Playground 4

Playground 4

Sometimes I focus on what is right in front of me.  Most of the time I have my sights elsewhere.  Sometimes anywhere but right in front of me.  I look far in to the future at the goal.  I keep it focused.  That is what I was ”trained” to do.  (Surgeons use the word ”trained” when we speak about our education.  If helps us remember working like dogs during our residencies.  We use the word with pride.  Seriously.)

The delayed gratification of my education was extreme.  I was in school and being trained (yippee!) for 17 (seventeen)(1-7) years after high school.  ”Hey son, hold your breath, stand on your head.  Now stand on his head.  You got it.  Wait for it…wait for it…” etc. Now I am a surgeon.  It is a privilege. I mean that.  I arrived, but not without a price. What did I miss along the way?  Or give up?  I lost one marriage to a good person, I lost many friends for lack of time. etc. I think everyone could tell a story of loss or delayed gratification.  Another deeply ingrained lesson on delayed gratification I grew up with was heaven.

Heaven is not here, nor is hell, I learned.  Here is good..or bad, as the case may be, but it is neither as good nor as bad as it could be, will be.  Just wait.  This created lots of anxiety in me.  I mean, the real deal, existential angst (second time I have used that term in 24 hours–sorry Claire, if you are reading this).  I still have it sometimes, but I am now asking questions about the mysterious and underrated Present.  I like the name even: sounds like a gift.

The good part about the present is that it is always with us and it is everything I know about anything.  If I am not in the present and I am stuck then things change, and not for the good. Stuck in the past is shame.  Stuck in the future is fear.  I will repeat that.  The past is shame.  The future is fear. When I get stuck on either end of the pendulum of time, I miss the flow of it.  Even though I am sure that the present is where I really am, I don’t think it is  static.  The present moves just great, like a river.  When I live in the present, the past is experienced as memory and the future is dreams.  I like those better than the sticky shameful past and the paralyzed fearful future.

Bend, OR 2006, Nikon D100

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4 Responses to Playground 4

  1. Amanda says:

    Hi Stephen
    Your photographs are beautiful and I admire how honestly you write. You make me think. Even though I have not been leaving comments, I have been reading and looking at your blog. I just wanted to say this because I have a blog too and sometimes I am not sure if anyone is looking at it. But then people tell me they are – just as I am now 🙂

    • stephenarcher says:

      Exactly. know how you feel. I have a subscription to your site as well. thanks. It does make a difference.

  2. Another good one!
    If you were to ask me which one I’d prefer to have with me “a close friend” or a “good surgeon”, I’d have to say “a close friend”. But let a few circumstances change and I’d hope that “a close friend” was in the Waiting Room while the “good surgeon”, who spent 17 years in highly specialized training and made tremendous sacrifices, was keenly focused at what he does best.
    I’m glad we can have both.
    Recently, I connected with an old friend who I hadn’t heard from for many years, it turns out that he had made the exact sacrifices you did. Years after he became the “good surgeon”, he operated on my father-in-law, and believe me…I’m glad he made those sacrifices.
    So it’s good to have both in this world…and, by the way, he has a great blog too!

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