, or from Latinexploratio(n-), from the verb explorare (see explore). The current sense dates from the early 19th cent.
I am at the point in my life, squarely and firmly in middle age, where I am fairly confident about what I know and don’t know. I move smoothly through most days in my work life, I feel that I can usually make good decisions, and I am a deliberate thinker. I don’t like surprises. I make lists. I plan. I use technology to help my life move forward in predictable ways that keep me sane. All that being said, life can very quickly become dull, boring and stifling if one does not ask certain questions from time to time. What would happen if I learned about this new subject? What would it feel like to take a trip to Australia? What if I change jobs (again) just because I need more challenges? I plan to learn to use some new software programs this year, or take some of my standards to the next level. I will be traveling. I will not be still for very long. I’m happier when I’m on the move. I do know that. Vasco da Gama got nothing on me, baby.
My second word is expansion.
expansion |ikˈspanSHən|nounthe action of becoming larger or more extensive: the rapid expansion of suburban Washington | a small expansion of industry.• extension of a state’s territory by encroaching on that of other nations, pursued as a political strategy: German expansion in the 1930s.• a thing formed by the enlargement, broadening, or development of something: the book is an expansion of a lecture given last year.• the increase in the volume of fuel on combustion in the cylinder of an engine, or the piston stroke in which this occurs.ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from late Latin expansion-, from Latin expandere (seeexpand) .
Exploration is one thing, but if one does not use what is learned in the experimentation and the travel and the doing, then of what use is exploring at all? The next word, and the next logical step, is expansion. Just as gas that is heated expands and is powerful enough to fill and lift a great balloon and gondola off the ground and take it downwind to other locales, so can exploration expand one’s mind and body and world to the point that things will never look the same again. The mundane is not enough. Broadening and development should happen, must happen. I want to expand my horizons this year, physically, mentally, spiritually and in real space and time.
My third word is empowerment.
empower |emˈpou(-ə)r|verb [ with obj. and infinitive ]give (someone) the authority or power to do something: nobody was empowered to sign checks on her behalf.• [ with obj. ] make (someone) stronger and more confident, esp. in controlling their life and claiming their rights: movements to empower the poor.DERIVATIVESempowerment noun
This is a word that can very easily become tired and overused in my field of mental health. Clinicians, patients and advocacy groups wield these terms like so many badges of courage, talking of empowerment as if it is something that is magic fairy dust or unicorn tears to be sprinkled and poured over afflicted souls, imparting new energy and wisdom and power that they never had before. Wrong. Re-read the definition above. Once one is empowered, one must actively, actively, make a confident and purposeful decision to take control of life and claim their rights to explore and expand their horizons.
These are my three words for 2014.
Watch this space for a picture from the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge sometime before New Years Day 2015.
Who knows what else I might be able to share with you.