For this physician, financial independence is bittersweet

I say that financial independence is bittersweet and you look at me with your jaw slack, your eyes questioning.  You scan to the top of my blog, and you see the words “personal finance,” and you’re wondering if I’ve gone slightly daffy.

But then I point to my byline, personal finance with a twist, and continue on my belligerent rant.  I have said before that money is a foil.  A false mirage.  A tangible object on which we pin our hopes and dreams.  No one ever lived for money, or even died for it.  We live for principles, ideals, people, objects, the unobtainable stuff that money is the first and most minor of many hinderances.

Our goal is not a goal, but a means to something deeper and much more meaningful.

I have always wanted to be a doctor

From the earliest, sweetest vaults of a young child’s memory.  I wanted to be just like my dad.  A hero of heroes in an eight-year old’s mind.  My only dream was to get to my tenth birthday so I could go with him to the office and see patients, like my two brothers, had done when they reached the decade milestone.

Then he collapsed.

His sudden death while rounding in the hospital did more to catapult an eight-year old’s voyage than could the mighty arms of Atlas.

Bittersweet.

His passing made concrete in me this idea of following in his footsteps.   And following, I did.  I sprinted through college and medical school.  My surety in my chosen profession never questioned.  My confidence brimming in even the most harrowing of new doctor scenarios.

I entered my first practice as an attending physician with a pure heart, a clear mind, and the overwhelming need to carry on my father’s legacy.

My father’s son

I am my father’s son.   But I may not have inherited his exuberance for medicine.  Medicine in its purest form is lovely.  The practice of this ancient art today, however, has been bastardized.  The deluge of compliance and paperwork has turned this magnificent profession into the fodder of  a secretarial staff pool.

This is not my father’s medicine.

And in some ways, I am not my father’s son.  Through entrepreneurship and careful planning, I have reached financial independence in my early forties.  I am free!  Free!

I want to yell it from the mountaintops and sing it in the valley. Thump into a pile of faxes and strew them on the ground, and then run over them with my EKG machine.

I want to let go of this profession that has broken me physically, emotionally, and intellectually into a million disjointed pieces, and then laugh.

I am free!

But then morosely I pick the papers back up and start to collate.  Mr. Smith needs his verapamil filled.  Mrs. Jones needs her handicap placard.

I have all the money in the world, but the image of my father’s face has faded into incomprehensibility.

Medicine gives me the one thing that financial independence will never be able to buy.

A chance to feel close to my father.

Bittersweet.

“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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