Every stage in life, it seems, has its purpose. And by all accounts the purpose of this stage seems to be worrying about all the rest. I don’t mean med school specifically (not that this particular chapter is exactly “worry-free”), I just mean our twenties. We worry that we wasted that glorious, responsibility-free youth we all miss. We worry that we won’t make it through this phase. We worry that the next stage will never come, or that when it does it won’t have been worth the trouble. Heck, if you do any reading in Robbins Pathology, you’ll probably be shocked to reach the next stage at all.
But if there really is a “time for everything,” then I can’t help thinking these formative years of our lives shouldn’t be our “time to worry,” or even our “time to study with reckless abandon.” In fact, if you’ll allow me a bit of naive optimism, they might just be the “good ol’ days” so many people a few stages ahead of us keep taking about.
The trick to realizing this, most people seem to believe, is to “enjoy the journey,” “live in the moment,” and other sayings Tony Robbins has used to get exceedingly rich. Respectfully, I say those people have never been on a journey like this one, where the majority of our moments fall somewhere between “forgettable” and “torture.” But nevertheless, they’re right (damn you, Mr. Robbins) and if we don’t take time once in a while to smell the proverbial roses, we may just arrive at a destination not all that different or more enjoyable than the path that got us there. Besides, we’ll be all old and crap.
So how exactly does one smell the roses when the nearest flower bed is many miles away? You realize that both the literal and metaphorical kind come in all shapes and colors, and you do your damnedest to remember what yours looks like. For some it’s a hike. For others a long day with a good book. For a select few, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) does the trick. But whatever your metaphorical flower bed looks like, don’t make the mistake of assuming that this stage of life leaves you no time for a brief, daily visit, because even the metaphorical ones wilt if they’re neglected.
Depending on who you talk to life is either too short or too long to fill with forgettable days. And anyway, the best physicians aren’t always the ones that got the best grades, or even the ones who honored all of their rotations. The best physicians are the ones who are still in touch with themselves and the people they physici (pronounced fizish, it’s a thing). Lose touch with your flower bed and you lose touch with reality. And melodramatic as that sounds, reality is a lot less of a cruel unshaven bastard when you pay him mind more often than every three weeks. Thanksgiving is a great place to start, but in a few weeks when module finals are looming and Christmas is so close (and yet so far) you can practically smell the ginger bread and pine needles, thankfulness may not be so close at hand. So when that day comes, do yourself, your aching brain and me a favor: go smell some metaphorical roses, and remind me to do the same.