Well, I’m back to having weird dreams. These last few nights, I’ve been dreaming that I’ve been running into old classmates from my residency days, and they are all more successful and fabulously better-looking than me. It’s no mystery where this came from. It came from the Auto Show.
I was standing next to the Pontiac Solstice, with my left hand stroking the hood and my right hand gesturing to Mrs. Balabusta as if to say, “Here it is, my new car.” And Mrs. B shot a look back at me which said, in effect, “You are the biggest loser I have ever seen,” when this guy came up to me from behind and said, “Hey, Mark!”
I turned around and saw this guy that I recognized from about 12 or 13 years ago. He looked great, his wife looked great, and we chatted briefly about what we’ve been doing with our lives and careers over the past decade and a half.
And then he left and I said, “Man, I really wish I knew who that was.”
But it came to me as we strolled around the show, and I even remembered his name after a while, which was reassuring. He was a guy I trained with (tangentially, at any rate) in my Internal Medicine residency in the early 90’s. And then the dreams came back.
Over the years I’ve had them, and they seem to reflect my concern that maybe I haven’t done as much with my life as I should have, and that maybe my old classmates have surpassed me professionally and economically and socially and that I have no one to blame but myself for my own inadequacy. It’s a little ironic that this latest kick comes at the Auto Show, as I’m looking to replace the car that I’ve been driving since I was actually in residency.
So maybe I’m not Chief of Medicine at Massachusetts General, and maybe I don’t have a house in Aspen and maybe I can’t afford to take a yearly trip with the family to Israel. The truth is that I have not been wasting my time. I have been raising 6 talented children, the oldest of which is in college and was just made Opinions Editor of her school paper, and has 2 internet radio shows. Yes, I see in her some of the over-ambitiousness that marked my college years, what with the double-major, double-minor, multiple band thing going on at the time.
And I guess I’m still busy multitasking as always, with family, career, shul, kollel, band(s) and blog(s) going full steam. So why feel bad? Maybe I should look at this as a good thing. Complacency is bad. It leads to stagnation, then regression. I should continue to want more, to strive for more. To feel hungry.
Maybe I just need a little kick in the pants every now and then to tell me, “Hey, the game’s not over. Keep moving!”