Saturday, April 20, 2013

Show Time

My daughter is surrounded by a gaggle of small girls. Half the cohort marches forward gingerly on their skates while others have learned to glide.  It is the first act of a two hour ice show at the local rink.  The little ones have been practicing every week for the last few months.  This is their first attempt at performance.

As the show progresses, the age and the skill set of the skaters improves. Those of us in the crowd can tell fairly quickly the talent of the soloists.  Some have the God given grace and bearing of performance, even though they have not yet mastered the intricate movements.  Others hit the jumps cleanly, but somehow struggle with the appropriate posture.

Then, then there are the ones who have it all.  We hold our breath as they speed by and effortlessly nail a series of complex moves.  It's almost easy to forget that years of practice have lead to this moment.  While their friends were clowning around on the weekend, these teens were in the rink sweating: before school, after school, on holidays. 

As my daughter waddles off the ice to the rousing applause of the audience, I wonder what her future will hold.  The same goes for my son and the violin.  Will these be just passing fancies or something more? 

It certainly never happened for me.

Growing up, there were no sports I excelled at, no instruments that bent nimbly under my fingers.  And I regret it.  I regret not becoming a gymnast or concert pianist. 

But I wouldn't say I wasted my youth.

I was in the library.  Locked in my bedroom, I poured over school books hour after hour.  knowing I wanted to be a doctor since preschool didn't make the subjects any easier.  I struggled.

While my friends in high school were cruising chicks at Northbrook Court, I was buried in algebra.  I spent countless Saturday mornings in the law library while the rest of my dorm was getting drunk at the football stadium.

I remember each test, each landmark: the SATs, The MCATS, Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, and the Internal Medicine boards.   How many little moments go into artistry?  I stumbled through the first patient encounter.  I tripped over diagnosis after diagnosis.  One day I was a resident, the next a full fledged attending. 

Although what I do may not always be pretty, I perform each and every office visit.  This is my art. 

This my triple axle. 

Sometimes I nail it.  Others, I fall on my rear.

Take away the computers and the annoying paperwork, it's just me and the patient sitting in the exam room.

I prepare my instrument and flex my calf muscles.

It's show time.

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