Those of you who know me–and in about five words, the rest of you–know that I have a slight obsession with the comic Calvin and Hobbes. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been reading the strip religiously. If I could make a personalized version of those “Everything I Needed to Know in Life I Learned From…” posters, it would end with–you guessed it–Calvin and Hobbes.
For the purposes of this column (and your sanity), I won’t get into the many lessons I’ve learned from my beloved comic. Instead, I’ll focus on the final lesson, from the final strip, published 17 years ago on December 31, 1995 when I was a wee 6-year-old. For 10 years, Bill Watterson had brought joy and laughter into millions of homes through 2,500 separate newspapers that printed the adventures of Calvin and his Tiger friend each day; and when he chose to sign off, he left us with this comic strip.
For those of us who loved Calvin and Hobbes, reading that last strip can still bring tears to our eyes. It signifies hope, it signifies change, and it signifies a new beginning (I’m starting to think President Obama stole a page out of Watterson’s playbook)–all of those wonderful things that come with each passing year on January 1. It’s a time when we get to leave the past year–often full of troubles, failures and doubts–behind, and move as optimistically as we can manage into the next twelve months of our lives.
For some of you, this will be your final semester before receiving your MD; for others it will mean new rotations; and for my classmates of the UASOM Class of 2016, it will mean the beginning of our organ modules.
For me, however, it will mean none of the above. Tacky (although hopefully not unprofessional) as this may someday seem, I have chosen this forum to announce that I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from medical school in pursuit of dreams I set aside in order to get here in the first place.
Although grades have been good and friendships great, something in myself yearns for a different path. And so, in addition to wishing you all a prosperous year and pointing out that it really is a magical world as my friend Calvin mentioned above, I am bidding a tearful farewell to a half-dream that has been holding on to me for as long as I can remember.
I’ll end by saying that I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you whose true passion and skill lies in medicine. Facing an uncertain future, we need you more than ever; and someday I hope to be able to bring my kids in to see some of my old friends when they get the sniffles or break a leg spelunking (I have a feeling my kids will be the spelunking type). So from me, Mr. Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes, I bid you farewell, and wish you “a fresh clean start … full of possibilities.” Now go exploring!