"I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of." ~Michel de Montaigne
What's wrong with me? What person in their right mind uses a place like this as a means of escape? But, that's exactly what I'm doing. I've reached the point where there's nothing left in Chicago for me. I might as well be working among strangers at County these days for all of those that want anything to do with me. Come to think of it, can I really blame them?
I can't deny how badly I've treated anybody, and I'm not talking only about those I was sleeping around with, or those like Erin who I very nearly killed. When was the last time I treated anyone with any sense of respect? I don't know how to go about undoing any of it, it's not like I can just show up and ask everyone to forgive me for what I've done, let alone trust me if I say it won't happen again?
Even if I get past that, there's still the decline in how I look at work in general, and I wonder when it stopped being important to me. When did I become the doctor that would think it okay to leave a patient alone to take her mother into the supply closet for a few minutes of my own pleasure? I used to look forward to my shifts, I'd look forward to whatever experiences and challenges my patients would bring me, not anymore. During these past weeks, all I did was show up and go through the motions. It didn't make any difference if I was setting a broken leg, or fighting to keep someone's heart beating, I couldn't seem to feel anything for them. I don't see my patient's faces anymore, I don't see them as anything but the condition they present to the ER with. What's wrong with me?
If only this downward spiral were isolated to work, I could change jobs and everything would be fine, but, it's not, and it won't. Outside of the hospital my life seems to only have crumbled just as badly if not worse them my career, and when I think of the depths I've sunk to in order to feel something, anything, I hate myself. If I hadn't left Chicago, if I hadn't come here now, how much lower would I have been willing to go? Drug, alcohol, something far worse?
Laying in the darkness on his cot, Luka begged his thoughts to quiet. Pushing his damp bangs back off his foreheadwith a sigh, he realized just how pointless it was. Between them, the heat, and the sounds of those fleeing from the fighting sleep was impossible to find.
As he sat up and dropped his feet to the floor, he couldn't help but envy those around him. How many hours would he need to put in before his body would decide he deserved the luxury of more than a few stolen minutes? It was as pointless for him to stay sitting here as it had been for him to try and force his mind to shut down and let him sleep. Grabbing the pack of cigarettes and lighter from the wooden crate that served as a nightstand, Luka rose and quietly made his way to the tent's doorway.
Shoving the tent-flap aside, he was met by a waft of stale air as he stepped outside. He'd have given anything for a cool breeze, but,tonight that too seemed out of his grasp, and he was left with the feeling that it was all part of some master plan. For the short period of time it took him to light his cigarette, Luka managed to distract the thoughts that had kept him from sleep, the reasons that had brought him to this place. In that brief moment of peace, he drew the smoke deep into his lungs, savoring the burn of it before releasing it around him. When John had asked him about his smoking, he's told him that he wasn't a smoker. Even here he'd been unable to stop himself from lying.
It was funny how quickly something so simple could undo everything, but in that moment of realization his haven of peace had disappeared. His mind was already looking for ways to torment him, forcing him to relive those things that had led him to escape to the Congo in the first place.
Drawing deep on his cigarette, Luka was torn by the irony of his situation as he watched those fleeing the fighting move through the compound. What sane person sees a place like this as an escape? The Congolese themselves were evacuating and here he was, looking for answers that he had no way of knowing he would ever find. So, what choice did he have but to wait, wait and hope for a sign, or for answers, or both. Taking a final pull on his cigarette, Luka pinched the butt off before flicking it away.
He could only hope things would turn-around, they certainly couldn't get much worse, but, nothing was going to happen if he didn't get some sleep. Taking a final look at the passing line of weary villagers, Luka turned and pushed the tent-flap aside. Maybe he could learn something from them, like them, if he could manage to cling to just a single thread of hope he too could start to find his way to a new life. It was that thought that he clung to as he disappeared back into the stifling darkness of the tent. It was somewhere to start.