In a happy coincidence, I happened to pick up a copy of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" before leaving Claremont and heading to my new gig.
Sitting alone on the floor of my new home-away-from-home in Kayenta, Arizona, the night of my arrival, after unloading the car, buying some basic groceries and supplies, and assembling my Ikea table, I had the free time to fully appreciate the lump of panic in my chest. A good time to distract oneself from the fear of having made a great mistake, I tried to focus on the question, "what's best", the fundamental question addressed in the above-mentioned book. (Note to readers: I'm only 4 chapters in, so it may not turn out to be the question addressed, at all, but it fits my blog plan so you're stuck with it. This sort of literary license is a genetic predisposition in my family. Sorry)
On paper, my choice to work with the Indian Health Service (IHS) has enough check marks in the “plus” column to justify overlooking some important (very) marks in the “minus” column. Hopefully still true, but I must say that on night #1, fatigue, anxiety, and loneliness seemed to be trumping any of the noble intentions that got me here. The challenge of splitting time between Kayenta and Portland, attempting to do well at work, marriage, health, and happiness, all while doing no harm to the attempts of others to do the same is daunting. As much as I want to succeed in this, anxiety delivered an initial ass-whoopin' to confidence.
Past experiences suggest that this will all work out – lordy, I hope so. Until then, I spent my first weekend here replaying all of the “wise” advice that I’ve given my daughters to help them face significant challenges of their own. Time to walk-the-walk. If I can handle this with the grace and courage that they have shown, this should pan out. Thus spake myself to myself.
Happy to report now, after my first day at work, that I have been panic-free almost the entire day, and now that I am pirating internet access from my neighbor/co-worker, all is good. With temporary calm restored and the ability to focus on something fun, decided to drop this brief blog and introduce all to the 'hood.
To the right is the view out of my kitchen window, north, showing my fence, a driveway, the 'hood playstructure, a few of my neighbors' homes, and "The Toes" rock formation. This area is open for hiking and mountain biking, and is likely to be the best chance of regular exercise. Not a feral dog in sight, and a really beautiful day.
Out the front door, looking south, is Sven, the road to the Health Center (3 minute walk), and the boarded-up remnants of some long-abandoned BIA structures. A fine 'hood, surrounded mostly by co-workers, many I've now met.
I am occupying only a small part of this 3 BR house, and things are still a bit "under development". My giant inflato-bed has been great, satellite radio a blessing, and my Ikea lamp most excellent for reading. There are still patches of un-put-away stuff scattered around. It's really a fine home, although temporary, until my smaller home is refurbished.
Work day #1 was largely spent with orientation and paperwork, but got enough time to discuss things with others that I have a good start on understanding what the job will really entail. More on that as things develop, but for now I'm feeling that it will be about what was expected: big challenges, not a lot of resources, very worthy objectives.
So, after almost 72 hours here, what's best? Even I'm not foolish enough to hazard a guess, but at 5:52 PM, Mountain Time, I'm feeling much better about being here. That said, can't wait to be in touch with y'all and to see Angela this weekend back in PDX. Meanwhile, I'll keeping reading, wondering "what's best?", and trying to sort out what in the world I’m doing here.