Sunday, October 04, 2009

Would you prefer the easy way? No, well okay then, don't cry.

October arrived abruptly. The past month was a blur anyway, but October came and it went from the scorching heat of summer to the cool wind of fall overnight. Do I make it sound like a bad thing? That's not my intention. When the chill came, when I had to shut the ceiling fan off to fend off the shivers, I knew everything was going to be alright. Not just because I can turn on my oven. Not just because it means I've survived by far my worst month of medical school. No, not just all of those things.

But all the same, whatever the reason, there's a pizza in the oven. There are people, even in the horrible morass of medical school (and I can now call it a morass with complete certainty, having seen the ugliness that is prevalent among medical students up close and personal now), who have lent a hand. I thought, for a time, that I was taking advantage of them. Maybe I am a bit, but I am grateful for them, and that has to count for something, I like to think.

I suppose I was set free recently when an attending told me that I should be more of a show-off, play the game. It was strangely liberating, because, while it was a criticism, it was one of those moments that defines you in life. A line is placed in front of you. You can cross it and it may get you some short-term gain. But you have to live with what is on the other side. And I realized, I am willing to pay the consequences of staying on my side, of staying fundamentally me.

I've realized that a lot of people in school think I am young because I appear to be quite malleable. Which I am. But the thing is, that's because I know I have plenty of flaws. And I really and truly love many aspects of medicine. I want to be good at it. So I tend to take criticism seriously and adapt accordingly.

But not this kind of criticism. And it feels, oddly enough, good to know that there are some parts of me that are not amorphous. Some parts of me are set in stone. I could change them, but I could not live with the change.

I was reminded of all of this, tangentially, because I had recently purchased Amelie on DVD for sanity prophylaxis, and was watching it today. For some reason, I was thinking of seeing it in the theater. I had been living in New Jersey at the time, and we had to drive 40 minutes to get to a theater that was playing the movie. Not only was it well worth the trek, but as I sat there, soaking in this perfect, perfect film, I remember thinking that I didn't ever want to lose the part of myself that, even while living in multiplex suburbia, was compelled to seek out such little treasures.

Elsewhere, I can handle. Not fitting in, no problem. But I don't want to be a stranger to myself. And now that I know that, I somehow know everything will be fine.

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