A lot of times I think people in our generation* waste too much time thinking about what they're meant to do. What their dream job is. What their destiny is. What about the idea of doing what your parents want you to do? Or the idea of taking over the family business? Or just continuing to do what you're doing because that is what you have been trained to do and you're good at it? What about simply being glad that you have a job or a trade that can give you work? What is all this dream crap?
If you are still reading because you think I have the answer, you can stop reading now. But why exactly is this question so important to me?
Let's take a very brief trip back to my childhood. Young Sea Legs Girl dreamed of nothing but being a musician. And later of being a writer. Her head was caught in fiction books and rock groups, but her dad had other ideas for her. He thought the whole music thing was mildly charming, but wanted his daughter to be involved in sports and go to medical school. I started college an English major playing in rock bands and the university string orchestra and ended up a long-distance runner bound for medical school (let's temporarily ignore the fact that I was also a raging anorexic with obsessive compulsive disorder).
In the end, he was right. One should not study what one enjoys studying. One should study (and train) to be the person one wants to be.
Had you asked me a year ago, I would have said it had all worked out. But now I'm not so sure. I am working on a study where I have very limited patient contact. I sit and grade retinal photos, enter data into a database and try to analyse data without cheating or lying or messing up. And at this point I am having trouble seeing what exactly Danes are going to get out of an epidemiological study of what eye diseases their population has. Okay, there are actually a lot of things that could come out of the study. But every day I sit and dream. And think about everything except for what I should be thinking of.
I think about how I went to medical school to work with Doctors without Borders and how I, ironically, have ended up studying the population in the world with perhaps the best health care system. I think about working as a sports medicine doctor. I think of working as a family medicine doctor in a small town. I think of finally publishing a paper out of all of the Danish National Birth Cohort study just looking at the effect of running on pregnancy. I think about publishing the Running Routes of the World book (yes, yes, you can still contribute! - it just requires time and commitment and a love of running and the possibility of no monetary compensation - it's a great opportunity!)
But at what point does one give up one's training and go in a completely different direction? No, no. I'm not talking about giving up medicine. I just couldn't. It's in my bones at this point and I love it.I'm talking about being more of a general physician rather than an ophthalmologist. A PhD and a whole lot of knowledge about eyes couldn't really hurt anything - it just seems like a waste to everyone who has trained me. And maybe I am just really bummed out because my "patient" is an enormous database.
As far as SR is concerned, he wants to move back to the US for many reasons. I am starting to be ok with this idea.
We have talked about the idea of moving to Klamath Falls: a small town in Oregon we could both imagine living, where there is a Family Medicine residency program for me and an ER SR could work in. We wouldn't move from here until my PhD and SR's specialty training in hematology is over (so we're talking a few years -- and I'll have to erase this post long before then so no residency program knows where I want to match -). But right now, it is a dream we share. No one really believed I would end this blog post saying we shouldn't dream, did they?
Thanks to Nasko Oskov for this picture of Crater Lake near Klamath Falls.
*everyone in the western world
Running songs of the day:
We Used to Wait by Arcade Fire
Ivy & Gold by Bombay Bicycle Club (just because of the banjo)
Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.
"Children are fascinated by the ordinary and can spend timeless moments watching sunlight play with dust. Their restlessness they learn from you. It is you who are thinking of there when you are here. It is you who thinks of then instead of now. Stop. Let your children become the teachers and you the student" - William Martin