WINDING DOWN YEARS
It started before I got out of bed this morning. I woke up thinking about what someone once wrote: “…never was a man so unafraid of his destiny”. That quote played an instrumental role in my journey many years ago by allowing me to think about my own destiny. Until then, destiny was an idea I attributed only to larger than life historical figures. It was a revelation to realize I too could claim what I considered to be my destiny - a life that combined both medicine and art.
Lying in bed it occurred to me that although I have been living it, I no longer had that confident grasp on my destiny. The solid foundation underlying my life for the past 30 years was slowly beginning to weaken as doubts and insecurities began to find there way into my head. I thought of myself as being in those “winding down” years, where it is difficult to look very far ahead. I approached my morning journal intending to write something about this and was immediately struck with doubt and misgivings.
What am I thinking, that it is time to pack up and dust off the rocking chair? That instead of exploring and pushing at the boundaries with new work I should be content with looking back and reminiscing? This is absurd. Is there some biological clock that tells us it is time to slow down and begin looking back instead of ahead? I don’t think so. Granted, there is a natural tendency to do this as we reach these later years, approaching work, and life, with a bit more deliberate and critical thinking. And if we’re lucky, there may be some wisdom somewhere that we can draw on (no pun intended). Yes, it is difficult to see a long-term destiny when we reach the 80th decade and beyond, but that only means our energies are focused on the work in front of us today. We not only can, but must continue to explore and create. Long-term plans now span 1-2 years and not 10-20, and what the work may lack in terms of grand, sweeping ambition it makes up for in its intensity and commitment. I once made a promise to myself and to every patient that I left behind that my goal was create the best art that I am capable of doing. I intend to honor that promise.