A26. Another Synchronicity of Events

After living in Syracuse for a number of years, my wife said that she was tired of the difficult winter weather there, which affected the city nearly half of each year.  While I only had to contend with driving back and forth from work, my wife had to spend a lot of time on the roads ferrying our four children to their various activities, and thus was stressed much more as a result of dealing with inclement weather conditions.  Further, it was difficult for my wife to develop her jewelry making business in the relatively small Syracuse market.


I was not keen on moving because my job was going well.  It would be unlikely for me to be able to replicate the same kind of balance between pulmonary medicine and hypnosis elsewhere as I enjoyed so much in Syracuse.  (A new employer would likely be uninterested in supporting such an unusual medical practice, perhaps because most employers do not like functioning outside of the box.)  However, after a number of discussions, we agreed that we would not retire in Syracuse. 


During the next few years we looked at a number of potential retirement locations.  We knew we wanted to live somewhere warm, and near an ocean.  I think an ocean was in our minds because my wife grew up in Philadelphia on the Eastern seaboard, and for the first 9 years of my life I grew up in Israel, with an ocean on the west.


An early favorite potential retirement locale on the east coast was Hilton Head, South Carolina.   When we first visited I thought it was an ideal location.  It had long sandy beaches, dotted with sea shells that we could collect, and even had dolphins frolicking near the ocean shore.  Hilton Head Island had numerous bicycles paths that we enjoyed utilizing and a peaceful, quaint village that was comforting to our souls.  I became so enamored with Hilton Head that I started studying its real estate market.


During our second visit to Hilton Head, during the following summer, we noted that it was quite hot.  Nonetheless, we continued to be charmed by the idea of living in such a peaceful place.  When we visited yet another time once again I enjoyed the beaches, and the dolphins, and the bike paths, and the village.  And that’s when I realized there was little else there that attracted us.  The nearest large city, Savannah, Georgia, was 40 minutes away.  So, we decided to continue our search for a place in which to retire.


I’m not sure what took us so long to start considering San Diego for our retirement.  We had been traveling to San Diego every few years in order to visit family, since my wife’s grandmother used to live there, and her aunt, uncle, and cousin still lived there.  I always had enjoyed visiting San Diego because it was the nicest place where I had ever lived in the United States.  I especially enjoyed relaxing by the ocean and the warm weather.  Perhaps, we didn’t initially consider San Diego because we had heard the housing prices were so high on the west coast.  Or perhaps it was because the opportunities for pediatric pulmonologists there seemed somewhat limited. However, when we finally got around to thinking about San Diego, it seemed like an obvious place for us.  Once I retired I would not longer need to worry about work as a pediatric pulmonologist.  And hopefully we would be able to save enough money by then to afford a small house in southern California.


We announced to our family that some day we would retire to San Diego, and that they should not plan on our remaining on the east coast indefinitely.  I think this announcement helped prompt my parents’ move from Syracuse to Phoenix, Arizona, where my brother lived with his family.  In this way my side of the family would become physically closer once we moved to California.


Shortly thereafter I found myself teaching a hypnosis course in Newport News, Virginia.  Briefly, I asked myself if this was a city in which we might retire, but realized that San Diego had more to offer as a bigger city with more places to visit and activities in which to participate. 


Following the introductory lecture of the hypnosis course I was approached by a pediatric gastroenterologist who wanted to introduce herself.  There are few pediatricians who study hypnosis, and therefore this physician wanted to meet me as a fellow pediatrician.  “I’m happy to meet other physicians who are interested in hypnosis!” I exclaimed.  “Where do you live?”


“San Diego,” she replied.  I smiled. “San Diego!  That’s where we plan to retire to some day!”


“You should come visit me,” she offered.


“Perhaps I will!” I replied.  I thought to myself:  If I were to visit I would get an idea of what kind of house is affordable for a pediatrician like me in southern California.  She wrote down her contact information on a small card that I placed in my wallet for safe-keeping.


Two years later, during another family vacation in San Diego, I called the gastroenterologist and again she invited us to visit.  She lived in a lovely home in Del Mar, only a short drive from Torrey Pines State Park, which housed my wife’s favorite beach in the world.  As I looked around the spacious home I felt encouraged that such living accommodations could be within financial reach in the San Diego area.


We introduced our families to each other, and I learned that the gastroenterologist’s husband was a Rabbi. “That’s great!” I exclaimed.  “I am very interested in Judaism and would like to get involved in the Jewish community here when we retire.  Perhaps I could even start teaching Bar Mitzvah students again!”


We talked about how such students might be identified within the different Jewish institutions in the San Diego area.  “When did you become involved in teaching Bar Mitzvah students?” asked the Rabbi.


“In Boston,” I explained.  “When I was a fellow in Pediatric Pulmonology I felt I was missing something in my life that was not fulfilled by the practice of medicine.  I think I wanted to develop a different kind of bond with students than I could express through a doctor-patient relationship.”


The gastroenterologist eyed me carefully at that moment.  “No,” she said. “It can’t be.”


I looked at her.  “What do you mean?”


“In what years did you teach Bar Mitzvah students?”


“In the late 80’s,” I said.  “Why do you ask?”


“I think I was one of you students,” she said.  “My parents hired you to teach me and two of my friends after we became Bat Mitzvah.”


“I’m sorry I did not recognize you,” I said. “You’ve changed!  And you have a different last name!”


Later during our visit, the gastroenterologist explained that as much as she liked hypnosis, she did not have time to employ it on a regular basis as part of her medical practice because of the large number of pediatric gastroenterology patients she was required to manage.


Another synchronicity of events, I thought to myself.  I wondered, twice already I was placed into a mentoring position in her life:   After she became Bat Mitzvah, and during a hypnosis course.  Is it possible that I was meant to mentor her again someday, perhaps with development of a hypnosis practice since we were both interested in this field?

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A27. Dreaming of a House

I had expected to have several more sessions with DJ in order to continue our post-transition work. However, we met on only two other occasions to discuss his career development path, and then he felt he no longer needed to return.

A25. Guided through Life

During the summer prior to medical school I met with the Cantor at my parents’ synagogue and asked him to help me to continue to learn how to chant from the Torah.

A24. Finding my Spiritual Self

The amazing events with DJ reinforced ideas and feelings about life that I had been developing for a couple of decades. Thus far I have shared how my involvement with the world of medicine helped instruct me about how life can work.

A23. Return of a Friend

During the following two weeks until DJ’s next appointment with me, I kept thinking about the remarkable lessons that DJ and his subconscious were teaching.

A22. The Role of a Leader

DJ brought a copy of “Dharma Bums” to his next visit with me two weeks later. “You were right!” he exclaimed. “The part about the paths was not in the book.”

A21. What happened?

I looked out my office door at 4:59 pm on Sunday, December 23. And precisely at 5 pm DJ walked down the darkened hall towards my office. (For some reason, no one else was seeing patients at that time.)