On the End of a Thread.

 

I recently had the opportunity to care for a teenager who had been critically injured in a motor vehicle accident, and I have realized this:

A determined spirit defies odds.

I learned from his mother how this boy has been beating his chances his entire life.  When he was supposed to be crippled by disease and dysfunction, he walked and played and spoke like the other children. He fostered a spirit of selflessness and would often stop to help anyone in need, such as two ladies moving into a new house. For years he worked through various therapies, and just months after graduating from therapy, his accident occurred. I truly believe this boy has the spirit of an angel, and his determination to overcome obstacles is why he is alive.

He has also allowed me to realize:

We must live each day to its full capacity.

But life is fragile. Tomorrow doesn’t hang so heavily and definitively in front of us. It is a gift that perches itself delicately within us each night, so that we may wake up each morning and enjoy it. Except we forget that, at any moment, it might decide to stretch it’s wings and flutter off to new horizons.

We must dream as if we’ll live forever, but live as if we’ll die today.

It is so easy to forget to live fully. All too often, we find our narrow minds focusing all our energy on running errands, meeting deadlines, and rushing from home to work and back. But I have realized how illuminating it can be to just stop and experience the small wonders of life. The simple act of putting down my cell phone and looking around while I’m walking lifts a weight off my shoulders. Sitting outside and merely feeling the sunshine and the grass and observing the insects and birds reminds me how small I am in this world, and what aspects of my life are most important. When I take the time to really taste the flavors of my food, instead of scarfing every bite down like it was my last, I feel peaceful and satisfied instead of stressed and burdened for no reason at all. These experiences will not last forever, and I want to cherish them when they pop up and my senses are still sharp.

Life hangs on the end of a small wire. Beautifully crafted and serene. Take the time to stop and look at it.

Breathe deeply, love passionately, act fearlessly, live fully.

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Behind Your Tattered Shoes.

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Standing in the brimming room of my future peers, I tugged at my slacks and swayed from one high heel to the other, noting the understated jeans and t-shirts surrounding me. My choice for business casual dress was clearly misguided, because I felt like I stuck out like a glowing neon sign reading, “Hi, I’m awkward!” Regardless the uneasy beginning, as the morning proceeded, I noticed a swelling inside my chest: pride. As I scanned the individuals surrounding me and listened to speakers describe the grandeur of medical school, I felt a sense of belonging and honor. For four (and often more) years, my classmates and I have grit our teeth and bore through pre-med rigor. We have studied furiously, volunteered tremendously, and sacrificed our time, money, and sleep to earn the privilege of sitting in that auditorium. The more I learned about my peers, the more I realized how remarkable our crowd is. One woman has four kids, yet still chose to pursue the long haul of medical school. Another girl lost her mother, but you would never know from her fierce, vibrant spirit. But possibly the most impactful was a peer who wore torn shoes to his interview, because he couldn’t afford new shoes. It was his third time applying, and instead of choosing one of the hundreds of other qualified, polished, smug applicants, my school chose him. Because great physicians are built from so much more than perfect grades and wealthy backdrops. They are built from struggle and perseverance. They can relate to those who are suffering, because they have suffered. They can solve problems and be innovative, because they have formed their own solutions before. While I ballooned with respect, I realized that these individuals would soon become family, and this school would become home.