The stuff in between

“Goals give us a direction. Memories form an emotional context for our lives. But, life exists in neither. Life exists in the gaps. Life exists in the details.”
— Zach Davis, aka The Good Badger

I stumbled upon this the other day and not only does it ring true but it also fits my blog topic. So, also useful.

In the final days of my “sabbatical,” I’m reading “The Last Physician: Walker Percy and the Life of Medicine.” Edited by Carl Elliott and John Lantos, it’s a collection of essays–mostly by those in fields of healthcare and philosophy that take on some of the meaning behind medical science.

Walker Percy knew something about gaps. Trained as a physician at Columbia University, Percy developed TB during his internship as a pathologist. He spent three years recovering, mostly in sanatoriums.

He didn’t practice his art, medicine, for long but instead turned to writing as a way to connect to humanity. Tragically, several in his family died by suicide; and not only does this come out in his work but some essays in “The Last Physician” explore this theme, as well.

As for Percy’s professional gap, imagine putting yourself through all that training only to come out at the end with a dreadful disease that requires several years’ attention. Is it wasted time? On the surface, we’d typically think so. “Let me get all healed up so I can get back to this doctor thing,” you might say.

But as the blogger Zach Davis has discovered, it’s the stuff in between where life is. It’s true, you know. You have all these plans, say, and then life comes along and throws you a curve. It doesn’t have to be a bad curve, like TB, but a curve that wasn’t on the master plan. Then you realize that master plans are sometimes illusions, like the mirrors in the fair fun house. And that, had it not been for such-and-such curve, you wouldn’t be in this particular spot at this particular time.

Where would our body of literature be without Walker Percy?


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