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Jumping: From Between Two Worlds

I am moving, yet I am going nowhere. I am going nowhere, yet I have come a long way. I do not count how many go by, but each spin demands that I keep moving. With every rotation, I take another step, another leap, one jump on this Earth. These cycles fly by, so much so that I can almost hear them as they whoosh over my head in an instant, making seconds go slow. For those willing to take the step, this full-circle reality becomes shared. The constant rhythm hums a ceaseless tune, paying no mind to its patrons’ attempts to engineer different songs of the same note. I like the sound I have made though, so I keep my feet moving to this hip-hop beat.

This thread of time orbits me in a series of identical waves, but I remain free to move. The way I land on my feet is unique for every step. The part of my soles that push the ground, the pressure I apply and the direction I go craft my own reality and the creative journey that unfolds. They say time is longer than rope because you will never find the end of its line, but I have a grip of mine, and in fact, I have two handles of time. In a two-by-two square, I am holding on tight, spinning this rope 360 degrees around, with one goal in mind: just keep jumping.

So jump I did, and jump I’ve done. July 2023 marks 12 months since I got a hold of a jump rope and first set it in motion.

Two weeks prior to my first day in medical school, I recall reading a narrative on the “arrival fallacy,” tailored to students like myself. The arrival fallacy is the expectation that happiness comes only after accomplishment. It speaks to the self-fulfilling illusion that once you have accomplished the lofty goal in mind, then, and only then, will you be rewarded with fulfillment and happiness. Time flies, however, and success visits suddenly; alluring aspirations halt as they become tangible realities. The instant adrenaline and lingering dopamine buoy you only momentarily, but eventually, the next tide comes, and the fulfillment ends. The once-alluring tidings transform into yesterday’s stories, leaving you adrift in a sea of confusion. You followed the map, obeyed its directions and endured the arduous path to the ‘X’ in the sand. But no matter how deep you dug, there was no treasure chest to be found. Staring at an abyss, you are faced with the empty reality that the wellspring of fulfillment has run dry and now awaits your desperate chase to fill it once more.

When I first donned my white coat, that narrative came to life.

My white coat ceremony concluded and quickly became a blurry part of my past. I found myself still, just a frozen mold stuck in time with the empty thought: “What now?” I now know this painful sentiment to be a shared reality among many students, especially in the medical field. We are in a ceaseless state of progression, always preparing for the next level. The beauty of these feelings is that they reflect the intrinsic qualities of the medical field they represent, which is in an endless pursuit of discovery and innovation. The shared reality among scores of medical students across the world is that our profession is ever moving. Medicine both demands and depends on change. Our collective body of medicine is only able to stand with one foot in the future. As honorable individuals, who took an oath to maintain the noble traditions of this profession and abide by standards to advance medical knowledge, we all find ourselves standing with the same ensuing stance. The fact of the matter is, for as long as we hold this oath sacred, we will never catch up to our front foot. This shared reality is naturally not conducive with “being present” because living in the moment is impossible when we are always focused on the next one. Our minds are one step ahead of our bodies, and when we come to this realization, we feel as though we have left ourselves behind because tomorrow never comes.

As a budding medical student, however, I yearned for a way to regain my natural stance. I made it a priority to be present, find a balance in time and get my two feet back under me. I dedicated myself to reclaiming a spot entirely within the moment. I closed the gap between my feet which were in two different eras of time and re-aligned myself for movement in a different direction. Stepping into the cadence of a twirling tempo offered me a whisper of control. My mood for the week directed my shoulders and wrists to generate a certain revolutions per minute that my tiring legs and feet could match before the rope would snap and the rhythm ended. In a systematic trance, like a descending wave, my body became one. I was hooked, and what was once just a childish exercise became cemented in my weekly routine. The minimal time, space and equipment required for this sport made it the perfect fit for a busy student in the bustling city of Miami. The built-in opportunities to learn new tricks and transition them into sequences with a jump rope was the creative release my inundated brain craved. The mental baggage in the form of forelooking, ruminations and current anxieties gracefully lifted as one thought dominated my mind: just keep jumping.

When my colleagues learn I like to jump rope, they are mostly surprised at my out-of-proportion enthusiasm for such a specific form of exercise. The conversation will lead to a discussion of what the specific physical appeal is for this activity. In honesty, my initiation into the world of jump rope was not driven by its physical rewards; those revelations only unveiled themselves months later, unexpected and serendipitous. Instead, I sought a personal sanctuary, an escape uniquely mine, set in motion by the long-neglected jump rope resting in my garage that beckoned me. The stagnation I faced after achieving a lifelong goal set in motion a desire for movement. I found my antidote to the “arrival fallacy” lay in the movement towards goals themselves — not to harvest joy solely from their attainment but rather from the enriching nature of their pursuit and the growth it has in store for me. This sport is a culmination of single steps that require individualized attention and meaningful presence, and this rope underscored the significance of each of these steps for any movement to continue. In its pure essence, my happiness found its roots in the motion itself, transcending destination or direction. Simply, what made me happy was that I was moving and not that I was going anywhere.

The feelings I had in my early medical career instilled a justified doubt about setting any more goals. I worried that the efforts required to reach them would be futile if the achievement did not provide me with the happiness I was looking for. However, we should not forsake our intellectual capacity to set goals merely out of fear that achieving them will not bring satisfaction. Frankly, it is a taxing practice to live in a perpetual state of the present time and not an optimal solution to sustainable satisfaction. I am still a firm believer in having an eye on the prize. Without a destination in mind, there is no intrinsically meaningful reason to take a step forward. Nevertheless, in our respective journeys forward, we must routinely acknowledge the place where we stand. It took a simple rope for me to momentarily escape the fixation I had on arriving, and finally appreciate the stationary place where I planted my feet. Strangely enough, this repetitive motion finally allowed me to stop. Only then could I remember and admire the reason for the movement itself. So yes, I am moving, but I am not going anywhere, and in that I have come a long way.

I am not promoting a single approach nor desire to praise any single activity as a sure-fire vessel for success. Rather, I hope to encourage others with reflections from an activity I have come to call my own. I only implore us to relish the present ground upon which we sit, stand or run. To immerse ourselves in the pull of our body’s presence. No matter how you choose to achieve this personal space, no matter where you are or how you feel in this present state, with both feet grounded between the worlds of what was and what will soon to be: just keep jumping.

Image credit: Pexels.com (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Rakan Alshaibi Rakan Alshaibi (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

Rakan Alshaibi is a medical student at FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine in Miami, Florida, Class of 2026. In 2022, he graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and cell sciences. He enjoys writing, jump roping, and watching soccer matches in his free time. Rakan is yet to decide on a career in medicine, but is passionate about global surgery and health equity.