What is the fountain from which we all draw? It could not be an individual system that supplies each one of us. If it were only within ourselves, we would be left without options for renewal, for nourishment in drought, for reinforcement when others come to us in need of sharing. With only one fountain, there’s a recognizable end to our source and re-source. “One” is not a sustainable resource, even in the most abundant times.
Every day, my fountain, and it’s underlying well, are tapped, emptied out entirely, and refilled to overflowing, many times over. The thirty-one year old with newly diagnosed breast cancer who “just knew.” Emptied. The four-year old who signs and kisses his mother’s belly when I walk into the room to show me his role as big brother, because I asked him last time to think about it. Refilled. The sixteen year old who asks me to pretend to remove her IUD because that is what her boyfriend wants, but she wants to keep it. Tapped. The sixty-five year old with uncontrolled diabetes and tingling fingers and diminishing eyesight, who thinks her pap smear is the more important visit. Poured out. The twenty-three year old with six children who loves all of them more than I have ever seen someone love another person. Refilled to overflowing.
Midwifery, most days, means that my work is to assess the status of others’ hydration in health and life. I leave my worries at the clinic or labor room door, and walk in with love and passion and community on my mind. I tell them how great it is to see them, because it is: their faces and their lives are a source of my own spring. I tell them that I have been thinking about them, because I have: their labs have come through my inbox, their words through my mind on the commute home, their needs affect storylines in my dreams. I tell them that we are going to work through things together, because we are: my source does not exist without theirs, and vice versa.
Some days, my midwifery work feels as though its entire purpose is to share my source, to refill others’ wells, to allow their fountains to refill and spill over. I often think about how seldom we tell another person how nice it is to see them, or that we have been thinking about them, or that we are in this together. I think about that each time I say it. I wonder when the last time was that someone told her, directly or indirectly, that she was important, that she was on someone’s mind, and that her work and experiences were a shared load, even partially. Lately, I consider these words and the creation of that space to be an essential component of my midwifery care, to be the source of each others’ springs of optimism and understanding and love.
As a humanist, I believe in collective energy, that my purpose and good and love come from those around me and is determined and driven by innate community. My fountain is tapped and refilled daily by my work, by my beliefs in society, by my knowledge that I am not alone in the goodness that flows to me and from me.
As a feminist, I believe in human equality and work toward naming the work there is to do, and joining forces with others to do that work. I believe that recognizing where we are unequal is an important piece of our collective humanity, and the place from which true progress begins.
As a midwife, I believe in partnership and relationships and collective knowledge. I believe the space created by women’s bodies and their minds is powerful and should be encouraged, supportive, recognized, and emphasized as normal and important. I believe that the health of individuals is a mirror of the health of a culture.
As a runner, I believe in the somatic feeling that the body can be exhausted, emptied, and in need of refilling. And it was this physical and emotional need in the middle of a long run recently that motivated my understanding of sources, resources, wellsprings and fountain sharing. I have felt emptied before, whether due to mental health struggles, or emotional despair, or fear. Watching and reading the news recently had me feeling empty, but not tangibly and without language to accompany the dearth. But the tangibility of a body without water really solidifies a previously intangible thought process.
Likely this post comes from the depths of my current running exhaustion. Or it comes from the depths of my midwifery exhaustion. Or, further downward, from the depths of my feminist and humanitarian exhaustion. All are at odds with current needs and tapped resources, for me personally, for the patients I serve, and my global community. My heart and body and mind ache for what is happening in Ferguson, MO, what continues to happen in Detroit, MI, what is happening in the south, and what is happening on college campuses. This is but a brief list of the truth that exists for all of us, right now.
To me, this is a reminder that for many, the fountain has stopped flowing. The well is dry. Sources are tapped all around us. For those who continue to have energy and water and force running within us, we must make ourselves present, we must make our sources known, and we must be there for each other in whatever capacity we have available. In the very much here and now, the basic rights to life and safety and water do not exist for many. Institutional, cultural, societal, ethical, and legal wells are dry, and in need of resourcing.
For those struggling, for those seeking source and resource, for those who need to know that someone wants to see them and is thinking about them and is working with them: I am here with you. Today, I seek to acknowledge your existence and your importance and our collective community by writing. My fountain overflows with love for you, my well is deep in community with you, and my spring is yours to tap into.