Today, my sister finished 6 years of medical school. That’s nearly 50,000 hours. For the more than half a decade, I have called her countless times to find her either in class or in the library or studying way past my bedtime. As the older sibling, she was also assigned the duty of handling her baby brother’s tantrums and rants about how engineering is hard and the world is unfair and how he procrastinated all day. And somehow, she managed to make me feel better about all of it. Truth be told, she didn’t have to be a doctor to fix whatever I was going through.
Textbooks bigger than my arms and chemical terms longer than my full name. Her field has always seemed so daunting, especially since the only medical experience I have comes from House MD. We would often enjoy fun late night Q&A sesh’s where she would ask me complex questions and I’d give the most ridiculous answers you have ever heard. In those moments of laughter, I was happy I could share just a bit of the heavy burden she carries on her back.
We were sent to boarding school at a very young age. We only had one another to cope as we prepared for a life of living away from our parents and eventually, from each other as well. As a cool pre-teen, I never fully appreciated the role she played even then. No one wants someone watching over you and taking care of you at that age. But you need it. And I did. At the end of the day, I needed someone to tell me that it was going to be alright. That we’d see our parents soon. That cuts and injuries healed over eventually. That I was a good person no matter what. More than a decade since we were in boarding school together and she still does all of that. Whenever I need it. Every single time.
As incredible as completing medical school is, it’s still not the most remarkable thing I’ve seen her do. She was the third parent. She was the backbone to my parents as I snored blissfully in the back. I honestly don’t think I’d have made it this far without her.
But enough about her. As a brother there’s only so many nice things you can say about a sibling. She gets nothing but jokes about her face for the next few weeks. But for today, my congratulations to her and the people she graduates with. They go on to become the healers we need so desperately in the coming years. I wish her and all of them the best of times ahead.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Change is the only constant. I miss the days when this meant simpler things like transitioning from high school to university or finally moving out of your parents house to start a new life of your own. Such changes are so common that we’ve made our peace with them. We know that they must happen and only a handful try to resist these natural changes.
When it was my time to leave home, I made peace with the fact that it was an important change for me. I was to gain an education, learn to be independent and start my journey. Keeping all these things in mind, I went with the flow and let the waters take me where they may. I’ll admit, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows but then, change never is. We just need to accept it, the good and bad included. Now, this was an example of a change we all look forward to. I know that someday I’ll move from being a student to a working individual. I might re-locate in the course of a job. And after a few decades of service, I’ll retire. These are all changes that we can anticipate and often prepare for. And once you make those transitions, you simply be at peace with the happenings and let the waters flow as they may.
But what about those unprecedented changes we can’t see coming? A pandemic, maybe?
How is the world supposed to cope with everything that has happened? I won’t go on to list all the things that aren’t the same, but we all have some idea of what these are. These were the changes we never saw coming. But now they’re here. I can’t fly home for the summer. And it’s inconvenient and downright unfair. I have half a mind to rant and rage against everything that isn’t what it used to be. Some might even advocate to bring life back to what used to be “normal”. Somewhere in my heart, though, I know that this might be the new normal. The change has happened and our minds want us to fight the flow because it’s all new un-chartered territory.
Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.
I think it’s time we stopped resisting and waiting for things to go back to normal. I’m tired of being angry at a virus. This is what it is. Just go with the flow.
Have you ever thought of the grand scheme of things? Everything that is happening around us. The expanding universe, collapsing stars, natural disasters, epidemics, population surge, dying rainforests and so much more. There is so much that goes on around us all the time. So much input into our lives. So much that affects us. So much that we must respond to. So much that we live with.
So what difference do we make? Amidst all that’s happening, what can you or I do to make a difference? So much actually. Humans have so much potential to make a difference. Right from discovering fire to inventing the wheel. From predicting the weather to predicting how the universe expands. There’s actually people planning on how to move Earth’s populous to Mars someday. As humans, we have the capacity to do great things.
But there are things that matter more than these far reaching feats of humanity. Things much simpler and within the reach of every person.
Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
And that’s how you and I can make a difference. It’s the little acts. Pick up a piece of trash. Donate some clothes. Hold the door open for someone. Thank your server. Tell your loved ones what they mean to you. Be there for them.
Not all of us will be recognized by history as people who changed the world. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have the capacity to do so. We can do so much by doing so little. In my travels and experiences, I have been fortunate in meeting so many people. I have met some of my heroes. I have acquainted with fellow travellers. I have experienced different cultures. And in all my experiences, I remember the little things so well. The power of a small kind act is such that it can stay in someone’s memory for a long time. And perhaps, inspire them to carry it on.
In my mind, I know that I am not destined to be a great, well-known individual. In my heart, I am satisfied that I don’t need to be one to leave my mark on the world. It’s the little things.