Yesterday, a friend of many years, D,
and I chatted at some length.
We'd started our careers at about the
same time, reveled in the excitement of the "wonder years"
of our professional lives, and succeeded in our respective fields beyond
our wildest dreams in large part due to our sheer determination,
dedication and will, strong work ethic, and willingness to work
long, hard hours.
We've also put up with the day-to-day
interruptions, irritations and hassles of running busy offices and endured
betrayals and thefts by associates and staff. Recently, an associate he'd
hired to take on his overflow clients took off with his office
manager, who D had invested much of his time and
effort to personally train. While I've not experienced
anything quite as egregious as this, I've known that pain of
disappointment when let down by those I've put my trust and
Over the years, we've rejoiced and
commiserated together. We've been the other's sounding board, openly
discussing our growing disillusionment over the impact
of managed care and HMOs and the limits placed on quality care by
them, specifically, the fact that those systems reward doctors who see
more and more patients with shorter and shorter appointments, doing
less and less for each.
He expressed many of the concerns
that I had dealt with a few years ago: a vague discontent;
a certain ennui with things,
people and concerns that had hitherto held great interest; a sense
of feeling adventurous and
wanting to do something completely different (To my surprise, he
said, "Maybe go to law school.")
and a basic uncertainty about
where his life is going.
He says he'd like to follow the
footsteps I'd taken in my career: A pause. A detour. A
re-direction. And a restructuring of my time.
A few years ago, I had limited my clientele, hired
associates to help me with my overload, and
concentrated my efforts on fighting on the front line for what I believed in with all
my heart -- quality, conscientious care -- and informing and
protecting my clients
and others with facts, not hype. I also carved out time to be
able to give back. Now, having won a few battles and
inevitably, in time, the war, and balanced myself with world and
work and involvement, I
am happy again.
says he's ready to hop off the grueling work treadmill, reassess his life
goals, slow down, and try to regain his joy of living. I had no real
answers or roadmap for him, but I offered a good listening
ear. I suggested that perhaps it was time to consider the
dictum, "Doctor, heal thyself."
I pointed out to him that, single and without children, he was unshackled compared to his peers.
He had choices he could make. He could retake authority of his
life with relative ease.
"You know, you're right.
So many of my peers hate what they're doing any more. It's not
what they got into health care to do, but they're stuck," he
said, nodding. "I just had a med school friend, a pediatrician,
and his family visiting me from San Francisco. He's burned
out, but he has two children to put through college. His first
son's hoping to go to USC next fall, and the tuition alone is
$36,000 a year. He doesn't know how he's going to do it."
"You have the spirit, stamina
and youthfulness to climb even higher mountains, D," I
said. I could see that he knew that what I said was absolutely
true. Unabashedly, I let D know that he was looking great, although
a bit dispirited. Practicing what he preaches, including taking good
care of himself, has paid off for D. He looks at least 10-15 years
younger than his years.
Half serious, half in jest, I
suggested, "If you're thinking of going into law, consider
helping those with Lasik surgery
complications who have been wronged by docs who mislead them,
taking the easy way to riches. They need all the help they can get
from honest and caring attorneys who will help them put their ruined
lives back together. Think about it, D."
Maybe, he will. And maybe
there's something else right over the horizon.
In short, D's going through a
mid-life transition. No, not crisis. Simply, a transition.
These issues and conflicts are arising because he's being true to
himself, his spirit. Those who've lost touch with their souls
along the way sell out to meaningless,
unfulfilled lives. I dare to believe that D is discovering hidden aspects of his
true self that will take him to his greatness.
Bottom line: I like D
immensely. He's a good man. I want him happy again. I want him
to once more be challenged
and enthusiastic. I want D to be who he was meant to be.
A late evening arrival
in my Inbox from
Belle. Sweet dreams are made of these...
AU & DH,
Thank you for your positive thoughts and prayers. They mean a
lot to me.
You are the older sibs I wished I had. You have always been there for
me and I will never forget your kindness and love.
I best be
getting to bed...but these are my thoughts of you both
thanks for finding us at lunch today. You
are ALWAYS welcome at my table! I also enjoyed your journal.
reminds me of a picture I have of a little girl and her dog...
in the Andes with your shawl blowing in the wind.
DH, I enjoy the way you smile and the way your
eyes crinkle at the corners. It's good to hear you laugh.
of others is carrying them in our hearts,
carrying their miseries, their difficulties, their
Fr. M.D. Philippe
"Life is a Gift."
only gift is a portion of thyself..."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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