Whenever Paths Have Crossed, Thank You

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“Truth be told, I’m unlikely to hold you down, cause my soul is a crowded subway train and people keep deciding to get on the next one that runs through town”

-Watsky, “Tiny Glowing Screens Part 2”

Happy Brandon New Year!

I feel like everyone’s birthday is their own personal new year. That’s another one of the many extraneous thoughts I had today when I should have been concentrating on something. Today was my birthday. I turned 24. That is a kind of scary thought.

I’m sitting here, sipping whiskey, feeling old and distinguished. And by that, I mean I’m sitting here sweating from the heat, sneezing because evidently every bit of pollen in Indiana got spread into the air today, half-staring at the Netflix main menu, and still puckering up my face when the whiskey hits my throat, almost coughing from the burn. I guess I’m not that cool. Sidenote: whiskey stones are only good for keeping drinks cold, not getting them cold in the first place. I’m going back to whiskey on ice for when I want to feel “manly man man” about things. And even then, I think nothing short of swallowing a bit of bleach to deaden my throat (medical term of the day for that is “pharynx”) nerves will make me sip whiskey all-cool-James-Bond-like. How do people do this? I guess the key to looking cool is to just not show your discomfort. I’m fully convinced that nobody in their right mind drinks straight alcohol without any kind of discomfort. I also know I’m not going to be able to sleep, considering I napped for somewhere near 2 hours today. Having to avoid sitting has led to a lot of laying around, which has led to a lot of unintentional napping. No amount of studying about drugs can be interesting enough to keep me awake. No way, Jose. So I’m writing.

Back in middle school, 20 year old people were crazy old. I remember seeing an old student of one of my teachers come in to our classroom one day, and they were college and somewhere around 20. That seemed so old. Jeez, time flies. I’m 3 birthdays deep into the, “Yay, your birthdays have no societal significance anymore!” category. We should come up with some sort of arbitrary new thing you can do at each year of age, just to jazz things up. I’ll mentally file that under “million dollar ideas”.

I’d like to thank all of you for the well-wishes and kind words on my birthday. It’s the one day a year where we get a bazillion Facebook notifications, and we’re happy about each and every one. Some of you who wished me a happy birthday I haven’t talked to in days, weeks, months, or even years. I guess that’s how time just keeps slipping when you have your head down in the grind. That was dope. Others of you texted me, and we at least had a short conversation. That was dope+1. It’s crazy to think my days at Forest as a resident assistant are fast approaching 3 years ago. That’s nuts. I miss that group of people who made my life so special at the time, a group of people that I saw each and every day for almost three quarters of a year. That got me to thinking. Thinking a lot.

I’m at the age where a lot of people have come in and out of my life. That quote from George Watsky (an awesome rapper/poet, you should check him out, his stage name is “Watsky”) up at the top of this page kind of summarizes how I feel, to some extent. That’s not to say that’s a bad feeling though, or a malicious one, or an abnormal one at that. Some people have blinked out of my life as fast as they blinked in, and some faded in as slowly as they eventually faded out. That’s a normal part of aging and geographic distribution of people that happens as you get older. It’s kind of sad. Those people who I’d spend 72 hours with on a church retreat, who I’d grown so close to in that time, poof out as soon as the weekend ended. A few of them have stuck moreso than others. Thing is, I wouldn’t trade those type of connections for anything. In those moments, that was all that mattered.

Graduating from undergrad, that was just….sad. There’s no other way to put it. People who I’d been so close to for a year, two, maybe more, dispersed and shipped all across the state and country. Some of them I might never, ever see again. We’ll all meet new people, get new friends, hold on to some, and let some kind of go. These are the people who fade more slowly than the intense bonds I mentioned above. And again, that makes me a bit sad. I’ve always heard your social circle keeps shrinking as you get older, at least in some ways. I’m going to meet hundreds upon thousands of patients as a physician, and even more friends, family members, and beyond. That’s pretty exciting. I’ll lose contact with more and more of my close childhood or college friends as I get older. That’s not so exciting.

I’m not sure why I’m in such a sentimental mood, maybe it’s because I got to talk, at least ever-briefly, to some people today that I hadn’t heard from in awhile. Honestly, you all made my day today. So did the people who I talk to more frequently, who I also talked to today. It made me grateful for the advent of things like Facebook and texting – nobody is ever as far as they used to be 10, 20, or 30 years ago. I can instantly connect with anyone from any point in my life, and that’s cool as a bear sitting in a chair.  I’m glad that we have that capability nowadays. If you think about it, Facebook will hold snapshots of our life at any given time, showing who was important 5 months or 5 years ago, and giving us a pretty decent way to reminisce, and an even more decent way for corporations to know every aspect of our lives. Meh, good with the bad I guess.

I’m a bit of what I’d call an extroverted introvert – I love being alone, but I need contact with people to survive. I thrive off of that. You all have crossed paths with me at some point, and I’d like to say I’m incredibly thankful for that. No matter how small of an impact, there was something (or still is something) between us. It might not be there anymore, but the connection isn’t ever too far away. I’d like to hope that no matter where you are, or wherever I am, that if our paths cross again in the future, we can catch up for even that split second. I hope none of you will ever be afraid to approach or come to me in the future, whether that’s for medical treatment or anything else. I was in the hospital with one of my physician preceptors, when he saw a patient there who was an old friend, a friend he hasn’t seen in 30+ years. They shared a moment there, even though it was brief, that just kind of brightened my day. Even after that many years, they talked like a beat hadn’t been missed. It made me smile.

Thanks for the birthday wishes, thanks for the company, and thanks for making this freshly-minted 24 year old smile. You all are wonderful. Now, I’m off to probably stare at my ceiling for an hour trying to fall asleep, maybe reflecting on the new ventures and journeys I’m going to undertake in the next year. Judo or Jiu-Jitsu are high on that list. That and be glad I can still eat a whole container of mini-Oreos like a champ. Gotta get at least a little wild on my birthday, after all.


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