My immune system has apparently been challenged by the microbes in my new city, as I'm now recovering from the second of two viruses I have caught in the last three weeks. The first was a standard cold, and the second has been bronchitis.
With my asthma, I can't sing much at all when I'm sick. Even mild stuff like I've had this past month sets off bronchospastic coughing fits, making singing very difficult.
I love to sing - in the car, in church, on a stage - wherever and however I can. To not be able to sing feels like a connection between my inner emotion and outer expression has been severed. I feel muted in a way that nothing else can replace.
For this introvert, singing is a way that I can push outside of myself while not feeling too vulnerable. When I sing for an audience, I am either portraying a character or worshiping God. Neither is ultimately about me; lyric, tune, and purpose provide a comfortable buffer.
Writing is a solitary activity; I create it alone, and it's most likely read by my audience alone. Singing instantly connects me with other people. I suppose that I unconsciously pursued these two rather different skills to provide for different internal needs. The energy release from writing is quiet and self-satisfying, while the release from singing has a louder, more cathartic power.
I realized this week (in between coughing spells) that my career mimics these different dimensions, too. I have solitary encounters with patients and families, and I teach and present in groups. The balance of personal and public in academic medicine is a good fit for me.
I also realized that, after a year of blogging, I've barely commented on the "Singing" part of the "Pen of Doctor Jen." So, I'll try to share more of that piece of me from time to time.
Just as soon as the "Singing" comes back, that is.