Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Playing Like Miles

Author: I found in an old box some of my past ...Image via Wikipedia

It's a lovely early autumn day in Maine. The asters (I think that's what they are) in the yard are pastel blue and while the trees aren't turning yet, I see traces of yellow here and there. Autumn is also the time when fourth year medical students begin applying for residency positions and my entering class is no different. They are and I'm not.

Now the reason is, of course, because I elected to do medical school in five, rather than the traditional four, years. I made that decision early in my second term and haven't looked back. Still, there are times when it's easy to feel, I don't know, wistful? I knew this was coming, it was part of the package, and no surprises. But I see my friends moving on, a year ahead of me, and I want to call, "Wait up!" And, naturally, they can't, nor should they.

In situations like this, there really are few choices. Either we ignore how we feel, fall into depression, or find ways to cope. The first is no good because suppressed feelings are notorious for cropping up in ways we least expect. Like it or not, we're stuck with them, so we may as well get used to it. Getting the blues is normal, but settling down to live with them only works if you live in New Orleans and can play the horn like Miles Davis. I'm a guitar man, so that's out. I guess I'll have to cope, eh?

Coping's good, it really is. Coping means getting creative, making connections with new friends, maintaining them with my pals who will become my teachers in another year, and contributing to life in the space where I find myself. Coping keeps us healthy and, don't tell anyone but I think it keeps us young, too. It teaches us to how to find joy and pleasure in situations others might find unbearable. Sure, I'd rather be applying for residency, but since I'm not, I may as well cope. It's not such a bad alternative when you think about it.

Peter Buitelaar
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