I'm back from the mountains of North Carolina, where I spent
from last Thursday through Sunday. It was, as it always is, a
life-changing event. I learned so much from everything I
experienced there, and everyone that I met. My life is forever
changed. Coming back from such a life-altering experience is always
really hard. I find myself struggling with motivation, coping with
what we call the "default world," and dealing with daily
obligations. It's funny how being apart from civilization gives a
completely different perspective on what civilization actually
On the way up the mountain
I may have mentioned Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs before. Maslow
postulated that in order for humans to function, they must have
certain needs met. The fields of psychology, sociology and
anthropology have embraced Maslow's theory, on some level, and run
with it--proposing that everything from the basis of emotional
well-being, to the likelihood of success, stems from these needs
Image source: www.21stcentech.com
When out, away from civilization and the comforts of "home,"
people tend to do one of two things: they think about how much they
miss the comforts of home; or they realize how little those
comforts actually comfort them. I tend to be the latter, rather
than the former. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved a warm, dry
place to sleep, but for the most part, I didn't miss the Internet,
television, my cell phone, or even electricity.
Being apart from society and civilization would imply that we're
apart from each other. But that's not the case. I've found that
when I'm out in the woods, with other people, that that is when
society actually begins. We form a tribe, a family. I often wonder
why we don't do that, when we're among each other in the default
As students, we've been through several years of schooling
together. We're nearing the end. Stress is running VERY high among
our group. We're finding ourselves more anxious, more
short-tempered, more ready to judge, bicker, harass, and goad each
other. For those of us that have become close, we're finding it
easier to support, empathize, listen, and care for each other.
Perhaps some of this is because we know we won't be together for
much longer. Perhaps the rest of it is that we're so unsure of what
comes next. Perhaps some of us view each other as the member of the
family that we really don't want to associate with (because we
didn't get to pick this family).
In just under 9 months, we'll all go our separate ways. Some of
us will be friends for the rest of our lives. Some of us will never
hear from or see each other again. Just like my past weekend, some
of us will be friends for the remainder of our lives, and others
I'll never see again.
We have the opportunity every day to contribute to someone's
hierarchy of needs. We can build each other up, nurture each other,
be family (the good kind), and contribute to each other's
well-being, not just our patients.
Last, I want to plug some of the upper trimester classmates
who've been doing some good
community outreach work. My hat's off to you guys. You're
making it happen.
Until next week, my friends, I challenge you to think about how
your needs are being met, what you really need and want in your
lives, and who and how you view "family."
There never seems to be enough time in the day. As I sit here
surrounded by boxes and bags and suitcases, and wondering what in
the world I'm going to forget, I'm preparing to leave on a trip.
Every time I'm going somewhere like this, I'm scrambling around
trying to remember what to take, wondering if it's going to fit in
the car/bag/whatever, and worrying that I might forget something.
It never fails that I say to myself -- "Never again." And here we
are at the next round.
The same goes for finals and midterms, which thankfully are
winding down for me. The day will soon come when I don't have any
more of those. But until that happens, it's always last minute
cramming, note reviewing, and wondering whether I'm going to forget
There's something beautiful about the concept of being prepared.
It's been a long time since I walked into a test most assuredly and
thought, "I've got this." More often than not, I don't think about
it. I either have it, or I don't (or somewhere in between). That's
not unlike other situations either. Sometimes we just know we're
ready, and sometimes we're terrified. I find that being terrified
is far more detrimental than just generally not being prepared.
In a few--not so short--hours, I'll be in the mountains of North
Carolina, surrounded by a lot of people that I know and love. We'll
be battling the elements and whatever we come across (including
ourselves), just to experience that time together. It never fails
that something happens. Situations arise, accidents happen, people
get hurt--both emotionally and physically. There are people there
to help take care of those instances, including myself.
This year in particular,
we're faced with an event fresh in our minds, of a friend taking
their own life. The details of that voyage aren't relevant to this
writing, but suffice it to say, he felt like that was the only
option. As I look at my mound of boxes and bags and suitcases, I am
thinking about what he is missing, what effect his decision is
having on all of those around him, and what might have happened to
him if he had sought out help.
As physicians, it's our job/privilege to be there for our
patients--in whatever capacity they need. As a volunteer, that's my
job this weekend. I take it very seriously.
I'm probably not prepared for what might happen this weekend. I
never am fully prepared for these things. But I also KNOW, that
whatever happens, we'll all make it through together.
If you or someone you know is thinking about or talking about
suicide, please seek help. Talk to someone. People are willing to
National Suicide Prevention
How's everybody doing? It's Week 12 of the tri--4 weeks left
(including this one we're starting).
Well, it's no secret to those close to me that I've had a really
hard time focusing this tri. There've been sooo many distractions.
I'm convinced that it's also this time of year that makes this tri
so difficult--last year at this time I was struggling as well.
Perhaps it's the wanderlust of summer, or the fact that we're
perpetually in class. I'm not sure. Regardless, I'll be glad when
this Tri is over.
I've been working really hard to try to keep my wits about me.
At some point, I think it's common for all students to get
discouraged--whether we feel like we've been in school for 4
million years, are burnt out from studying all the time, need a
break, or have Life intervene. It's OK to have times like this.
I've taken a few trips, gotten involved in some outside
activities apart from school, and spent time doing things other
than school and studying. This past week/weekend, I participated in
a gathering of Kindred Spirits--kind of like a family reunion near
Asheville, NC. There were about 2,500 people there. Anytime there's
a gathering of that size, there has to be an infrastructure. We
have our own staff: medical, behavioral medicine, "law"
enforcement, etc.--all based on volunteers. I have been to this
event before and I usually volunteer for the medical staff. This
time, I volunteered for behavioral medicine--which was amazing. I
did end up filling in for some of the medical staff (with
certifications in first aid, etc.), but the behavioral
stuff--counseling and talking to people, was amazing. There were
times when it was a comfort to people who just knew that we were
there, holding space, should they need something or someone to talk
to. I love being able to give back.
I was able to reconnect with friends that I'd not seen in years.
There were local people there that I didn't know would be
there--and we were able to reconnect. I made new friends and new
connections that I will probably carry with me for the rest of my
life. Some of these people may be my patients later on. Some may be
my colleagues. Some are now just Family.
After such an amazing experience this weekend, I have to refocus
myself for finals (and boards). I hope that I will be able to find
that focus, and use my joy from the weekend, my beautiful
experiences with so many people, and my newfound connections, to
feed my Soul and keep me going.
What do you need to stay inspired?
Let's Play "Air Orchestra!"
• After the DC Degree
• Botanical Medicine
• 1 Year at National
• Marketing Project
• First Week in Student Clinic
To read older blog posts, scroll to the bottom and click the "Older Posts" button.