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"An Officer And A Gentleman"

The story goes that a young man was running through the market place. A rabbi asked him why he was rushing so. The young man said: “I’m running after my livelihood”, to which the rabbi responded, “how do you know your livelihood is in front of you? Maybe it’s behind you and you’re running away from it.” Where are we going? That is the question. Patients in a psychiatric hospital are always asking when they can leave. But where are they going next? We the doctors, nurses, and social workers certainly make sure that our patients will have a place to live and a place to continue their mental health treatment after they leave the hospital. But that is only in the physical sense. The larger question is: where, ultimately, are they going? In fact, where are we all going? What do we do with our time? With all our rushing about, are we moving in the right direction? I am reminded of the powerful 1982 film,“An Officer and a Gentleman”. In my mind, the most poignant scene is when the tough Seargent Foley puts officer-to-be Zack through hell and then torments him to quit the naval aviation training: “You’re out!”, Foley yells. Zack’s response is intense and we, the audience , are drawn into his emotion, his frantic desperation. Feeling lost and alone, Zack breaks down and cries out: “I got nowhere else to go.” These words, “I got nowhere else to go” are the same words I hear from my patients. They are words that I suspect we all cry out at one time or another. They are part of our journey, and hopefully we find our way.

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