Thank you to everyone who has commented and followed my posts. I hope these have been as useful to you as they have been cathartic for me.
This pandemic has stressed society more collectively than anything else in a full century. And it is serving as the ultimately stress test for society as a whole.
Take a moment to reflect and rate how well you have managed this stress test. Be honest. It does not matter to me as much as it should matter to you. So you are doing yourself a disservice by lying.
Yes, I have a job. But I have ALWAYS lived within my means so even if I did not, I would have the 3 months of monthly savings all people, who have the ability to do so, should be doing. I had the choice and made it.
There are plenty of physicians who do not. So this is an issue across the board.
So I am managing my life well because I only focus on the things I can control. And focus on the things that make life so grand.
Such as another gorgeous spring day in Central Park. And helping a cute old man figure out how to send a picture to a loved one through email. And being in good enough health, operated shoulder and all, to take it all in.
I think losing my dad nearly 6.5 years ago was the catalyst for me to finally let go of things that do not matter. Because let me give you an example of what matters to me.
My kids, whenever they grace this world, will never get to know the love of their grandfather.
And just typing that is making me cry. A lot. Fuck, I'm bawling.
THIS is the stuff that gets my tears flowing, my heart racing, my stress levels up. Not the inability to go to restaurants, or get a haircut, or go to a beach, or traveling to an exotic locale. Yes, I miss all of those things. And at some point I will be able to enjoy those things again.
But not a kiss from Daddy. Or his hug. Or his advice and wisdom to navigate this life, a life I have been traversing much earlier than expected with only half of the monumental love I had ever known.
Because the only thing that I require to live a happy life are my family and friends.
Maybe not everyone shares that feeling, and this is why people can be callous enough to say let people die. Though I expect most feel the same way about their family. Just maybe not mine. Or yours.
But I care about each one of your families. Your friends. Your loved ones.
And I want you to savor those kisses, those hugs, those laughs for as long as you can. And I want you to let go of grudges or feuds because if you did not love these people, those grudges and feuds would have faded a long time ago.
Love springs eternal. As cheesy as it sounds.
Because these experiences, these memories, family, friends, are the true treasure of life. Priceless. And everlasting in the heart.
One thing I have preached for MANY years is the importance of not putting things off that are important to you. And I have chosen to live this way my entire adult life.
As an undergraduate student at IIT. As a medical student at the University of Michigan. As a resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. As a fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. And all the years I have been an attending.
I do not allow circumstances to dictate how I live my life. Mindfulness is a choice.
I have so many people who say they are jealous of how much I travel, how much I go out, how much I hang with friends. Some mistake this for FOMO. It is not.
I just know what makes me happy.
But I do not shirk responsibilities to do so. I just know how to balance ACTUAL responsibility and my happiness.
But many do not. People seem to run empty when it comes to solutions. But are well full of excuses.
So. Many. Excuses.
And those excuses, and subsequent imbalance created, is a pestilence on its own merit.
We should not be making excuses to delay our happiness. ALL of us should be selfish regarding how we take care of, and enrich, our OWN souls. The greater the amount of self-care we provide, the fuller our well of self-love becomes.
It is selfish to NOT be selfish.
If you want to be the
best parent best child best sibling best friend best human being
you can be, you MUST give to yourself so your well of love is full and overflowing. But too many give when the well has nearly or totally run dry. I see it all too often.
Life is short. And it is precious. Yet so many take it for granted.
This pandemic SHOULD be opening your eyes that at any given moment, your life, your normal, could be taken away from you at a moments notice.
The WHOLE WORLD is in various stages of shutdown, yet protests are rare in other countries. Except here. Where we protest to gain control over a world we have no control over.
I hear your underlying fear and insecurities and trust issues loud and clear.
But people do not want to put in the work required to get their head out of the gutter.
Because IT IS HARD.
People live a life avoiding things they find unpleasant, those things out of their comfort zone. Including the emptiness, insecurities, and struggles which have been buried, to the best of their abilities, within their own hearts. Because facing that reality TERRIFIES them.
This pandemic did not create this emptiness. These insecurities. These struggles. It only stripped people naked and removed any place to hide from them. And now people have no choice but to face the emptiness, the struggles, the insecurities, they are WOEFULLY ill-equipped to face. And their reactions reflect this reality.
Pretend you are back in school.
Tests for subjects you found easy or enjoyable are no issue. But tests for subjects you found difficult were either a struggle, sometimes ignored until the very last moment, or studied the bare minimum to achieve a passing grade.
As a result, your understanding of that difficult subject always remained cursory.
And in this case, the subject is Life.
The problem is you will never know how good you can be AT Life unless you choose to put in the work. So living a life of mediocrity or a life of fulfillment is your choice.
So are you going to finally acknowledge your emptiness, your insecurities, your struggles, and work hard to give yourself the Life you truly desire?
Are you going to be like my friend who has suffered from anxiety for years, which worsened with the shutdown and loss of control, but fucking worked HARD to be in a BETTER mental space now than she has been in for quite a while?
Or are you going to barely study as usual, and continue to panic and make excuses for barely passing the test of Life once again?
*NB: Barely passing a subject was unacceptable in my Indian household 🙂