I thought I would make a list of the five things I’m most looking forward to doing after I graduate.
This does not include the usual suspects : getting more sleep, spending more time with family and friends, taking fewer tests, etc… It also doesn’t include the very exciting new developments of running a business full-time, getting back into (and developing my skills within) blogging and – of course – developing as a clinician and scholar in Chinese medicine.
Portland is, I think, one of the most wonderful cities in the world. It is easily the greatest city I have ever visited. There is simply no end to the nooks and crannies to be explored. From the urban mettle of the Eastside Industrial district (spitting distance to our clinic) to the gilded streets of the Pearl, the well-worn sidewalks of the Belmont and Hawthorne neighborhoods and all the other incredible districts and ‘hoods. Add to that the abundant Hill Walk opportunities, countless little pockets of Wildness all over the city, endless cultural events, used bookstores galore, junk sales, free boxes, chickens running wild, food carts, curiosities around every corner. It’s too much to think about, much too much to write. It is a place that draws together many interesting things. I love to walk, I love to bike, and one of my favorite things is to just go where the wind blows me.
These blown about moments are ripe for deepening awareness, pregnant with the possibility of seeing more deeply into reality – informing my practice and my purpose.
Getting to know the Watershed
Beyond the city limits, a smorgasboard of outdoor space awaits. From NCNM, I can see two mountains – absolutely surrounded with verdant forest, sublime foothills, rushing rivers and not a few glorious swimming holes. Both up and down the valley we have hotsprings, old growth, wine country, waterfalls and a hundred underused hiking trails and tent camping spots.
This is to say nothing for the miles of undeveloped beaches, the endless expanses of highland desert, dunes, caves and lakes from outerspace. It’s not hard to understand why so many people love this state. Just as the city safari, the kind of surprises and encounters that come about while wandering the wildness of the world is an awareness building experience.
Reading (and experiencing) Widely
I have a reading list a mile long. There is a lot I want to read within the field, but even more outside of it. There is just so much to learn, so much to imagine, so many people writing down so many incredible things. Finally, finally – I may have some time to take it all in. The reality is that I will probably stay more or less in the range of Chinese medicine related materials – but for me – that field is pretty broad. I also have a whole lot of Continental Philosophy to burrow into. Also, Rorty. Oh, and I started playing roleplaying games again, so there’s plenty to read there. All of this helps build a richness of worldview that can only help me as a practitioner. Like some guy once told me.
Learning and Using Chinese language
The most important new project I’m taking on over the next decade is to deeply learn Chinese language. I’ve got a lot of materials for homestudy, as I won’t be able to afford (or stomach) formal education for at least a year or two. I’m hoping between that and the resources of my peers and friends, I’ll be able to make a go at it. I’m going to be doing the arduous task learned in Classical Texts classes at NCNM – going through texts character by character, and trying to drink them in. I believe that a mastery of this language is a crucial key in unlocking my potential in the field. I don’t intend to put that off, if I can help it. The deeper I fall into the symbols of the language, the deeper my awareness, the more profound my connection, the more effective the medicine. Or so some other guy told me.
Redoubling my efforts in Self Cultivation
I have experienced first-hand the difference between the treatments of practitioners who attend closely to their self-cultivation and those who do not. I don’t expect to be a saint, and I don’t expect any other practitioner to be. However, the degree to which we learn to become still, to connect deeply (both inward and outward) and care for our health on every level is the degree to which we will become not just technicians, but deeply skilled care providers. I have been working on this throughout my four years at NCNM, but I must admit that the rigors of my life have sometimes made me less than totally devoted to practice. I’m looking forward to a chance to change that.
About Eric Grey
Hi - I'm the founder of this site and the primary master of all functions here. When I'm not writing, you can find me reaching out to the Chinese Medicine community across the web and in my own backyard. I currently teach Chinese herbs at my alma mater, the National College of Natural Medicine. Additionally, I'm the founder of Watershed Wellness, a thriving local clinic in Southeast Portland in Oregon. No matter where I'm working, you'll find my focus on the Classical approach to Chinese medicine laced throughout everything I do.