Another Birthday Reflection

Fifty years ago this summer I traveled by turbo-prop plane to this country for my exchange student year. I landed, delayed, at Logan airport around 2 am. My host family drove me to their home in a boxy white Studebaker wagon with a bale of hay in the back where I also put my suitcase and guitar. I had just found my musical hero that spring: James Taylor, whose songs have followed me ever since.

The impressions that year provided have shaped my life, from the optimism and the ideals of self expression of that era to the vision of the family doctor that the Marcus Welby, MD television series gave me. I traveled to New York City during that school year and was halfway up one of the twin towers then under construction. After graduation I got a Greyhound pass and saw 30 states in 30 days. Visiting my host family’s older children, I slept in an Adobe hut in New Mexico and in a hippie environment in Mendocino, California. I was smitten with the diversity and vastness of this country that seemed to have room for everybody’s American dream.

And, sometimes through planning, sometimes by circumstance, my American dream unfolded. Now, fifty years later, I find myself marveling at all those events that put me in Swedish country in northern Maine as a country doctor and a writer – the two things I always wanted to be.

Every day I live now is filled with joy because of my children, my animals, this little farm and the work I love. I no longer have the hunger of the younger man I once was.

I’ve had many gloriously happy moments and they’re only memories now. I have gradually shifted from striving for new experiences to cherishing the ones I have had. I have also, perhaps later than some, come to stop ruminating about what to do next.

From Horace’s Carpe Diem to Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now to James Taylor’s The Secret of Life, we must remember to live in the moment. Because only the moment is real, everything else is only memory or imagination.

So, once again, I say to myself Happy Birthday, Country Doctor.

Happy Birthday, Country Doctor

6 Responses to “Another Birthday Reflection”


  1. 1 Regina South July 18, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    Happy Birthday!

  2. 2 Jess Noodi July 18, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    Birthday Greetings.
    Today’s post was extra special.
    You are much appreciated for your blog and videos.
    Clear and frank explanations about our health.
    Your videos should be part of med school curriculum.

  3. 3 marilyn Findlay July 18, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Dr. Dew. as I always called you., Thanks for this post. I will take your advice as always. It is not easy to slow down and change your ways. Even at 88 years old. My body is finely telling me I have to. I don’t want to think it is old age so I can blame it on the Covid Shot and you not being in Bucksport to prop me up. This year I admit I need it. I miss you and your wisdom. Keep up the writing. I am still venting in poems, the diary that allows me to turn the pages of each day. I look forward to each and every post from you. What more can I say. I am sure a lot of your patients miss you also.

    Lynne, Marilyn Findlay, formerly from Verona Island, Me.

  4. 4 G.B. Groen July 19, 2021 at 4:09 am

    Happy birthday lucky man! And i wish you many many more good years to Come!!

    Ineke Groen, gp pensionada

  5. 5 Spring Texan July 19, 2021 at 9:09 am

    A very happy birthday to you! Hope you will have a wonderful year! and thanks for your column . . .

  6. 6 Kris Deeter July 21, 2021 at 3:46 am

    Thank you for your reflections and your insight. As physicians, we are trained to constantly look forward to the next test, the next semester, the next residency, the next job. “Gradually shifting” to cherish past experiences is a profound reminder to slow down and honor where you are. I am also a huge fan of James Taylor’s wisdom: “…we could never have guessed we were already blessed where we are…” Happy birthday!


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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.

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