THE POWER OF PROXIMITY
February, 2023 By Brett Levine, MD
As I raise my kids, I try to share lessons that I’ve learned with them despite my teenagers knowing everything already.
One power that seems intuitively obvious but is deceptively often forgotten is proximity.
At Thanksgiving last year, I shared my gratitude for our lives in so many ways. I am thankful to have found a life partner who balances my good and bad qualities, partners with me in our goals and expands my world with hers to extend who I can be to more than I imagined.
That is the power of proximity.
That is the hidden secret of all those people with whom I choose to live, grow, raise a family, struggle and be influenced on a constant yet imperceptible basis.
I am thankful for the blessing of my parents who defined for me what family looked like, what a husband, wife, father and mother do, what unconditional love feels like, and what values and traditions mean.
As student, we all learned the importance of different classes, teachers, strategies, and connections to provide suggestions, recommendations and secrets toward our next goals. A better school provides better teachers, opportunities and opens better doors for the next rung along the academic ladder of success.
I didn’t always appreciate the effect of my communities along the way to define for me what is normal.
Now I realize how blessed I have been to not be subject to have started with the belief that I can achieve or create whatever I want in order to live my best life.
In medicine, our culture empowers laws and a medical mindset which we learn from those that surround us and smother us.
We learn to excel at:
surviving and thinking independently,
overcoming obstacle after obstacle,
working harder than everyone else,
prioritizing goals and achievement over the rest of life,
always saying yes, and
achieving more than most.
These medical mindset mantras helped us excel and succeed to develop an expertise, a career and a steady income.
BUT that mindset also becomes so powerful that we do not even realize it has saturated our thoughts and lives to hypnotize us into a medical trance of a Stepford Doctor working for a system that has other priorities than our growth and happiness.
I utilized and maximized all the laws of medicine to help me create my successful practice and care for my patients for 27 years.
I pushed myself as hard as I could with all I learned from my proximity in medicine until became trapped by walls of no more time, no more growth no more energy no more support for the future I dreamed of.
As I grappled with these barriers and my obsession with expansion, I was forced to get uncomfortable and To challenge the medical mindset which I had always relied on for success.
In the graduation speech, This is Water, David Foster Wallace shares the story of 2 little goldfish swimming in their bowl.
An older goldfish passes by and asks: “How’s the water, boys?”
After he swims by, one goldfish asks the other “What is water?”
I realized at that point in my life that I was a doctor swimming in the fishbowl of medicine and I no longer acknowledged or appreciated the water I was swimming in. Or drowning.
I was ready to discover bigger waters outside the bowl. I did so through the power of proximity.
In my next post, I will share 8 powers of proximity which transformed my life and can change yours.
What is your water?
Is that where you want to swim for the rest of your life?