Today was a weird day at school. A student from another class, some years ahead of me, who I'd never met, passed away. It was sad, and a bit jarring. The administration, in their wisdom, never specified the cause of death. Good idea- tell a bunch of med students that someone has passed away and expect them not to pick it apart until they figure out the why's and how's. No one in our class knew the student, but a lot was made of the whole thing.
A few days ago, SP had been remarking to me that a recent study had measured depression and suicidal ideation in medical students. NPR had a piece summarizing the results as well. I thought a bit about it today, and to me, very little is actually done to address this issue, not in articles and not in medical schools. If anything, most of the stories that ever come out about this try to point to some convenient excuse. It's more complex than that. Then again, so is suicide itself.
This is simplifying it too, what I'm about to write, but I'm not pointing to it as a specific cause- just something that came to mind when all of this came out. Thing is, I think sometimes students put too much of their stake in medicine. It's a tightrope, because viewing medicine as just a job is a losing proposition too. You could certainly treat it like a job, but then you will really question why you are going to the trouble. There are plenty of other things you can do for a living that don't require as much training, debt, and pressure. But, still, investing all of one's hopes and dreams in medicine is just unsound.
I don't really know what I'm saying here, really, besides that I am cynical. I am somewhat cynical, I guess, but I never think of that as dark and dismal. Today, one of my classmates, who is a hardcore Christian, told me about three aspects of Christianity that particularly spoke to him:
- Life is not fair, and you are not owed anything.
- Life is full of suffering.
- God is good.
Now, me, I'm about as far from religious as you can get, and normally, someone who says they're a religious fundie evokes anaphylaxis and an immediate plotting of an exit strategy. But when he came out with those three things, he revived my hope that not all those who are religious are intolerant and/or irrational. Because what he was talking about is the paradox of life that you just have to get your head around.
I'd replace 'God' with 'Life,' but the idea is the same. There is a lot of ugliness, and hard knocks, and bad luck, a lot. Plenty of times, things seem hopeless. Plenty of times, things actually are hopeless. But still beautiful. I don't know. I still find it beautiful. Those little packages of beautiful themselves, Yazzy and Chai make a point of pointing out 3 beautiful things from time to time. I probably don't take the time to do that as I should, with as clear a head as I ought to. But I try my best to find one thing, to remember one thing every day that made my heart squeeze just a little tighter for that moment- it's always something, inevitably, that someone else would find wholly mundane- dough rising, cracking a tough problem, overcoming procrastination to make lunch in the morning, a well-timed arm around the shoulder. It takes so little, but then, I guess I don't expect that much.
Anyway, for me, there is the matter of baking to always keep me from losing my mind entirely, and to, more importantly, keep me humble. Below were cookies I made for an exchange party. The oatmeal cookie pictured is a trick- the actual cookies I took to the party had butterscotch frosting in the middle. However, that frosting was improvised and was, how to say, what's the term, oh I know- epic fail. In fact, the bellyflop of that butterscotch frosting caused me to flip out and make the chocolate cookies on the fly, as a sort of penance. Of course, as luck would have it, the chocolate cookies were a far bigger hit at the party.
After that, I went another round with focaccia. Bread making is becoming my favorite thing to do on Sundays. Later this week, I'll show you another experiment that was a semi-fail as well. Even if you're not reading, or would rather read about something actually interesting, or would like your eyes to recover from my horrible photography. I told you, I prefer the ugly, unnecessary, messy varietal.