Friday, July 25, 2008

Typing My Way Through

I've been typing my way through the dark hours in an effort to maintain the night schedule I'm currently assigned to on my emergency medicine clerkship. Only six shifts remain in this 4 week marathon sprint through emergency medicine. My lists from the ER have grown long with procedures learned, diseases treated, and stories both of pain and resilience. This evening I've bounced between editing my residency application's personal statement, that left-over of a paper from grad school that just can't seem to make its way into print, blog posts here and elsewhere, a presentation about blogging in the public sphere for a meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation, and a few case studies for an ethics class I hope to help teach in the Winter quarter. Typing my way through the night, indeed!


As the morning dusk transitions into the early hues of dawn, I realize that there's more than just productive work going on here. Sunrise has always inspired reflection in me. Context is an important historical factor here: 2 AM weariness has been reliably rewarded with 5 AM ebullience secondary to completing a project or assignment; early rising is often associated with an exciting day's activity; waking up with the sun reminds me of fond camping memories.

Today seems different to me, however. The sun is rising on my day in the context of deliberate introspection. Whether it be blogging recent experiences in the emergency room or dissecting (massacring?) the one-page personal statement, tonight prepped me to reflect on more than just why I do medicine. Why do I write? Why do I love? Why teach? Why make art? Why work so hard?

Maybe it's that built-in ecstasy of the morning, but today the answers to each of these for me is all so clear. And I think it's the same for many people, and especially health care workers.

I seek to make a difference.

In family life. In students' learning. In patients' health. In my own health. In my community. In...

Sure, there are other subtle or specific reasons for doing the things I do, and other large parallel motivations exist for how I carry on and prioritize my activities. My personal faith, for example is a dominating motivator and inspiration for me.

My "a-ha" this morning was due to my realization that each of the major pillars of my sense of self is linked to the other. I write to help myself through the trials of medicine or love. I teach to build understanding - in myself and others - of the interrelation of the human condition through art, science and medicine. Medicine helps inform my writing, teaching, and how I love friends, family and fellow man. I work to fill in gaps that will always persist - in my own understanding, between rich and poor, and between sickness and health.

All of this is too vague and flowery for a personal statement, but nothing's off limits for blogs, right? When it comes down to it, I'm training to be a doctor because I love. Walking along side people for a little while in times when they need help doesn't sound so bad to me as a profession. But balancing self-care and care for others is a trick for anyone invested in others' personal lives. For me, it's a lot easier when the facets of life are tied to central principles.

Interconnectivity of personal purpose has worked for me. Is there a reason I do this or that? For me, the answer is yes even though I'm be able to put my finger on it at the time. For example, I started blogging in the dark days (they usually hit around the third year) of graduate school; writing generated in me a greater comprehension of calling. If only because it was so helpful then, you can expect to find me typing my way through future joys and struggles as well.

And now, I must go wake my wife. My goodnight kiss is her good morning. Today, I'm an alarm clock, too.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Today seems different to me, however. The sun is rising on my day in the context of deliberate introspection. Whether it be blogging recent experiences in the emergency room or dissecting (massacring?) the one-page personal statement