by Sandra Block

When I turned forty, my husband gave me a gift certificate to Bikram Yoga.

I’m not much of an athlete, but I was intrigued. Yoga in a hundred-degree room? With a busy medical practice and two young kids, I didn’t have a lot of “me time.” I figured it could be a path to relaxation at least, if not true enlightenment.

So with much trepidation, I showed up at the studio one evening.

I love-hated hot yoga. Baking in awkward poses was arduous, but the endorphin high was undeniable. One practice turned into a weekly practice, and soon enough, I was a regular. And every week I would sit in the locker room with other sweaty women, staring at a sign prominently placed on the wall.

You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.

Something about this message spoke to me, wormed its way into my head. Week after week, the sign nagged at me. Because somewhere along the way in my forty years, I had started to feel too bad, too old, and too late. I had lost sight of something truly important: my dreams.

In my heart, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. At six years old, I still remember the thrill of looking at the clouds and writing about a plane’s contrail “like chalk against the sky.” I didn’t know I was writing poetry. But I knew I wanted to do this.

I wanted to be a writer.

But holding onto your dreams isn’t easy.

Saying you want to be a writer is cute when you’re six. But when you’re sixteen, the question arises, “that sounds nice, but…how are you going to support yourself?” So I thought about other options. Since I was fascinated by the brain, psychiatry seemed like a good back-up.

I was torn. In college, I was an English major along with pre-med. Over the summer, I interned at The Buffalo News and also shadowed a psychiatrist. Graduating college, it was time to make a choice. In the end, I chose the surer, more respectable pathway. I became a neurologist.

But, it’s hard to turn off that writing spigot. Over the years, I published in medical journals. I jotted off aborted chapters which rotted on various old computers. But when I considered seriously writing again, the pursuit seemed doggedly past tense.

But, there was that sign. The words niggled at me, poked me.

You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.

Was I really too old, too tired, too bad, and too late?

Was it really past tense? Or could I do it? Could I start from scratch again?

So, I did it. I didn’t leave my day job, but I started writing. Every morning I would work for a half hour. After a year, that turned into a book, and then an agent, and finally a book deal. At the age of forty-two, I became a published writer. I had stolen back my dreams.

It’s been years since I’ve done hot yoga. (It turns out I was in fact too old to stretch my body into impossible positions for weeks on end.) But I will never forget walking into that studio, nervous but hopeful. My husband thought it would be an original birthday gift.

You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.

He didn’t realize how much more he was truly giving me.

 

Sandra A. Block graduated from college at Harvard, then returned to her native land of Buffalo, New York for medical training and never left. She is a practicing neurologist and proud Sabres fan, and lives at home with her husband, two children, and impetuous yellow lab. Little Black Lies is her debut, a finalist in the International Thriller Awards, and The Girl Without a Name and The Secret Room are the other books in the Zoe Goldman series.

Her latest stand-alone novel What Happened That Night comes out in June 2018.

 

 

 

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