I recall during high school when I was applying to colleges. Firmly affixed in the neurons of my automatic brain was Groucho Marx’s famous line: “I sent the club a wire stating, PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER.” So it would follow that any college that accepted me could not be so great.
When I did not get into my first choice schools, I cried. My high school advisor suggested that if I really did not want to go to those colleges that accepted me, I should attend the local community college for a semester or two and reapply to my top choices. I did not follow that advice, a decision I will explain later.
Fast-forward four years, to my application to medical school. Unfortunately, Groucho’s words still lived strongly within me. After being wait-listed at my top picks and not getting into other top schools, I again settled for my “safety” school. My medical school advisor, given my excellent record in college, was very surprised; nevertheless, he encouraged me to accept the school I got into and not to postpone my admission by getting an advanced degree first and then reapplying (an option taken by many).
Fast-forward a few more years, when it was time to choose a residency and therefore a career. I knew I could get into an internal-medicine program, but the words of Groucho Marx crept into my automatic brain. I began to follow its direction and decided that I would try to get into orthopedic surgery–at the time a very competitive field because many med students saw it as extremely lucrative. For me, the camaraderie of residents and the jock-like fraternity atmosphere when on-call appealed to this 24-year-old frustrated athlete.
But I did not get into an orthopedic residency, and the director of my med school’s program suggested I do research for a couple of years and then reapply. I decided to do a one-year surgical internship, and I began to see that even some “clubs” that did not want me were ones I didn’t want to be a part of either. I transferred to an internal-medicine residency.
At that time, few people were going into general internal medicine; most were choosing a sub-specialty, a decision no doubt influenced by their enormous medical school debt (I still carry debt from medical school!). So I pursued a pulmonary fellowship. A few months shy of completion of my residency and start of the fellowship, I learned that the internal-medicine credits I had received during my surgical internship could not be applied toward my residency and I could not sit for the boards until this was worked out.
Around that time, our chief resident recommended I moonlight with my former partner, who was soliciting help. Since I could not do the fellowship and had to wait another year to sit for my boards, I was available for hire. My partner was happy with my performance during my moonlighting stint, so he hired me. And that’s how I came to Rockland County, New York.
As I look back at my experience, nothing seemed right at first, but in fact everything was precisely right. It could not have been more right for me. The key ingredient, even though Groucho Marx weighed on my brain, was that I did not fully believe, trust, or take direction from this brain (even before I understood its dynamic).
You see, if I had followed my brain, I would not have accepted what came to me; that is, the schools I got into or the positions that came to me. I would either have done what some of the advisors suggested–research or more schooling–or would not have made the best of my experience in the “club” that accepted me as a member, holding a chip on my shoulder, simply going through the motions, constantly wishing the other “club” had accepted me. I could have spent my time visualizing myself in those other “clubs.”
In life (and in death; see below), what is right for us will come to us when we unleash the power of our mind by not believing, trusting, and taking direction from our automatic brain (AB), all of which causes what I call brain drain. Indulging brain drain means struggling against the current of what is delivered to you. It means believing that you are not worthy of things or people who accept you. When you go with the current, the natural flow of life’s journey, you understand what is right. There is no unnecessary drama.
What is right for us is always abundance: abundance of the spiritual, emotional, and material. Of course, abundance for one person is vastly different from abundance for the next. In financial terms, abundance may be a million dollars for one person, ten million for another, or a hundred thousand for someone else. Abundance for one person may be having no children, or it may be having four children. Acceptance of that which comes to us and the clubs that accept us is crucial for recognizing what is right for us. What eventually winds up in our lap will be precisely that which is right for us, and need not be prejudged or have conditions. It is always enough.
Not doing so great on my SATs, not getting into the most prestigious schools, not getting into a prestigious residency, not being able to start my pulmonary fellowship–and, much later, having a top agent pick up my book project just to drop it months later–all of these things seemed bad for me. Early on, I admit, I did not fully understand how the AB works, but I still went with the flow. And what was right for me came and seems to keep coming: meeting my wife, having a beautiful family, building a successful practice, gaining the ability to attain a higher spirituality, writing and producing my own book, and so much more.
This is my story. Everyone’s story is different. One thing that is very hard to accept is that as the right things come to us when we believe in the power of our mind–the portal to our personal spirituality and abundance–so too does the right time for death come to us. For when we die, it is precisely the right time for us to die. It is not too soon or too late; it is our time. On the other hand, our death does not come at the right time for those who live on, at least to their automatic brain.
How often are the words uttered, “He died before his time.” No, he died precisely at his time. He died before our time. Letting go of death is an essential ingredient in freeing up the power of our mind.
It is important to embrace life and all that it brings, regardless of whether it seems good or bad. Believing that what is right for us will always come to us that’s not blind faith or a call to live passively. On the contrary, it is a call to live life with passion, belief, and possibility and always knowing, in the words of Bob Marley, that “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”Tags: grief, hope