taken 20 years ago in 1996
One disadvantage of starting off early as a specialist was that I was a young man when I was fully trained. I was too young to have a ‘mature’ face to be the Head of my little unit in the biggest cancer hospital in Canada – Toronto’s University Health Network-Princess Margaret Hospital. Trust me, I worked very very very hard there. To a point that one of my colleagues once quipped, “Relax Ansgar, it is only a day job”… Maybe it was the runner in me, maybe I was wired as a task-oriented animal because when a task is given, it is supposed to be completed YESTERDAY!!
I asked my UCLA program director, Dr John Beumer about this age thing. He was also trained early in life and was in charge at UCLA when he was about 28. He told me, “Ansgar, I also had that problem when I started. People always wondered whether this young punk (John) could do the job or not but that problem was gone about two years later.”’
I was very keen to hear John’s solution to the problem! He went on to say, “Well, I lost my hair and since then no one questioned me!” That was a solution but it was NOT the solution that I was looking for!!
Regardless of how I worked, being a young professional (and keeping most of my hair) was not without its ups and downs. It was a lot of work indeed (did I forget to say work??) – taking care of my new private practice, maintaining my teaching at the University of Toronto, whipping up quick dinners (yes, I prepared dinners almost nightly back then), supporting my wife to go through a top combined MBA and Law degree program while taking professional examinations myself from time to time. Professional examinations were (and continue to be) almost endless – my last professional examination happened a few months before my first kid was born and I was 37 years of age!! This is on top of other family commitments.
With all these ‘important’ worldly commitments, one of the easiest ways to handle life was by eliminating ‘noises’ and guess what, ignoring one’s own well-being was an easy, economical and convenient option. I would be the last one to complain about my own negligence to myself!
Nowadays most runners I meet are younger than me. I certainly have a hard time keeping up with their energy level! When I look at my other younger running friends, sometimes I wonder how it would have been like if I were running at their age, i.e. if I do not have the ‘age handicap’ as I do now.
Well, if I was lucky enough to be born in Singapore and happened to be doing exactly what I have been doing for a living, things probably would not have changed a bit at all. That means, I probably would not be running as much as them at their age. That means I would probably still have ballooned up in size.
In real life, there is no what if. Unlike making movies, there is no “take two”. One of the pre-requisites to run is have a life that is pretty much under cruise control and also having family support. Any ‘extra-curricular’ activities has got to be under the support of a reasonably well run life.
We are all lucky in our own way to be able to run and shed the extra weightage.
Knowing all these, another key is – Don’t wait for the perfect moment. The moment is NOW!! Count the blessings and don’t wait until luck runs out!