Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Martin Luther King

The gang rape victim from Delhi passed away. I can't get her off my mind. Though I'm hours from there, protests  have erupted throughout the country. I don't know what it takes for change to occur but I hope that proper action is taken to ensure these types of atrocities stop. Why do women have to accept fear as a part of their lives? This could have happened to anybody

She told her doctors she had the will to live, to keep fighting. Her spirit has made thousands take this issue seriously.  Somewhere in the midst of law, politics, and stark human persistence, maybe there's hope. People are already taking action. I pray that they don't distill the importance of this tragedy with time. 

May she rest in peace.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Until 2013: what I've learned

"I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of."
— Joss Whedon

Tomorrow, I'm heading to India with my family, so this corner of the internet will be hushed for a bit. 

Last year, I reflected on courage and this time, I want to shed some light on looking back. The entire year felt like practice, whether it was in writing, medicine, the intersection between the two, or other areas of life. I made the usual list of long term goals and then some shorter term ones (finish editing novel, exercise more routinely, research women's health issues, connect with others who are into similar causes, etc.) As much as I grew from each of those, I always felt like I could do more. More. More. More. An inherent flaw in thinking. When is it ever enough
There's sometimes a fine line between ambition and pessimism. 

It's easy for all of us to beat ourselves up for what we haven't done or how difficult our own struggles are but every once in a while, it's important to remember what we've learned along the way and how far we've come. 

Here's my list of not resolutions but reflections:

-(From a post in early 2010 but reflected on more this year): It's important to view patients as individuals instead of populations. While the latter is helpful for understanding public health solutions, the former is imperative for providing the best care. 

-It's possible to write without pushing pen to paper. Sometimes the best words come while folding laundry

-The writing process demands patience. Just when the manuscript is done, it may need a rewrite. Just when those are done, the first half seems too slow. Then there's queries and partials and fulls and waiting and revising and starting over at any point.

-Long distance friendships have their own brand of meaning because they require effort, not convenience.

-Uncertainty---the kind that puts pressure on your sternum---builds character

-A bad mood can skew judgment

-The right type of love gets better every day

-Many beautiful things were created out of heartbreaks (of every kind)

-Empower others to empower oneself. Empower oneself to empower others. Teach fellow curious people about the causes worth fighting for in the world. 

What have you learned?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Patience and December

Something about December always brings a sense of urgency. Maybe it's my birthday, that tangible awareness of another year passing by, or that the calendar is about to shift.

As my mid-twenties have ended, I've realized that patience is a value that deserves to be cultivated. Everything worthwhile takes time. Malcolm Gladwell even quantified this idea and concluded that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at any craft.

While I can read and comprehend this, I've often struggled with embracing it. The usual questions commence:
Why am I always becoming? When will I be? 

Recently, I met a woman with advanced colon cancer. Because of grueling chemotherapy, she was weak and struggled to ask for Jell-O (the only food she could keep down). Before I left the room, I asked if there was anything else she wanted.

"I don't think so. I think I'm okay just to be." she said.

At one point, she and her doctors believed her illness could kill her. But then, against science, against even her own plans, more time came to her. She survived a risky surgery and slowly began responding to chemotherapy.

"I had already given up. And then, the world just didn't let me."

I thought about her for the entire day.
That night, I went and wrote this in my journal:

Put in your best effort and when you're ready to give up, put in some more. Somehow, the distance between those two spaces isn't as much as we often believe it is.