Monday, January 2, 2017
Beginning around mid-December, I developed a growing sense of melancholy and fatigue. I suspect I was getting psychologically burnt-out following a few stressful months. This led to a period of prolonged introspection, and a couple of scattered realizations.
* There is a need for times of personal leisure and idleness. It would be mistaken to view leisure simply as time to recover to work again. It is not just a break from work in the service of productivity, but a goal in itself. It provides creative and emotional breathing space for the mind. The recreational artistic, literary and philosophical pursuits are among the things which make life worthwhile. I had forgotten this for a while, and I have suffered as a result.
* I also became aware that my life had become too busy and I was taking on too many projects and responsibilities. I had to take a step back to ask myself why am I doing what I am doing, and what am I getting out of it. This introspection into my motivations led to a simplification of what I had been planning to do in 2017, and I ended up discarding many plans that had seemed important to me earlier but no longer seem to have any enduring value in my educational and career development.
* I have been seeking opportunities for further research training after residency, and I was getting incredibly frustrated by the fact that my particular personal and marital circumstances were making it impossible for me to pursue many of these options. When it came to potential work options, I was so focused on the prestige of the position and the institution that I was ignoring there is more to work and career than that. Equally important, if not more so, is the workplace culture and relationships, and the need to balance career with family and personal life. If a prestigious career comes at the cost of the impoverishment of my personal life, is it really worth it? It would be unwise to tie my happiness to things that are inconsequential in the end.
* There is something to be said about the great fortune of having a great group of friends, yet it does not entirely make up for the lack of great individual friends. The ideal of a great friendship I have in my mind is perhaps too idealistic: presence of common passions and interests; emotional intimacy; a friend who is appropriately non-judgmental; intellectually open; artistically curious; there is mutual admiration; there is available time and energy for frequent-enough interactions (whether in person or virtual); and lastly there is an element of platonic love. Despite this being too idealistic, I am fortunate to have had a few friends over the course of my life where the friendship came pretty darn close. While I have a great group of friends at present, possibly the best group friendship I've had, I do not have an individual relationship that comes anywhere close to this idealistic notion. I suppose it is too much to ask this of life. The lack, nonetheless, make me feel quite alone at times.
Much of what is above consists of rehashed truisms; no insight is in any way remarkable or original, yet, the psychological realization of the truth of a cliched truism is quite another thing.