Music, Movies, Reading, & Cooking

I have always enjoyed music, movies, reading, and cooking, even before the surgery. Afterwards, I have begun to appreciate and love these activities even more. Before, medical school, residency, marriage, and parenthood occupied my time; I could not spend as much time with my hobbies as I had wished. Just as this tumor has allowed me to spend more time with my children it has also given me more time to enjoy these activities.

—– Music ——-

I have always loved music. As a teenager, I loved hip-hop. I have memories of listening to The Wu-Tang Clan and DMX before big tennis matches to get me fired up. While I still enjoy hip-hop[1], my taste in music has diversified; I also like musicians such as The Killers, James Brown, and Leon Russell. The only genre of music that I do not listen to happens to be the most popular type of music in the USA: country music.

Now I constantly listen to music whenever I can—while working out in the gym, cooking, and writing. Each time I listen to music it serves a purpose—while in the gym I use music to motivate me to work harder and push myself.[2] While cooking, music inspires me to be more creative in the dishes I make. With writing, music puts me in the right frame of mind to write about my experience with this tumor.

The Wu-Tang Clan in their 'tough' pose.
The Wu-Tang Clan in their ‘tough’ pose.

As with movies, music is a form of art that has the ability to move our souls, and transport us to different places. I cannot imagine a life without music and know that my recovery would be seriously hindered without the aid of music.

—– Movies —–

Movies provide me with an escape from reality. In movies, feats that aren’t possible in real life become commonplace on film. Conversely movies can be biographical in nature, and can detail the life or events surrounding a person’s life.

I enjoy movies that can bring me to another place and enlighten me. This includes big budget action films, comedies, and ‘biopics’. I absolutely refuse to see any movies that are ‘emotionally draining’; these are movies where you leave the theater more emotionally spent than when you entered: films like Hotel Rwanda and The Hours come to mind.

In relation to my recovery I especially enjoy ‘comeback’ movies. These are movies where the protagonist, typically a sports figure, suffers a major setback in the beginning of the film and spends the rest of the time building him or herself up to become stronger. Movies like Rocky or The Dark Knight Rises are like this. One common theme that runs through all these movies is that at the end of the movie, the hero’s life is changed and somehow through all their tribulations they become stronger. I hope that like Rocky or Batman that I will emerge from this ordeal both more evolved and stronger.

The 'comeback' movies of all comeback movies.
The ‘comeback’ movies of all comeback movies.

In terms of my recovery, going to movies provides me an opportunity to see friends and socialize. My friends often go out of their way to offer to take me to a movie. With two young children at home, it is nearly impossible for my wife and I to go the movies together.[4] However, when I go with friends it provides us an opportunity to catch up.

—– Reading ——–

Since leaving Sparrow Hospital I have taken up reading and have read about 30 books.[5] I prefer nonfiction ranging from books about Einstein to memoirs about famous leaders. Like with movies, a good book has the ability to take the reader to a faraway place. I don’t have favorite authors, but only have one prerequisite: it is important that I learn something from the book, and not just be entertained.

I often get asked, “What have you learned from your reading?” There isn’t one underlying lesson that ties all of these books together—each book teaches me something different: one book may encourage me to think ‘outside of the box’, while another book might present certain views of happiness.[6]

The latest book I have been reading by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler.
The latest book I have been reading by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler.

Besides helping to improve my writing skills, reading also gives me a part of the day devoted to me. I typically set aside some time every day and put on some soft music to read. There are some days that are too busy which I don’t read, but I try to read at least a little every day.

—- Cooking ——

When I was interviewing for residencies I received advice from many people. One piece of advice was to be truthful on all of your application. The example this physician used was that someone put ‘cooking’ down as an interest. Unfortunately for this applicant, the interviewer was an avid cook, and was offended that the applicant would include ‘cooking’ as an interest while not knowing the intricacies of it (i.e.: what could you use to balance out the acidity of oysters?)[7] I think if I were to fill out a resume now I would include ‘cooking’ as an interest. I by no means am a master chef[8], but I thoroughly enjoy it.

In terms of my recovery, I enjoy the control cooking gives me. One aspect of my life that this tumor has stripped from me is control. Literal physical control over my own body (i.e.: titubation and ataxia), and control over returning to residency, and over my schedule. Any aspect of my life that I have control over I have clung to.[9] Also, as an added bonus, at the end, if you have done it right, you are left with an enjoyable dish.

My latest cooking obsession- homemade hummus.
My latest cooking obsession- homemade hummus.

——- Activities ——–

Like with all the books that I’ve read there is not one underlying theme to all these different aspects to my life. They all in their own way have helped me to recover: Music helps to motivate and center me. Movies provide me with a temporary escape and also serves as a medium with which I can see friends. Books also give me an escape but also serve to enlighten me. Cooking provides me with at least a semblance of control. While all of these are separate without each and every one in my life my recovery wouldn’t be where it is today.

[1] As far as I know DMX is no longer releasing albums, and The Wu-Tang Clan are set to release their first album after a many year hiatus.

[2] My wife, a psychology major in college, completed a study that showed that subjects exercising to certain types of music worked out harder when compared to no music.

[3] I have a ritual of playing The Lumineers station on Pandora when I sit down to write.

[4] Going to a movie with my wife entails us getting babysitters, finding a movie that we can both enjoy at a time we can both make.

[5] The book industry is estimated to be a $132 billion dollar industry.

[6] There is a fantastic book I read titled, Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. Besides being incredibly written, it is also very informative; telling of the benefits of memorization.

Great book about the power of our memories.
Great book about the power of our memories.

[7] Residency interviews are notorious for strange questions—someone was once asked “why are manholes round?” The interviewer is not looking for a correct answer but wants a peek into the thought process of the applicant. Manholes are round to prevent the cover from falling in by the way.

[8] For example, I had no idea that oysters are acidic.

[9] This includes cooking, diet, and exercise.

[AA1]Can you explain about the frame of mind? Not sure what you mean by this

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