Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dearest Liv,

Above my desk hangs a cork board that boasts a few of my favorite things:

1. Two business cards. One from a German art buyer who I befriended in Nicaragua, another from a prominent medical coroner who (I met while shadowing a cardiologist) represents San Diego county. They were equally welcoming and inviting; the German art buyer, Roswitha, invited me to spend Oktoberfest with her in her Berlin home, and Othon, the medical examiner, invited me to watch one of his autopsies "whenever I'd like". I have yet to do either, but I plan to both.

2. A napkin from a bar in Nicaragua. On one side is Diane's contact information. She lives in Leon where she helps run a nonprofit organization that provides aid for Nicaraguan farmers suffering renal insufficiency. On the back side, is Oscar's email- a self-proclaimed famous poet who I also met in Nicaragua and who gave me, along with his email, a signed copy of his published book of poems (which, as a matter of fact, is excellent!) On the front cover, he also wrote me a page long personal note in endearingly poor english.

3. A photo of Roberto, Annella (Elyse's niece), Milla, and I at GasWorks park, overlooking Lake Union and downtown Seattle. Happy times when the whole gang was together and in the place I love most.

4. Two torn pages from the notebook where I feverishly scribbled ways I could improve my graduate school application... as transcribed directly from the prophecy of the Dean at my top choice medical school.

5. A polaroid photo of Marah and me in a limousine as we make a champagne toast in celebration of her birthday. Moments before this photo was snapped, we were standing outside our hotel in Portland, feeling defeated in our failed attempts to hail a cab. After what seemed like ages (but was likely only 5 minutes), a stretch limousine approached and we giggled about how "finally our chariot had arrived". To our surprise, the driver hopped out, opened the door for his customer to exist, then turned to us with a perky smile and asked where we were trying to go. What followed was free champagne and a 45 minute scenic detour through the Oregon wine country en route to our final destination.

6. My ID and building access cards to the fantastic institute where I work doing autoimmune disease research.

7. A small, dried "bouquet" of purple and gold flowers (thoughtfully chosen Husky colors), given to me by a tall, strong, and handsome young man (with science degrees from Stanford and Cambridge, and a World Championship rowing title to boot) on our first date. He ought not be confused with the one-armed-man previously discussed.

8. Last but not least, a printed email response from one of my most insightful voices of reason. Ted is a longtime family friend who I have called my uncle from as far back as I can remember. Though there are a variety of colorful and complimentary adjectives I could use to describe such a fantastic human creation, I would best credit his character by simply sharing with you the letter he sent me several years ago... response to an expressed fear that my "life" might fall "victim" to my own academic pursuits, these words below now comprise the essence of my daily prayer...

Dearest Liv,

It is one thing to stay "focused on the academic path" and quite another for it to be integrated in who and what you are - it is not an external process! (that is to say, only you would know).

That having been said it is extremely satisfying and gratifying to consider oneself an adjunct to the great body of human knowledge - when all other things fall away, life is the study of one's own mind. As the pre-eminent psychologist of our times, the two things are, for you, the same. One does not distract oneself from "life" by becoming more educated - one instead equips oneself to understand it more keenly, to experience it more thoroughly and, by god, to defeat stupid people in stupid arguments.

For you, I think, to become less thoughtful, less brilliant, less inward would be a step in the wrong terms of "Academics" and "Life experience" you need not weigh one against the other; you are both, and should proceed forward as if you and they were one, which indeed they are.


1 comment:

The Schumanator said...

Well, I for one am glad that you clarified that the man who won the World Championship Rowing Title is NOT the aforementioned "One arm man".

Also, the story in point #5 sounds like sooo much fun!