Friday, October 23, 2015

The Woods at Dusk

There are eleven things worth living for today, I reckon.

1) Dogs. Dogs who like to run. Dogs who cuddle up to me during house calls. Border collies are always my favorite (sorry Miles). Dogs with names like Miles, which apparently is from the Germanic "Milo", meaning gracious. There is a local kid named Milo who is an amazing dancer, by the way. It could also be from the Latin "miles" for soldier. Or the Greek Miles for "destroyer". Or Irish meaning servant or Hebrew meaning gift from God. All of this is from the internet, so I don't believe a word of it. Tonight, running at dusk in the woods, he acted the soldier-destroyer once when a fellow (who seemed perfectly nice, btw) surprised us on the trail. Miles does not mess around. Phyllis is a good dog name too. Apparently derived from foliage (Greek), and might be linked to a woman who killed herself out of love for some guy named Demophon and then turned into an almond tree. The Phyllis I know takes no shit from boy dogs, so I am suspecting she is safe from becoming almond milk at Trader Joe's some day.

Miles and Phyllis, October 2015

2) Husbands. Specifically mine. I do not know how your's behaved today or on average in recent days, months and years. Mine is a saint. There is no internet derivation of his name, which is unusual and often misspelled. 

3) Friends. They are the people who show up every day, any hour of the day, without whining or complaint. They say funny things. They often are a lot wiser than I am, and they do not mind when my hair falls out, including half the hair of one eyebrow. Friends like their half bald, half-eyebrowed companions. You know who you are. 

Any bets on how bald I will be tomorrow?

4) Running. OK, I have not been talking enough about running on this blog purportedly about running! I am not as fast as I used to be, and in this town I was never that fast to begin with compared to the elites who seem to breath speed through redwood mist or something. But, I can run. I mean literally, I can put on shoes, go outside and run. There are many people that cannot do this physically. Or are so busy trying to just survive that the idea of spending time running in the woods is ridiculous. Tonight's run, in the woods at dusk, was nice. And every time I run somewhere beautiful, I feel better. Every single time. 

This is my back yard. Yes, I am boasting. 

5) Patients. Erma Bombeck once said "Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died". Which is why I never keep plants in my office. Seriously though, if your doctor has the time to tend their plants, they are not working hard enough! Your doctor should be oliguric, and preferably divorced because they have spent so much time with you that their spouse left 16 years ago and your doctor hasn't even noticed yet. Their children are all nuclear physicists and your doctor's last day off was at age 10 when they skipped piano lessons to ride their bike to Kwik trip to get an orange push-up. Seriously though, my patients are why I do medicine. And when I am with them, time melts away. Like an orange push-up on a summer day.

6) Children. Full disclosure here: parenting is harder than anything I have ever done in my entire life. This includes: 
a) childbirth, which is hard but temporary
b) standardized tests
c) learning Ravel Jeux d'eau
e) all of the marathons I have run, including the one NYC marathon where I cried all the way through Central Park

Children, whom I would lay my very life down for in an instant. They make me soar, they stomp on my heart, they can destroy me in an instant. Love them. 

7) Music. I am currently rereading, for about the 18th time, Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. It captures something about music and musicians in a very organic way. And I do not mean organic like Whole Foods, California, healthy, snobby, righteous organic. (I only buy organic). I mean salt of the earth organic. Music is at the very core of who I am. For some reason I shied away from it and decided to be a doctor. This could be why I get so sad sometimes. KIDS IF YOU ARE READING THIS: FOLLOW YOUR TALENTS AND PASSIONS. Unless they are illegal, in which case I suggest you get your shit together immediately. 

8) Books. I am surrounded by writers. My husband, my eldest child. Sometimes I think my poodle is writing a book in his head because, just like my husband, he will suddenly sit down and stare into space intently like there is something there he is trying to figure out. I can converse with husband or dog at these times, until I finally realize I am essentially talking to myself. Writers live on some different plane of existence. I am grateful for them because when I read, I too get to escape to a different plane of existence. As long as it is not a real plane, because I dislike those intensely.

9) Rocks. Literal and figurative. I can spend hours collecting rocks. I can also appreciate the solidity of them. Today I bought a couch for my office. It represented to me the solidity of the decision I have made around work. A couch is kind of a sign of commitment. Nothing is really set in stone, and stones actually change with weather and water and time. But they are so nice to hold in ones hand. And a good, solid couch? Let me explain, my couch is not made of stone. It is actually comfortable and soft. I just think couches represent solidity. 

Stones. October. Woods at Dusk.

10) Hats and the people who make them. 

Do you like my hat?

11) The Woods at Dusk. This is when the mountain lions are said to prefer eating people. I never worry though, as I have lightning speed and a fierce poodle and West Highland Terrier to protect me. The woods are good anytime, but early mornings and late evenings are the best. The light is ever changing. The redwoods split the light, which is one of their superpowers. It is quiet and usually few others are around. It is like a cathedral, but with big hills which suck the living air out of your lungs and make your heart almost explode. It is a labyrinth with cut backs and fern canyons and redwood droppings as soft as pillows underfoot. It is not for the meek of spirit. It renews your soul and kicks your ass all at the same time. It can save lives.

I have a cathedral in my back yard. Nyah, nyah.


  1. Awesome List. I've been "away" from your blog for months, as I do a Life-180, but good luck with whatever is going on with your hair loss and stay close to that "cathedral" where all will always be well.

  2. You not only are surrounded by writers, you are one. You thrill me with each post and I realize how much if missed not knowing you as we grew up. Hope some day (soon?) to reconnect.