It all started with the tip of my tongue. Really. I was chewing on dark chocolate chips with a vigor that was maybe a touch inappropriate for such a snack. I bit down firmly and felt immediate pain sear through my mouth where the tooth overzealously punctured the soft tissue.
I bit my tongue.
Which wouldn’t have seemed so calamitous if it had not been one of many bodily malfunctions that had recently befallen me. A growth the size of a marble called a chalazion has grown under my eye lid. My hairline continues to recede. All of the sudden, out of nowhere, I have acne far surpassing that which befuddled me as a teenager.
My joints hurt every time I exercise. My ankle now makes a clicking noise while jogging. The connective tissue holding my abdomen in place has started to falter.
Time is passing. I am getting older. Yet my mind has thankfully lagged behind my body. I wake up each morning feeling like a much younger man. There are a thousand tasks to be performed, a thousand opportunities, and I chase after each one of them. Enthralled by the possibilities, I rarely stop running until the day is over, and I collapse into bed. Six hours later the alarm sounds, and it starts again.
This makes me happy.
For the most part. The problem that comes with an awareness of the possibilities is the realization that time is finite. There are projects that I will never finish. Relationships that will never be rekindled. The past is gone, and the future diminishes even as these precious moments pass.
And just when I seem to have gotten myself into lather, I feel a soft tugging on my shirt sleeve. I peer down into my daughter’s soulful brown eyes.
Dad, dad, you’re spacing out again.
My son is dancing a silent jig on the other side of me, listening to music that only he can hear.
They both need me so much right now.
Maybe it’s time to give up on all this thinking.
And just be.
Jordan Grumet is an internal medicine physician who blogs at In My Humble Opinion. Watch his talk at dotMED 2013, Caring 2.0: Social Media and the Rise Of The Empathic Physician. He is the author of I Am Your Doctor: and This Is My Humble Opinion.