A close friend of many years recently chuckled after I explained my desire to become a doctor.
FRIEND: "Didn't you decide about 7 years ago that you didn't want to be a doctor because it would take you 7 years to do it?"
ME: (awkward thinking smile) "I know, it's crazy isn't it. I can barely believe it myself."
Time is a funny thing and despite all our dependency on the consistency of time, it seems to change... or perhaps our perception of time changes. Either way, time can be a struggle.
My friend was right. I did indeed view the medical pipeline with fear and the encroaching thought -- "dang, I would miss so many great surf sessions being in school for so long." So, I must ask myself this question, "What has changed?"
One thing is for sure, my perspective on time has changed dramatically.
As a young dude of 16, I doubted that I would survive the age of 21. In my mind I would have either drowned after attempting some wildly stupid surfing feat or I'd be martyred in some third world village for preaching the gospel. Seriously, this was my thought process. Doesn't leave much room for a 7 year medical program. Besides, I only wanted to be a doctor so that I could get into closed countries like Saudi Arabia or North Korea.
Today I see time differently. I am a happily married man, which also means that I get to make love to my wife (something I'll never miss a chance to thank God for publicly... I waited a long time:). There is often a by-product of this happily married love making industrial complex and those are babies.
In comes a new paradigm for my short sighted, 'I'll be dead tomorrow' surfer outlook.
All you socially and culturally advanced people may see all this as silliness. You probably planned your life at age 10... well, not me. It has taken me many years to come to a point where the lives of my children's children inspire me and inform my desires for today and the future.
With posterity in mind, I have come to the conclusion that medicine, but more specifically health and healing are worthwhile investments into the future. I want to be the grandpa that put away funds for my granddaughters education. I want to be the grandpa doc that still takes calls on sundays and will get up late at night to help a neighbor in need. I want to begin a legacy for our posterity that says, "serving people is the most valuable thing I can do with the privilege of life."
I chuckle about my wandering circuitous path back to medicine. But I wouldn't change a thing, my struggle with time has left me doing a balancing act between long-term investment and living every day as if it were one's last mark on the earth.
They say that the true adventure is in the journey. Well, I'm glad I like adventure because my journey into medicine is going to be a long one.