Of Tea, Teapots, and Other Things

How working with patients can help us navigate the sunrises and sunsets of our own lives.

Psychiatry does not always have all the answers. However, the ability we develop over the years to introspect, to be self-aware, and to look at ourselves from the outside becomes one of our most significant personal gains on this journey. That, accompanied by the lessons learned through following the trajectories of the lives of people we treat, sometimes is all we need to navigate the sunrises and sunsets of our own lives.

Being a psychiatrist and a parent, assessing and learning about my own limitations, has been one of the most enriching and humbling experiences of my life.

I love tea

And everything that goes with it

The teapots, the mugs, the trays

The doilies and all

The coming together at 5

The conversation

The warmth

The peace and

the energy.

We are a family of five

Took me a while to find a teapot for five

There are teapots for two

and then for six to eight

Very hard to find one for

five

The smaller one will make the tea too strong

the larger one, too dilute

Five for five

That’s perfect

Perfect every time.

A few years ago, my oldest

left

College, law school, job, and

pastures beyond

Everything we would want her to do.

Teatime became slightly quieter

But the teapot for five was still alright

Just a bit left over

Someone always wanted a little more

The tea was still great

If not perfect every time.

Two years later, the middle one

left

College, computer science, job, and

pastures beyond

Everything we would want her to do

I realized I have to adjust

Less water, lesser tea leaves

Little more work to have the tea taste good

The pot was still working

The tea was not great,

definitely not perfect,

but good enough every time.

Last year, my youngest left

Just college for now,

With plans for pastures beyond.

He makes us so proud.

I don’t like my tea anymore.

I don’t like that there is so much left over

I don’t like that I know I need a new teapot

A teapot for two

While the one for five comes out for holidays

I don’t like that some days we are too tired for tea

and other days, it does not seem that important

I don’t like that the pot for two makes the tea taste right

Actually perfect every time.

I love tea

And everything that goes with it

The teapots, the mugs, the trays

The doilies and all

The coming together at 5

The conversation

The warmth

The peace and

the energy.

Dr Sethi is a psychiatrist in private practice in McLean, Virginia.