Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Doctor, Write Thyself

I recently read an article by J. Rentilly that began with the opening lines: "IT IS SAID THAT THE PEN is mightier than the sword. The larger question, raised by a long, illustrious line of physician-authors, including Anton Checkov, W. Somerset Maugham, and Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone, may be, is the pen also mightier than the stethoscope?" Verghese expounds, "I think the foremost connection between being a doctor and being a writer is the great privilege of having an intimate view of one's fellow humans, the privilege of being there and helping other people at their most vulnerable moments." His words could not more aptly express my own views regarding the benefits of the synthesis of different fields. I've often come to the conclusion that I was born in the wrong era, that I should have been a Renaissance man like Da Vinci, for I shudder at the thought of having to choose one field, one area of study to pursue. Rather, I liken my mind to a sponge, absorbing all the wonderful knowledge that is to be gained, all the while trying to evade the tragic fate of Faust or Victor Frankenstein. My passion has always been to read, to write, to analyze, to explore, to learn, to grow, to make a difference through my efforts. I desire to join Doctors Without Borders and administer medical aid in third-world countries. One student once wrote, "I should be a writer, but I will be a doctor, and out of the philosophical tension I will create a self." Complexity makes people interesting, just as struggles make people interesting, for adversity gives rise to what Sharon Creech calls "bloomability." I feel that the practice of medicine allows one to grow closer to his fellow brethren, allows him to fulfill the prophetic words of Countee Cullen: "Your grief and mine/Must intertwine/Like sea and river/Be fused and mingle/Diverse yet single/Forever and forever." Leadership fails to recognize this universality, this collective unconscious, this sum of experiences that unites humanity. The mediums, the materials, the roads are infinite, stretching on interminably until they disappear into the horizon. "Do not rush," advises the orchestra conductor. "A ritardando is like a yellow traffic light. When people see one, they try to rush right through it..." Take one step at a time; there is no need to rush. Savor the moment for all it is worth. Slow down..."Rushing and racing and running in circles, moving so fast, I'm forgetting my purpose, blur of the traffic is sending me spinning, getting nowhere..my head and my heart are colliding, chaotic, pace of the world, I just wish I could stop it..sometimes I fear that I might disappear in the blur of fast forward..." "SIMPLIFY! SIMPLIFY!" cries Thoreau. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it." A voice in the night whispers, “Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime. And, departing, leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.” Legacy n. something that remains from a previous generation or time. "The powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse." Classic n. something created or made, especially a work of art, music, or literature, that is generally considered to be of the highest value and of enduring value; a piece or work that stands the test of time. In the quest for originality, creativity, innovation, inspiration, imagination obstacles consistently creep up. Solomon relates his nihilistic revelation that there is nothing new under the sun. Attempting to capture all experience, all existence, all consciousness, all being, all life and fuse them into one coherent theory of everything proves to be a gedankenexperiment. Trite, hackneyed, overdone, cliché...not to mention completely and utterly ludicrous, chimerical, impossible. Interminable internal struggle...“How I wish I were not a muggle!”

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

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