Days off. In the life of a medical resident, these are elusive and feel almost foreign when they arrive, bringing a jarring quiet that is in stark contrast to the constant onslaught of difficult yet extremely rewarding work that we do the other days of the week. For me, however, this sense of quiet -- typically minimally disturbed by such banal activities as grocery shopping, laundry, and other day-to-day comings and goings -- is quickly filled with music. And lots of it. I don't do well with inertia. I'm a musician and feel compelled to create; I grow restless when I cannot. To me, this is a way of life and I just refuse to live it any other way. Likewise, every day, I'm impressed with people's capacities to juggle multiple loves, multiple passions, and do them well. I meet such people in both the medical and musical spheres of my life and consequently feel a commonality of spirit right away -- I'm not alone! Yet, inevitably, I also run into those who not only promote a sense of conflict between what I do, but somehow remain incredulous when I insist that neither music nor medicine is a hobby for me. Though I rarely sense any maliciousness or ill intent from those who ask me such questions, it never fails to stick with me. Why have I had to defend my passions (plural!) to so many people over the years? Sometimes, the questioning is quite obviously meant to hurt -- I once had a musician tell me "I hope medical school starts for you sooner rather than later" so that I would no longer be an active part of the local music community. Another out-of-state musician told me to quit the guitar if I ever wanted to pursue medicine because I'll never be able to do both at a high level. These were things said to an impressionable and frankly easily-hurt teenager who simply fostered a deep passion for two seemingly diametrically opposed fields (they are not, but that's a topic for a different day).
My days off from medical work are filled with the same activities as every other resident's, by which point I realize that most of the day has gone by in a flurry of inconsequential errands. But the difference lies in those extra few hours afterward, often late at night, where I remember my commitment to music. It can be anything from the beginning of an arrangement to a sketch for a new album to writing out a piece for one of my students, and everything in between. This does not conflict with my medical studies or career. Some might argue that I'm not "all in" with either field and therefore am destined to never reach particular heights in one or the other. I've had this said to me point blank before, with the accusation being that I'm not "committed." These comments do not bother me anymore. They simply motivate me to continue along the path I've carved out for myself -- a medical residency in the field of psychiatry, which I am incredibly passionate about, alongside an active career of a concertizing performer and teacher in which I constantly continue to hold myself to yet higher standards. I'm immensely proud of my latest album, "Masquerade," and find myself realizing that those extra hours during days off are more and more veering toward thoughts of new projects. The problem is knowing where to start... To those who have always supported me, my sincerest thanks. To everyone else, I hope someday your passions become so innumerable that you simply can't live your life without enjoying them all.