There was one massive question he couldn’t stop from rolling over and over in his head.
“What might I lose?”
Besides the obvious.
The reality that he had lived a life completely and utterly with himself and his own happiness as the measuring stick of every decision he made finally hit him. His parents would be shocked that this was the first time in decades he had recognized the self-absorbed approach he overlaid onto everything he saw, said, thought, and did. They would also be overcome with joy he finally had reached this point of awareness.
He began to take stock of all the consequential decisions he made over the years. Decisions he made to get where he was, and to point him on this trajectory he was so pleased with. They came streaming through his mind, not sequenced by time, but by significance. He thought of his decisions to take that job, to bend the truth for that promotion, to not emotionally engage with that woman. To walk away from the faith of his parents.
It was all so fast, his own thoughts passed by too quickly for his emotions to keep up. But there was one overarching thought. He had built his life around a single guiding principle that itself now risked crashing down. While he had done exceedingly well at reaching his goal, it was the goal itself that seemed off. He had been so successful at achieving what he set out to do that he never stopped to assess whether it was the right thing. Individual success in every format – respect, money, positional power, influence – at the expense of everything else, was something he had never questioned
He faced the reality that not only was he chasing the wrong goal, but a thought he himself could not even imagine was coming into his head. Perhaps there was something he could do to right some of these misdirections:
‘Give it all up and move here.’
He took a piece of paper from the junk-drawer in the mid-century hutch that clearly a previous generation of missionary doctor brought over in a shipping container some decades prior.
He scratched out on the only paper he could find, a tear-off grocery list decorated with Christmas-teddy-bears. 24 lines with little check-boxes to the left of each one. As he filled them – he realized he needed to go back over his list and mark the things he was willing to lose, to give up, to throw away, or not.
He returned to items, adding things, removing others, checking some off, and realizing that he could not check off others. He didn’t notice how long he had been working on the list when there was a knock on the door. It was Dr. Tom, who Seth noticed for the first time looked rather tired, and worn down.
Seth felt like he finally was at a point where he could admit something he couldn’t believe he was ready to say out loud. Dr. Seth Queller felt so wrecked inside about where his life had arrived, that he felt he might be ready for a fundamental shift. He could actually see the negative aspects of the worldview he defended subconsciously for as long as he could remember.
“Dr. Tom,” he began, the most respectful words he had spoken to him since they met, “I feel I have learned something significant being here. I now see you aren’t here because you couldn’t find work back home, but you chose to be here.”
“Well, you must understand my real motivations…” he started to reply when Seth interrupted, but more politely than every time before.
“Let me finish… please.
…I think I’m ready to think about giving up everything to move here and help with this work.”