9 Years, A Full Circle, And A Pinch Of Goo Gone

Can this formula get you unstuck?

My blog has lo these many weeks occupied a space in my head formerly reserved for such things as the pile of mail I wasn’t dealing with. Late bills? Notification of being named in a malpractice suit? Or the 11th grade research paper I wasn’t doing–on which passing to senior year was contingent. Or not figuring out what to do with my life.

Which is to say a dark nook to keep things that upon being reminded of their existence (in the case of my blog, the link on my toolbar that leers menacingly every time I look at my browser) causes a lusty feeling of neglectfulness, of being remiss, of leaving one’s post, of falling down on he job.

Yet, my response to any slip of light which might illuminate this dark nook has been to run, to avoid, to numb my senses, leaving me in a state of paralysis, of being stuck.

Nine years ago, I left my neurology residency and headed, with Hatbox Louie, to the San Francisco Bay. My idea was to work for a non-profit, world-changing, peace and social justice organization. The trevails of this sorry misadventure are chronicled here.

The anxiety of being adrift, the compulsion to immediately find something lofty and great to do in order to mitigate the abomination of having left medicine, and a healthy dose of naivete, led to the failure of the escapade and ultimately to my return to medicine. I couldn’t take the heat.

Since then, I have completed a residency, worked as a clinician, volunteered my medical skills in Ecuador and Bolivia, traveled, fixed up two old houses, and tried to find a place for myself in academics. Some small successes, mild satisfactions, a few bucks. But ultimately wrong for me. All of these endeavors have amounted to stop-gap, temporizing measures. I have avoided facing that dark nook in my brain that held the truth of what I wanted to do as if the door were guarded by demons.

Well, at some point there is nowhere to run, there are no more quick little fixes; the demons must be excorcised. And so by sheer force of will, I have done so (and oddly, temporally coincident with the death of Jerry Falwell). What I really want to do, what I’ve always wanted to do, is write. At this point I don’t even care what I write. Science and medicine seem like logical starting points, but anything.

So I’ve come full circle. I’m going to relocate to the Bay area, where Hatbox Louie and I have great, interesting friends who know lots of people and are excited about new ideas and projects, and where there is an almost palpable feeling of possibility.

Nine years later, I have seen alot, thickened my skin, and no longer feel like I have to apologize for not pursuing a career that every day deadened another little piece of my soul. This time I’m going to make it work.

And I can’t very well decide to get unstuck and be a writer and at the same time let my blog fizz out like the idea of citizenship or the cassette tape. I believe it was Benjamin Disraeli who said, “Oy! Get up off your arse you bollocky tosser!” Well, ok Ben. Ok.

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Write. Ah, yes. I write. Make my living actually. But I have sold my soul. I write not what I wish to write but which I must write to feed and clothe the presidents of not one but two universities.

    It seems in order to educate my sons, they require my blood regular payments.

    So after 6 years of writing for others and to feed others ego and readership I am finally ready to move on to writing what I want rather than what I must.

    I wish you well on your journey.

  2. It sounds like you are entering a great time in your writing career. You must have innumerable projects you have been wanting to work on but had no time. It must be refreshing.

  3. I’ve missed reading your blog and I’m glad you’re back. You are a wonderful writer. I applaud your decision.

  4. Thank you. It’s good to be back.

  5. Good luck! I could use some advice:)

  6. What kind of advice?

  7. About the whole leaving medicine bit:)

  8. Wow. You are a damned fine writer. And I must thank you. Because after reading your posts I no longer feel a compulsion to leave my own sorry field to write. You are clearly better than I and my time is better served in the galley of whatever wretched leaking vessel will have me. Best wishes on your new career. And if you don’t mind could I have your MD? I feel like it would really come in handy…


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