Friday, April 26, 2013

More than useless

It seems like I write this same post at least once every year. 

It comes upon me suddenly: no triggering event, no life changing moment, no existential crisis…  Out of nowhere, it just hits me that I have not done nearly enough. 

We all have met those people whose list of good deeds is a mile long.  They make you feel that if the world had a few more people like them, then it would be such a better place.  Or, if you’re at all like me, they cause you to criticize yourself. What have I done that matters? 

I have big dreams.  I want to open a clinic in Africa.  I want to treat sick people and make them better, happier and healthier. 

Africa isn’t a requirement.  I have always loved El Salvador.  Then again, everything I have ever read from Paul Farmer gives me a passion for Haiti.  I’ve seen some pretty desolate faces in The Philippines.  I have read about the horrors in the Congo.  There could always be more doctors in India.  

I don’t know where I want to go… but I know I want to go somewhere and make things better. 

Whenever this comes up in conversation, as it tends to (surprisingly often!), people like to point out that I could stay here, in the U.S. and still achieve my dream.  There are certainly people here who could benefit from free healthcare. Wouldn’t I rather do that?

In a word, no. 

My vision is unconventional, I have been told.  It’s not proper and it is certainly not the American dream.  I'm not expecting to find a nice house or early retirement.  One of its many draws is that it would be a challenge.  It would be a step outside of my comfort zone.  It would be an adventure. 

It would also be a sacrifice.  If I were to have kids, would I bring them? Wherever  I end up, I don’t expect the school system to be a high selling point for the area.  That doesn’t seem fair… to deprive my potential children of the same opportunities I was given. 

Whenever I fall in love with a new place, it is usually because I’m reading a horribly sad book or news story about it.  While reading The Fear, (by Peter Godwin) in the middle of a fit of tears, I informed my husband that we were going to someday live in Zimbabwe.  I was crying with disgust for the violence that the world at large has turned its back on.  I was crying with sadness for the people forced to live in such a place simply because they had the bad luck to be born there and the inability to get out.  My husband politely informed me that we would not be going to such a place.  I suppose we will just have to see how that plays out…

Zimbabwe has a special place in my heart because it broke my heart.  It also shattered my apathy.  I want to do something.  I’m not a politician, economist, or foreign correspondent who can enact change on a global level, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I can’t do something.

Except, I feel like I can’t.  Not right now.  Sure, I look forward to living out my dream… someday.  What about now?  How am I making the world a better place right now?   How can I fit that into studying…?

To be honest, I really haven’t.  I wish I felt better about it; that it is okay to be fully focused on school right now, because that’s what I need to do.  Most days, my lengthy to-do list is enough to keep me fully distracted from the things I should be doing.  But, on nights like tonight… I know I would rather be somewhere else, doing something that matters. 

I will someday do good for others and hopefully make the world a better place in some small way… Until then, I guess I’m just waiting and hoping that I’ve cast my lot in the correct path, that will one day allow me to do good enough. Enough good. 

Earlier, I mentioned those people who make you feel like you haven’t really made any impact with your life.  The person who inspired that feeling tonight isn’t that much older than me, but already she has touched the lives of thousands of people through her orphanage. 

She went on a mission trip as a young teenager and fell in love with the country she visited.  She returned multiple times and ultimately moved there to open a children’s home: Amor y Esperanza. (For the Spanish challenged, that’s “Love and Hope”).

Anyways, her story is not mine to tell.  You can find out more about it at this website

What I admire most about that children’s home, was that it was a family more than an institution.  In my two short visits there, it was obvious that every child was loved immensely.  Each one knew that they were special and that they mattered.  Even the staff, the visitors… every one in that place felt loved, welcomed and understood. 

I am afraid that I am not very good at that.

Another one of my eventual goals is to adopt.  (This one, I have no issues with postponing until school is over though!). There are so many children in the world who haven’t felt what it is like to have a solid family who loves them.  What I am afraid of with adoption is that I won’t be good at it… That I won’t be able to make that child feel like they mean the whole world to me, even though they do.  

To be honest, I don’t know if I do a good job of that with anyone in my life.  There are so many people whom I treasure dearly, and I don’t know if I adequately show that.  I make it a point to tell people that I love them… (My husband, family and friends that is, not just random people.) But, do I show them?

A pattern among my blog posts seems to be posing questions for which I don’t have an answer.  Writing this didn’t gain me any ground in that regard, but it did serve as a reminder: this is how I intend to make the world a better place.

I have a broken heart and passion to fix things.  I want to make sick people healthy.  I want to make broken hearts whole.   I so easily get bogged down in the rigors of daily life, depressed with the seemingly endless nature of my chosen path, and distracted by a countless number of things.  When those things darken my outlook, its refreshing to pause and reflect on where I someday hope to be.

For a blog that mentions medical school in the title, I talk about it very little… So for those of you who are wondering, this is why I chose to go to medical school. 

I feel like, I would like 
To be somewhere else doing something that matters 
And I'll admit here, while I sit here 
My mind wastes away and my doubts start to gather  
Whats the purpose? 
It feels worthless 
So unwanted like I've lost all my value 
I can't find it, not in the least bit,  
and I'm just scared, so scared that I'll fail you  

And sometimes I think that I'm not any good at all 
And sometimes I wonder why, why I'm even here at all 
But then you assure me I'm a little more than useless 

And when I think that I can't do this 
You promise me that I'll get through this 
And do something right 
Do something right for once
- Relient  K, "Something That Matters"

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