I've been asked the question quite frequently, "what are you going to do with your summer?" My first gut reaction was, "not a damned thing." Typically, med students do one of three things. They either do research, a preceptorship or they travel. Research? Been there, done that and see no reason to do any measly experiments only lasting a month or two. Hell, we used to have projects that'd go for years and more than half the time the experiments didn't work properly. Preceptorship? It's more clinical exposure and that interested me. Unfortunately, my class seems to be rich in gunners and overachievers because by the time our advisers had gone over the program, they were already full. Scratch that. Travel? Going to Guatemala and working in a clinic, while interesting, isn't exactly practical in my situation. Besides, I scratched that itch to some extent in college.
And as I pondered it some more, I don't really want to accomplish anything this summer. The question is more properly framed as what do I want to experience? When I ask it that way, it became a bit easier to answer and it breaks down into two parts. There are purely selfish desires and I mean that in the best possible way. And then there are ones that focus on relationships, two specifically.
For myself, I want and need to recharge my batteries. And that means paying attention to the more creative side of me. It'll involve some hiking and kayaking trips, some by myself but some especially with my son. His Leydig cells are really starting to pump out the ol' testosterone so he's keen on hitting the wilds in a very masculine and primal way.
I'm also going to read. Before med school, I started reading the Modern Library's Top 100 fiction in english during the 20th century. Some like Lolita or Heart of Darkness, I found abysmal. I would recommend those only as punishment. Others, like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (obviously given the title of my blog) or Of Human Bondage I found moving and beautiful. In no small way, those books will impact my abilities as a doctor more than many of my classes. Great writers know the human condition in ways that medical school simply cannot teach. So I'm going to plow through some more after just finishing The Catcher in the Rye. It had some interesting aspects that I can relate to being a doctor so that'll be a separate post.
But as I get older, relationships become more important. Since I'm not gainfully employed doing research or a preceptorship and I can't use the excuse of "I'm studying", I needed some way to bring in a bit of change. My dad asked me, half jokingly, if I wanted to mow yards like old times. Now, you must understand that I hated mowing yards and have absolutely no desire to go back to doing it. But, when I did do it, I got to know my dad in a way that I never had before. In between lawns, we'd sit and talk about philosophy, religion and the meaning of life. I can remember commenting on how surreal it would be if someone were to happen upon one of our conversations. Here were two blue collar, no, that'd be more a brown collar from the dirt if there even was a collar, who for all intents purposes look akin to those workers smuggled across our Texan border to mow yards, but we were debating Calvinistic theology. That exchange would be fun to revisit now that we're both at different stages of our lives.
Since my brother's diagnosis of carcinoma, I've tried to be his staunchest advocate in the foreign language that is medicine and that meant setting aside my emotions many of the times because that's what was required. Since he's just a little halfway through chemo and doing great, I feel like I'd like to take the white coat off a bit and just be his brother from time to time. Over the past couple of weeks, he's really opened up and I'd like to get to know that side of him more intimately.
So, yeah, I guess I do have some things I want to do this summer.