Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

Cape Cod

Sunday musings…4/7/2024

1 One way. As in street. I am back in Boston, the “big city” of my youth. Construction, weather, and the signature headache of traversing Beantown, the one-way street. Perhaps the only thing GPS hasn’t really, truly mastered.

Still the same brutal pain in the ass in 2024 that it was in 1974.

2 Leveler. Flight #1 cancelled, thankfully at 0400. Flight #2 postponed 2 1/2 hrs. Eventual arrival in Boston proper 0200 the next day.

Really, even a true snowbelt city is subject to the leveling effect of the wind.

3 Kalends, Ides, and Nones. “Beware the Ides of March.” Perhaps the most famous calendar reference in history. From the Latin calendar, the “Ides” fell on the 15th day of March, May, July, and October, and on the 13th of the other months. Did you know that? That the “Ides” wasn’t always the 15th of the month? No? Me either.

Turns out the Romans were into naming days. The first day of each month was known as the “Kalend”. Get it? Calendar. Ya, didn’t know that either. How about the “Nones”? The 7th day of March, May, July and October and the 5th of the other months. Any idea why?


4 Rearview mirror. This weekend I’ve been attending a conference being held in the “big city” of my childhood, Boston. Childhood home to my Dad. The first city out of which I ever flew. It’s been at least 10 years since this meeting called Boston home. After United took over Continental we began to fly in and out of Boston for our visits to Rhode Island. Now that my Dad is gone and my Mom has moved to Ohio, Boston has been turned into little more than a business trip and a rail stop.

What of our other cities and towns? Southbridge and Lincoln for me. Philly and the Lancaster area for Beth. Our ancestral “villages” if you will. The trip to Boston this weekend feels different now that my Mom is in Ohio. Each time I’ve been here for business over the course of my life I’ve either squeezed in a trip home or been squeezed by guilt because I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. My next opportunity may come in 2028 if it comes at all. After a final visit to to scatter their parents’ ashes, Churchtown may have seen the last of the Hurst girls. No opportunity appears on the horizon.

Honestly, this is weird. At no time in my life did it ever occur to me that the towns that domiciled my family, the towns that housed the halls of my education, that they would all cease to be destinations. Only memories, visited in daydreams.

Images that appear forever in the rearview mirror.

5 Ready? I guess this one could have been another “calendar” note. The years have passed and my days of visiting “home” have passed with them. Calendars are a measure of time, not unlike clocks or hourglasses, just a bit slower. This weekend I had the opportunity to share some advice with professional colleagues who are either surgeons like me, or folks who work for companies that make some of the tools and medicines we use. Much of the advice hinged on time and timing, the intersection of readiness and opportunity.

When is it your time? It always arrives. Your time, that is. Your “time” might be a problem, or an opportunity that arises. Your time either arrives when you are not ready, or you move as if it’s time but it really isn’t. Or it might be your time, maybe, but whether or not it is you just aren’t ready. And of course, sometimes the time is just right.

That even confuses ME, to be honest, even though I just wrote it!

Here’s what I mean by that convoluted koan: as I shared several times with my colleagues this weekend there is an intersection between readiness and opportunity, a coming together of the right thing at the right time such that something really good happens. For instance, you may have a singularly brilliant idea, something so far ahead of everything else in its space that it will be revolutionary. But the timing is off; you aren’t on the LEADING edge, you are so far out in front that you are on the BLEEDING edge. YOU might be ready, but it’s not yet time. Think the Apple Newton, the founding of a fully consumer-facing eyecare business just before the Great Recession or, you know, Crossfit ca. 1999.

On the other hand there may appear an opportunity which by all accounts is pretty much EXACTLY what you need right at that exact time. But you aren’t ready. A perfect job opens 2000 miles away, but the love of your life has 2 years to go for a degree. A trusted friend on the cusp of a success for the ages urges you to quit your “dead-end” job, the one that is paying you so much that you really can’t walk away from it just then to take what might be a dream job working with a friend. The culmination of your life’s mission is there for the taking, but reaching for it means leaving behind everything that you’d built AROUND that mission. Or it might be something as simple as not being ready for a “standard issue” life step like college right after high school or a job right after college.

Here I think, is the teachable moment, the guts of my advice: sometimes the hardest thing to do is to identify that one half of the equation has not reached a point of readiness, whether it’s the “you” part or the “opportunity” part. Several of my friends are sitting on one side or the other of this very thing. Failure to identify this almost guarantees that execution will fail, be only partially successful, or even very unsatisfactory. Once this mis-match has been identified, however, rational choices can be made. Strategy can be mapped out and tactics chosen.

Sometimes the best of these is to simply soldier on despite the fact that one part or the other isn’t ready (think Crossfit workout). Other times it’s best to drop back and re-group, prepare to re-engage at some time in the future if and when readiness and opportunity intersect (think Apple and the Newton, the re-boot of that consumer-focused eyecare company post-Recession). Either way, whether it’s you not ready for the world or the world not ready for you, the first step is to not ignore the fact that SOMEBODY isn’t ready.

And that once they are something really good happens.

I’ll see you next week…

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