Old Post

Here’s a post from awhile ago that didn’t show up on the other Blog site:

Monday, August 23, 2004

It’s been awhile since I last posted. I’m now finishing up my month in surgery at Cottage Hospital up the road from VCMC.

Things are different here. Surprisingly, I’m in the OR less than when I was in the Family program. There’s lots of floor work and helping out the interns. We round as a group at 5:45 am each day, and we need to have seen all the patients on our service before then, which translates into arriving here b/t 3:30 and 4:30. The annoying thing is that things could be done more efficiently with less need for the early hours if they wanted to change their system. They don’t. This isn’t going to be the program for me. Over these past few weeks, as I’ve played with my kids through a haze of sleepiness after a 16 hour day, I’ve realized that surgery in general is not for me. It could be more humane – and is at certain programs – but is still a more demanding career than I want. I’m grateful for the clarity.

Santa Barbara is beautiful – even though there isn’t surf these days. I took my board to the beach yesterday, but it was so flat that I just walked along the shore and enjoyed the sunset. Even after many years of living here, I was still taken by the sight of the high clouds underlit by a brilliant red-gold light that reflected along the shoreline waves. No wonder it costs so much to live here. As it got dark, I sat on a picnic bench perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean and watched the stars appear – at first one-by-one, then later showing up in bunches. It wasn’t long until multitudes of sparkling lights hovered around me as the waves crashed (weakly, sad to say) below me.

This kind of beauty fills me with intense and deep emotions that unsettle me. I would describe them as “actionable emotions”…meaning the intensity of my feelings make me want to “DO” something, but I have no idea what. Write poetry, save the world, jump in, travel far away, make love to my wife, preach an inspiring sermon to billions of rapt devotees. Instead, I sit there, vaguely inspired to act, yet trapped in a pressing stasis. I suppose I’d pick a beautiful world over an ugly one, but I wonder if there’s such a thing as too much beauty. Perhaps beauty can become a narcissistic mirror for our lives; inspiring us to action while it ironically ensnares us in it’s immobile aura.

If you’re still reading this, you’re nuts.

This is the way I think when my wife and family are gone…and they’ve only been gone 3 days. For financial reasons, I’ve sent them on to Colorado with my parents where they’ll remain for the rest of this year. The Bible verse about it being “not good” for a man to be “alone” is too true. Having wrapped my life around them, when they are suddenly gone, I end up with too much time on my hands. Too much time translates into boredom, some loneliness and thinking that can get a little to deeeep. Prozac may help, but I’ve found that the best antidote for depression is found in surrounding yourself with generally happy people and staying busy. I’m supposed to be away from them for the entire months of November, January, February, March, April and May. Probably part of June too. I’m not sure I can handle that. But staying together translates into HUGE amounts of money that we shouldn’t spend. There was a time when traveling the world sounded so exciting and romantic and inspiring to me. But without my girls, the idea is “folley and chasing after the wind”.

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