A Midwinter Down… and an Upcoming Adventure

Snow_Stonington_020814I do not want to be writing this. I am having a down time. Some work I was hoping for did not materialize. I am eight months into the Gap Year. It has been a good eight months. It could have been better.

I did not get done as much as I hoped to. My plans for next year have not coalesced. I have shed my past and have enjoyed my medical rants (here, here and here) while trying to find the new me. I have a few ideas for growth.

I am aware that down times must occur during a Gap Year. One cannot rebuild until things have been taken apart.

I missed some winter storms

I have missed a good deal of the winter excitement, having been out West when there were storms in the East or having been North when there were storms in the South. But now there is a nice snowstorm in Maine and I am hunkered down. But I am not enjoying it because I am feeling guilty that I am not getting anything done.

I have not been able to get hooked into the state political campaign as I had hoped. Perhaps my plan of meeting with health care providers was a bit grandiose. The truth is I have not been asked to do much. Still, I feel I have underperformed. I have a bit more time to redeem myself but not much.

Gorillas and lemurs

We are planning to leave on our exotic Africa trip in less than two weeks. We will visit Uganda where we will work at a vocational school in Bududa and go on a gorilla trek in the Bwindi Impenetrable Park. Then we will visit Madagascar where we will dodge typhoons (it’s the rainy season) and stalk lemurs. Madagascar is a dream destination for me. This trip is designed to take us out of the usual tourist bubble. It is designed to take us out of our comfort zone. It is certainly doing that. I am apprehensive.

So much hard work being done in this seacoast town

There is a never ending political dialogue in Maine about welfare, unemployment, poverty, drug abuse, crime and all their inter-relationships. I can see it in my geographic community. But the overwhelming impression I have is the hard work done by the eclectic mix of people throughout this town. The fishermen epitomize this. I feel guilty as I look out at the snow blowing and the men and women going down to the sea to fish or, worse yet, when I think of my daughter studying heroically during her surgical training.

I have to get back to doing something, or being something, worthwhile.

Now I must shovel some snow.

10 Responses to A Midwinter Down… and an Upcoming Adventure

  1. Cooky B. February 8, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    I so enjoy reading your Gap Year reports and this one really struck me. It’s been 9 months since my official retirement from NY State Dept. of Education, where I had the most stressful job imaginable…125 inner city, poverty students every day under No Child Left Behind and and an administration that harassed me for being white to the point of my having to take a medical leave or have a nervous breakdown. I was so mentally ill, I was scratching myself and bleeding through my clothes (my principal told me to put on extra shirts and band aids as I was upsetting the kids).

    I too can’t get used to it…”I should be,” “I need to be,” “I have to”….How can it be so hard to just enjoy life, but I am finding it a challenge.

    • Sam February 12, 2014 at 8:19 am #

      Cooky, thank you. It is hard for me to let go of “should” but sometimes I can. Sam

  2. Maureen Farr February 8, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    Three years ago, I took off with my dog for a cross country road trip that I thought would be two months. It was exactly four months to the day when I returned.

    I carried “work” with me all across and up and down this great country, but never did any. Instead, I lived each day for what it was — an open door to whatever came our way. I blogged every day, so in some way that was my work.

    I don’t regret not working for four months. And to this day, I dream of the time when I can take off gypsying with my dog again.

    Cherish what you have done by taking your gap year, try to let go of the very real affliction of “doing” that our generation has taken on, and all will be fine!

    • Sam February 12, 2014 at 9:41 am #

      Thank you, I am trying to find the balance.

  3. Susan Martin February 9, 2014 at 3:42 am #

    You are my elder in very many ways but I can’t help myself from blurting out ‘Sam, for goodness sake stop being so hard on yourself!’. I am sure you have heard the corny saying that we are ‘human beings not human doings’ but we seem to have fallen for the latter hook line and sinker. You have worked hard for many years, I am certain you are a fine doctor who is held in esteem and owed much by many for restoring/maintaining their health and you have a successful marriage and family life. Yet you still seem to think less of yourself based on your level of daily activity and because of disappointing results that were likely mostly out of your control.

    • Sam February 12, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      Susan, thank you. You are right on target. Working on being a being. Sam

  4. Lisa February 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm #


    I so appreciate your openness and willingness to be vulnerable. I will offer no suggestions for ‘remedying’ your current state. Simply gratitude for the time that you have taken throughout your journey to share your experiences and perspectives with us, your readers.

    I hear your heartfelt quest for meaning of your own making as you journey through the end of what was towards a new beginning yet unfolded. I sense that you have all the wisdom within to navigate the unchartered waters… And in the process bring many along with you.

    • Sam February 12, 2014 at 9:50 am #

      Lisa, I appreciate your thoughts. Giving up a successful medical practice was the right thing for me at this time, but it is still quite a lot to leave behind.I know it will take more time to find the new me and I know I will get there eventually. Thank you, Sam

  5. Roger C. Parker February 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Dear Sam:
    I was concerned about your temporary discontent; but, as I’m sure Debbie has told you, it goes with the territory.

    More important, I want to encourage you to continue and expand your exploration and development of the Medical Industrial Complex, as introduced in your blog post of January 11, Sam Channels Eisenhower: Cracking Open the Medical-Industrial Complex.

    That post was a turning point.

    In that post, you have the basis of something incredibly important, and I hope you make it your mission to develop the topic to the fullest. The topic needs to be developed, and nobody is addressing it.

    The changes in patient care that have taken place in a relatively prosperous area of 50 thousand during the past 2 or 3 years are totally off the wall, souring 35-year patient-doctor relationships and creating continuing chaos.

    Best wishes on your journey.

    • Sam February 12, 2014 at 10:08 am #

      Roger, I appreciate your thoughts. The Medical Industrial Complex really is a threat and I will be writing more about it. Today’s news articles on the Canadian National Breast Screening Study http://nyti.ms/1eSbFcm make that point clear. Despite the mounting evidence that the benefit of intense mammography screening programs is hard to demonstrate, every for profit system and provider continue s to push for more screening and more technology. Over screening will lead to over diagnosis and over treatment. Over treatment will harm some patients. We need to right size screening programs for all applicable illnesses but the MIC works against us. More to come after our Africa journeys. Sam

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