Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Harmony, An Introduction: Sunday musings…9/22/19

Sunday musings…

1) Cat. I’m allergic. Pretty sure the barn cat is aware of that.

The barn cat who insists on sitting on my lap while I type “musings…”

2) Fashion. Happens every year around this time. All of the large national papers have a big, glossy magazine filled with the latest creations from the world of fashion. The stuff for women is wacky enough, but have you seen the garbage they have created for men?! Seriously, have you ever seen anyone wear an asymmetric suit larger than the one the guy from the Talking Heads wore in the “Stop Making Sense” tour video?

That trees were felled or energy created to send the electrons over the internet for this crap is criminal. Sheesh.

3) Emmys. Tonight we here in Cleveland will have to choose between the televised spectacles of the Emmy Awards and the Baker Mayfield Show. Both will feature suspense of some sort; it’s a done deal that something or someone will go off the rails in both. With the Browns seemingly on the brink of relevance and the Emmy Awards stepping back from the brink of irrelevance by acknowledging so-called “new media” productions, one of the side effects is that there is a renewed interest in the historical excellence of both. I’ll not bore you with tales of Jim Brown or Otto Graham; it’s really more fun to talk about historically important TV shows IMO.

Parade Magazine listed 20 of the top TV shows of all time. Pretty good list, actually. You probably have seen a bunch of similar lists if you are a TV watcher. Not much to quibble about on a list of 20. I would have added something like Happy Days. Maybe subbed out “Friends” for Seinfeld. Still, pretty good list. What are your favorites? Pretty easy question for me, as is the “favorite movie” question (Shawshank Redemption): Hill Street Blues (medical school) and M*A*S*H (college and med school).

What I love about TV now is both the current “binge-worthy” shows that I can watch like a really long movie (or a non-Stop “Roots”) as well as re-runs and anthologies of classic shows, especially comedies and variety shows. Like Carol Burnett. I am convulsed in spasms of laughter each time I see Tim Conway and the “Elephant” skit that cracks up the entire cast. Another treat with the Emmy Awards and nostalgia is trivia. Did you know that only one person ever turned down The Carol Burnett Show? Bette Midler.

Betting she wishes she had that one back.

4) Harmony. My day job, as you may know, is medical. I am an eye surgeon. My side gigs involve a little bit of creativity and communication. I write both as release/escape and as a service to my colleagues who spend the lion’s share of their work time in front of patients or in the OR. Same thing with speaking; I am either speaking as an educator (sponsored or not), or working behind the scenes representing my fellow clinicians.

This weekend was a bit different, though. My colleague Alice graciously invited me to be the Keynote speaker at the annual educational meeting put on by her group’s foundation. I gave two clinical lectures on topics I am known for and know very well. It was the third talk, though, that was different. At the end of the long day of very technical lectures I gave a talk about the challenges of being happy, especially (in this group) for physicians. This was a talk born out of discussions that Beth and I have had with Megan over the last several months, and the joy of putting it together is that I have been privileged by the inspiration the Megan has given me through her insights. Here, then, is a small introduction to our thoughts as I prepare a “long read” version for a later post.

We have been bombarded with the conflicting impacts of a need to “have it all” and what we are told is the need for something called “work/life balance”. What is implied, if not outright declared, is that happiness can only be achieved if one is able to achieve or acquire both. Having it all and a work/life balance, that is. In reality there is no such thing as a work/life balance. It is a false construct. Work is a part of life. It’s all “life”. In a similar vein, what is implied by “having it all” is actually “having everything”. This is, of course, impossible. No one can have everything. You can have it all only if you recognize and accept two tiny little “buts”:

You have to choose what “All” is, and you can’t have it “all” at the same time.

Your choices have consequences, not only in terms of what you choose to include in your “All” but also when you choose to include those things. Happiness occurs not when you have balance because balance never occurs; something is always underweighted (or not chosen at all) so that something may be chosen and emphasized. Happiness occurs when your choices flow into and out of one another in a way that they do not conflict. Think of your favorite song, sung or played in key, each or the pieces parts moving in and out of the spotlight, sometimes leading and other times simply supporting. Megan and I like the image of a fountain, it’s shape and size built by you to reflect the choices you’ve made about what will be part of “All” for you. Water flows up and over, around and through, it’s speed and volume and direction the result of what you need and want at any given time.

Too much flow and you run out of water; you tried to have everything, or you tried to have it “All” at the same time. Too little flow and you wither; life and living is an active pursuit of both mind and body. Harmony occurs when every surface of your fountain is bathed in flow at some point, neither overflowing nor draining away. Your fountain rests in the larger body of water that is humanity, the fountains of friends and family nearby, sharing the collective stream.

Happiness is possible when there is harmony between the choices you have made. You can’t have everything. You can have it all, just not at the same time. You have to choose what “All” is and when you will have each part of it.

I’ll see you next week…

Leave a Reply