Remembering this pearl can be either humbling or comforting, depending on whether you find yourself in a peak or a valley. I hear it most often from my mother during “valley” moments. It’s the “silver lining” or “light at the end of the tunnel” concept. It is by no means a new sentiment, but it is one that bears repeating.
Whether you’re a comrade in the midst of Step 1 studying, making a difficult transition from school to work or between jobs, struggling with family issues, feeling depressed, or any other circumstance that makes life something less than “enjoyable” or even “bearable” right now — remember that it’s just that: right now. Never lose sight of the changeability of your life (and I am addressing this as much to myself as I am to anyone reading it). A dear friend reminded me just today to keep faith, and it made me reflect on the myriad ways that faith can have purpose in our lives. There is religious and spiritual faith of course, and that may hold meaning for many people. But there is also faith in yourself, faith that things will turn out okay, faith that we are on a positive path, faith that we are meant to be here: in this school, in this job, in this field. Some may call this faith “hope” or “trust” instead. Semantics aside, keeping faith may be easier said than done.
There are many ways we can try to remind ourselves to keep the faith and look forward to climbing out of a valley to a peak. At this particular juncture of my life (Step 1 studying), there are valley and peak moments of each day and each week. Today may have been a slow study day, but tomorrow’s a fresh new one. My study space is filled with books, colored pens, and sticky notes, but it also has its share of uplifting, encouraging, happy things: a “good luck” note my mom left this morning before work (complete with a kiss, or an umma, and her signature goofy cartoon smiley face); a little stuffed microbe of Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) to keep me company; motivational cards from loved ones; a new and much beloved pug mug to drink tea from; handwritten prayers from my Ammachi (grandmother). More than pretty items to decorate my table, they are symbols of the love and support that we are surrounded by. Surround your space — your study space, work space, even your mental space — with reminders. Let them remind you of where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. Let them remind you of your purpose, and of those people and passions that enrich your life and bolster you. And always remember:
“For every valley there will be a peak.”
My mother is a very simple woman. Though she may be a well-respected physician at Columbia University, you might never know it if you saw her. She dresses simply, she speaks kindly, and she cares endlessly. Her wealth lies not in her tangible possessions—she doesn’t even own a pearl necklace. Her pearls are of wisdom, and it is those pearls that I hope to share with you.