How did I get here?

And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?                         -Talking Heads

 

A middle aged father, critical care physician, triathlete, water polo goalie and Bob Mould stalker wakes up one day and asks, “How did I get here?”

The answer to that is probably longer than what is appropriate for this blog, the human attention span being what it is. But that question along with its logical follow up, “where am I going?” has been on my mind quite a bit.

How did I get here? Where am I going? My past. My future. With change coming just around the corner, it’s hard not to have my headspace taken up by these questions. But with some more introspection, I find that this is my brain’s default; to be looking forwards or backwards. I can be in the middle of a long run or bike ride, but instead of seeing the countryside around me, my eyes focus on last week’s battles with the kids, wishing for a “do over”.  Or I fail to see the sunrise in front of me, on my morning drive to work, as I have already mentally dived into the ICU to deal with the overnight admissions.

My past. My future.

But what about my present?

Being in the moment. The here and now. Mindfulness. So many ways to describe what I often lack. But finding the right words will not provide a solution to my problem. At the age of 46, I do understand I am wired a certain way. Worrying about the past, of mistakes made and lessons learned, is part of who I am. So is the well-being and security of my family. I prepare for the worst, hope for the best. But with this mindset, I often miss the present, not seeing the sunrise right in front of my eyes.

I used to read a lot, often juggling many books at the same time . Tired mornings, as a result of overnight marathon binge book readings, were a frequent occurrence. Now I find, yesterday’s memories and tomorrow’s concerns make it impossible to focus on the pages in front of me. It literally takes the pounding beat of my favorite band or artist playing live a few feet in front of me to keep me anchored in the moment. My concentration and focus, even fueled by an endless stream of Cafe Americanos, is constantly challenged.

And so it is that this blog presents a bit of a paradox. More and more I feel my writing will somehow play a role in my future. My stories require me to go back and relive my past, which in turn, helps me answer the question, “How did I get here?” But not necessarily how to live better in the moment.

I started this blog back in 2013, in part to simply start writing again. But also to help process and find balance between the different hats I wear. I have written about being a father watching his teenage kids grow up way too fast. (Bittersweet, Focus, Sixteen, Sixteen Redux). I have shared my struggles with the changes that are taking place. (Clarity of the Unknown, Ch Ch Ch Changes, Changes Redux ). I have talked about Decisions that led me to being a critical care doctor. I have talked about triathlons and water polo and my aches and pains (DissonanceReset, Family, Building Blocks). I have chronicled my experiences with yoga (Disequilibrium).

Balance. That was why I started writing. With the recent success and attention of certain posts, I have been tempted to shift my focus to more of my medically related experiences. My twenty-three year road from medical student to pulmonary and critical care attending has played a central part of my life,  but it is only one of many roads travelled. To exclude some paths from exploration would not be true to my original goal. But I cannot escape the fact that the last 18 years in medicine have shaped and colored my views on pretty much everything that matters in my world.

So instead of narrowing my focus, I plan to add one more challenge to the balancing act of my life. I will continue to travel back into my past and share what I feel is important. Through this process, I hope to find my path forward.  But not at the expense of missing the sunrise right before my eyes.

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