‘I'm A Nobel Laureate, But I Still Have Regrets'
Newsweek|July 02 - 09, 2021
It’s only human to feel sadness about the roads not taken in your life even if you’re a big success
By Dr. Robert Lefkowitz

Regrets—I’ve had a few. I wish I could say they’re too few to mention, but that wouldn’t be true. If you have ambition, you have regrets. It comes with the territory.

I recently made the mistake of writing a memoir recounting adventures from my life and career as a physician and scientist. Naturally, the writing process led me to also meditate on my many regrets, which unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to detail in the book because my publisher wanted to “keep things positive.”

One of my biggest regrets is that I never mastered a musical instrument. I played percussion as a student and also took piano lessons, but didn’t stick with it. I was in such a hurry as a young man to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor that other ambitions, such as my musical aspirations, fell by the wayside.

I constantly have Walter Mitty-esque fantasies of being an elite musician. Sometimes I even act these fantasies out. A few years ago, I took a visiting professor to an upscale restaurant on the Duke Medical Center campus in North Carolina. We had to wait a few minutes for our table, so I sat down on a bench in front of a piano. Suddenly, the piano sprang to life and began playing itself. Without missing a beat, I put my fingers on the keys and began swaying along as if I were playing. Many of the diners looked over at me, nodding appreciatively in the belief that I was spontaneously regaling them with some dining music.

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