Every day, I get up early, drive to the hospital, spend 10-13 hours working, and go home. On my days off, I try to cram as much family time in as I can. The park, movie night, the occasional day outing.
There's nothing particularly exciting about this. In fact, it's the life style that nearly all my fellow residents have. It's not an extravagent life. We can pay all our bills. There's just a little extra for comfort.
Living this way, it's easy to get used to it. I don't worry about whether or not I'll have a job next month, whether getting laid off is in my future. It's the same for everyone at my job. The hospital will need us next month and next year.
Being surrounded by this, it's easy to think that it is that way for everyone. That all the talk about the economic hardships and downturns and tumbles have just passed right by this small Midwestern city.
But if I actually pay attention, I realize that the stability in my life is not the reality for many surrounding me. All it takes is looking out my car window as I drive to work to see the truth.
I think I started paying attention when we took the boys to get haircuts several months ago, and the place we considered going was no longer there. All that was left was the vague outline of the store name on the stucco and a "For Lease" sign in the window.
I started noticing how many stores windows were empty. I started noticing how many houses had "For Sale" signs out in front that stayed in place month after month, only to be joined by "Price Reduction" signs. I started noticing how many of my patients brought up being laid off.
My life isn't the easiest. I'm juggling a lot of balls. I feel overworked, tired, stressed, burnt out. But the one thing my life has is security. It's easy to let that security form a cocoon that prevents me from seeing the hardship in the rest of the world. I know that peeling back that security blanket and taking a better appraisal of the real world doesn't make a difference for all those going through hard times.
But I can remember, as I drive past the failed businesses and unsold homes, to be grateful. Grateful for my home, my car, my job. And yes, even grateful for craziness that comes with it.