Friday, September 5, 2008
I've become a huge fan of the Wire. The wife and I have churned through seasons 1 and 2 in a few weeks and now we're on to season three. Best show I've ever seen. It's not even close. In the clip above, we have the old veteran detective Freamon teaching the incorrigible McNulty a little lesson about the difference between the life we lead at the "job" (whatever that may be) and the time we spend at home; our hidden, often unacknowledged life. It could just as easily be an old surgeon like Sid Schwab giving a young guy like myself some wisdom.
In medicine, it's easy to get caught up in the Job. It's a rush. It's exciting to come into the hospital most days. Every case is a new adventure. You can change someone's life either by making a crucial diagnosis or performing a timely procedure. There are few career options that are so privileged. It's the best job in the world, as far as I'm concerned.
But in the end, it's still just one facet of my life. As Freamon says, "how do you think it all ends?" There will always be another case. Another sick patient. Another complication. Another chance to to do some good. But it never ends. And it keeps going long after we've shuffled off this mortal coil. Life is more than the Job. It has to be or else you'll eventually be overwhelmed by despair, as you realize that you can't fix everyone. There has to be something else outside the hospital, something that is an alternative source of edification. Life goes on when you turn off your pager. It's all around us, everywhere we go. Sitting here writing this, it's happening to me right now.
Eventually there will be no Job to save us. And it's up to us to make something of those rainy Saturday afternoons, the quiet Wednesday night in winter, the 16th anniversary dinner date with your wife, the lonesome retirement, the empty house when the kids have grown and moved on. These aren't just events to fill the gaps between the hours you spend working as a doctor; this is the essence of life itself. As Lester eloquently states, "life is the s*** that happens while you wait for moments that never come."
Anyway, sorry to get all corny and depressing on everyone. I suppose I do need a vacation. Fortunately the rental house has WiFi so I may post a story or two from the beach...