Friday, October 15, 2010

Day #51 & #52: mortality

Turning thirty has taught me many things. The most profound thing I have learned is that life is fragile, and none of us are promised tomorrow. I look back on my younger years, and I think how invincible I felt. I could do anything, I could be anything...nothing would hurt me. And then I grew up. I surveyed my surroundings and realized that life is not an indestructible steel rod, but a beautiful crystal vase easily shattered.On a day to day basis, I see people come into this world and taken out of this world. What was it about 30 that suddenly caused this awakening within me? Why at 30 have I finally decided to grapple with the idea of mortality?

I always think of my patients when I have a bad day. Sure, the light bulb needs to be changed, there's no milk in the house, and I desperately need to shampoo my hair. Then, I think of the people I care for day in and day out. I wonder, how would I react if diagnosed with cancer? Would I curl up in a little ball and wither away to nothing, or would I face it head on, armed and ready to go into battle? I'm not sure. It's perplexing to think of ever being put in that situation. It's always the same, "it's never me it's someone else." And then one day it is you or someone you love or someone dear to you.

My patients have taught me that each day needs to be lived to the fullest. Life is a precious gift that should never be taken for granted. Each breath, each beat of a heart is the most miraculous wonder in the world. I wish I could express how deeply my patients have changed me, and how much gratitude I have to them for teaching me about living life to the fullest. Despite adversity, pain and horrible sickness, many of them continue to trudge ahead. They are my heroes. I think we all stand to learn something from a person suffering from a chronic or fatal illness. Life throws curve balls, and it is a struggle some days. The fact of the matter is a life lived with purpose and intent is a life well lived. It is cliche to say, but live each day as it is the last, and be thankful for each and every additional day you are granted. Find joy and love in the simplest of things. And above all, tell each and every special person in your life on a daily basis how much they mean to you, and how much you love them.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein

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