A New Beginning

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

The time of personal transition has finally come. I have given my notice, and sometime before the end of this year, 2021, I will walk away from my job as a physician in the emergency department where I have labored for over forty-three years. I made this decision with intense ambivalence, as overall I have received a tremendous amount of satisfaction from my occupation. I have worked alongside capable, compassionate, healthcare providers, who are as much friends as coworkers, and together we have cared for an enormous number of patients over the years. As a unit, we have helped many people, and on occasion, we have snatched some from the jaws of death.

Emergency medicine has inexorably pressed me on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels, reminding me of the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, “What does not kill me makes me stronger.” Because of this trial by fire, I’m a much better physician and person than I was all those years ago when I first started my career. Emergency medicine has taken a great deal from me, no doubt, but it has given back so much more, and for that, I am most grateful. But the end of my occupation approaches soon, and I find myself wanting to focus not on what I’m leaving behind, but rather, on the positives of my upcoming existence. I have so much to anticipate.

First of all, I’m looking ahead to a more relaxed life. No more “sphincter moments,” when the actions I take in a few critical seconds make a difference whether a patient lives or dies. While I’ve taken great pride in my ability to act quickly and appropriately in times of crisis, enough is enough. It’s time to sleep in every now and then, spend more precious time with my wife, Sheridan, and when the coronavirus eventually wanes, enjoy longed-for moments with my father, children, step-children, grandchildren and dear friends.  

I’ll also cherish deepening my meditation practice, and I can think of no endeavor more worthy than becoming more intimately aware of the God within and without. Music opens my heart, and I greatly anticipate singing inspired compositions with my circle of friends in the Edmond Community Chorale.

I look forward to future travels. Sheridan has convinced me that I would love visiting Italy, with all its varied culinary, historical and artistic opportunities. I’d jump for joy to go to Paris again, one of the most memorable places I’ve ever been, with a culture and ambiance that nourishes my soul. Most of you are aware of my fascination with glow worms, and the ultimate experience to satisfy this passion would be to visit the famed Waitomo Glowworm Caves in New Zealand. Domestically, I’d love to visit San Francisco, along with nearby Napa Valley, Seattle, and New York City. Can we eventually go to all of these places, and perhaps more? I’d surely like to give it a try.

Also, I want to go on many more challenging hikes, as nowhere do I feel the presence of God more than when I’m in the wilderness. Where? I’ve often asked myself. Of course, one of the best places in the world for trekking is Big Bend National Park in southern Texas, and I’d like to introduce Sheridan to its mystery and majesty. Also, Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, NM, has been calling my name. While I’m still physically able, I’d like to go with Sheridan to Sri Lanka and experience the vigorous hike to the top of Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka’s most sacred mountain. Of course, how could I ever go wrong by taking day hikes at the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, the Oklahoma analogue of Adam’s Peak?

Of course, I’d like to pen more books. In the midst of a busy emergency practice, it’s hard to find time to sit and quietly be creative. No longer will that be an issue. After putting together five books, with one more coming out soon, I believe my writing skills are as good as they’ve ever been. I look forward to sharing my future inspirations with you.

The list could go on and on, yet I also want to be open to other unexpected happenings that God decides to bless me with. I wonder: What does She have in store for me? I smile as I think about it.

In my book, Oklahoma Is Where I Live, family practitioner Doctor Sather said in a lecture to a group of medical students, “As an individual, you are much more than a doctor.” After forty-three years of primarily functioning as a physician, I believe it’s time to explore fully the other aspects of my being before I cross the glowing, inviting entry to The Great Beyond. Besides that, this is the perfect stage of my life to just have fun and connect on a deeper level with those I love. At sixty-eight years of age, I can wait no longer. The time is now.

I can’t tell you how excited I am.

4 comments to A New Beginning

  • Mike Goodspeed

    Your new journey for you both will be a powerful one as each day a brighter light will shine. You have given so much to so many day after day. With help from above you have given life and good health to countless people. As you seek new travels that I feel will give you the peace and well being that you so deserve. I am but one of many that you have given a better life that I can share with many. Doc take care and I hope that our paths will meet again.

    Not too good of a word person. I know this great man from Oklahoma who’s books make me feel better about that I know him.

    • Hey Life Friend (Mike),
      The first time I met you on that television show we worked on together, I knew we could be friends, and sure enough, when our lives crossed again, we were not only friends, but life friends. Mike, I so appreciate your kind words, but after what you did at the Murrah Building bombing, I consider you to be the true hero. Our paths will definitely cross again. Much love, Gary

  • Jay Gamble

    Ive known about you Doctor Conrad since I was a youth in Midwest City. You treated a football injury I sustained then later became a working mentor. I first met you professionally in 1987 as an xray technologist, CAT scan tech and later an RN. You always saw the good in each of us. Especially in those more than difficult times. It resembles Christ and Krishna. Thats the beauty of it. To see the beauty in others reflects from your heart. You arrived and are enlightened. God be with you.

    • Hi Jay,
      I feel humbled by your kind words. I had no idea what a long connection we have shared, and thanks ever so much for reminding me. While I am honored by your comments about being enlightened, I am quite certain that I have a long way to go before I reach that exalted state. Like many of us, I strive as hard as I can to get it right, and oftentimes I fall miserably short. But God is an understanding God, and I believe that He accepts me in my imperfection, as he does all of us. I feel blessed to have known you, my friend. Warm regards, Gary

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