April 18, 2009

"For the Life of Me" and "Depression Too is a Type of Fire" by Taylor Mali

Love and loss.

Taylor Mali is a poet and a teacher and a true inspiration of the Word. He is best known for "What Teachers Make."

I wish that I could speak with the eloquence and gravitas that Mali has at his command. These two poems hit a particular chord in me that continues to hum. There is so much of me that I wish I could share with the world, but my idle thoughts lie unpolished and forgotten in some unexpressed corner of my mind. I find myself wishing that I had more time to compose myself in a manner worthwhile, yet when I do have time, I spend it appreciating only the works of others. I feel a sense of love and loss, but it is more of a manner of withdrawing into my own little safe world of medical facts to protect myself from the real world's imagined(?) horrors and disappointments.

Every once and a while, I find moments. I live moments of love. The smile of a patient at the end of a visit -- "you'll make a great doctor someday." "good luck to you." "it was a pleasure meeting you." "thank you, doctor." "Student doctor," I respond. A warmth creeps into my body, a smile uncurls naturally onto my face. Small moments in which the connections I find myself wondering if I could ever make with another person -- are precisely the things I do every day. I know there is a division between professional and personal life. I wonder if these friendships are worth the lonely nights and weekends spent studying dry facts and memorizing the latest evidence-based guidelines. Am I merely an algorithmic medical computer?


The satisfaction I feel at the end of the day does not stem from the recognition of a particular diagnosis or a particularly clever question I ask. It comes from the bond I forge with my patients. Is it worth the sacrifice of a more social life? For now, yes. However, I don't think it is selfish to want something more.

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