Saturday, September 12, 2015


It is 5 minutes until 7 on a Saturday morning.  I have already run 6.5 miles with a friend, walked my dog, and stopped to say the Serenity Prayer with Baltimore Back on My Feet after finishing my run and before coming home.  What a great way to start a busy day.

Yesterday was September 11.  Many friends took time to reflect on where they were when the planes hit the twin towers.  Or posted about always remembering.  Or posted about never forgetting.

Yesterday, I didn't do any of those.

But I did think about where I was.  (I had dropped my oldest off at school and the first plane struck while I was driving to work.  I arrived at the office of an anesthesiologist with whom I was to discuss collaboration and saw the second hit on a TV in his office.  I tried to work most of the rest of the day.  The sense of uncertainty and helplessness was profound.)  

I heard a story about kids who are now teens teaching even younger kids about 9/11.  I watched part of a documentary made a couple years ago about the children of 9/11.  

And I thought about my freedom.  I also thought about that in the context of another event for me yesterday.  It was not earth shattering.  It was just that the last PhD or DrPH student whom I am formally advising finished the final steps of getting her dissertation submitted yesterday.  She'd had her final defense.  Yesterday was the end of the administrative work.  And my submission of a letter saying she is done.

In the 19 years and three months that I have been at Johns Hopkins on the faculty, I oversaw 21 students completing their dissertations as their dissertation adviser.  (One was a co-advisor role.)  And there were another 5 for whom I was the adviser at some point but who finished (or are finishing with someone else).  And I have sat on many other committees for students.

But with my change in job from the School of Public Health to the Business School two and one-half years ago, I have not started advising any more students.  So, this is the end of this section of my career.  That is a choice.

Of course, a current student whom I have know for 3-4 years now and who has completed two years of medical school also visited me yesterday.  And when she told me that she had completed an ophthalmology rotation and decided that she wanted to do health services research and health economics as related to eye care--I almost cried.  Someone to carry on what I had begun.  That is incredible.  And she would do it as an MD/PhD.  That is her choice.  But the fact that it can fulfill a vision I had it what makes it so relevant to choices I had made.

Choices are great.  The freedom to make them--I cannot place a value on. 

Like the choice to run this morning starting at 5 o'clock.  I can run wherever I want and whenever I want.

Just like the choice of what religion to follow and how to follow it.

Just like the choice of where to live.  Where to send my kids to school What activities to sign them up for.

And I make a choice to carry on.  I make a choice to just keep on doing.  Or sometimes I make a choice to change.

The freedom to make the choices is what makes America a great place.  

That freedom is something I cherish.

That freedom is something I would never want to give up.

The freedom to write my story.  The freedom to rewrite my story.  The freedom to change the story when I want to.

It is all great.

And I will continue to enjoy that freedom.

That is why I note September 11. It was a day on which we were not sure how our freedoms and choices would change.  Some have been changed forever (like how we proceed through airports.)  But some are still very alive and cherished.  And will be celebrated always. 

So I end noting that four weeks from today I will run marathon number 7.  And it is called "Freedoms Run."  

No comments:

Post a Comment