Can a scientist and an artist coexist in the same body?
That’s a question that has plagued both me and my guidance counsellors from the beginning of my conscious life, through the awkward teen years of high school, when I was trying to decide on a career, till now. Life and career seemingly safely tucked away in my back pocket, I still wonder if somehow, I have followed the right half of me.
I have always had the curiosity deep down of a bonafide natural philosopher. I am always questioning what is, why it is, is there an alternative, how it works, why it works, how it works. Everything. You’d be hard pressed to find something that I just accept at face value without somehow coming up with a long list of questions in my mind. I also have the quiet introspection that both enables me to churn out hypotheses (most of them pretty dumb, by the way) in their numbers in a valiant attempt to answer these questions, design modalities to test these hypotheses as much as possible, as well as appreciate beauty, words, art, ideas, and life as a whole- essentially my artistic soul.
Medicine has its roots buried in the core natural sciences, but its practice is essentially an art. So, perhaps, I have chosen wisely. Words also, since I began to tinker with them at 5 years old and a few odd months, have never ceased to amaze and fascinate me. Their ability to create, recreate, build up, break down, mould, incinerate, refine, heal, inflame and encompass everything around them is parallel to nothing else in the known universe. So, perhaps in choosing to work with words, I have chosen wisely too.
What is the way forward for me?
I honestly cannot think of this without some degree of anxiety. I know that I would like to quickly go through my postgraduate training and specialize. I haven’t even effectively decided on which specialty yet.
Internal medicine, for all its intellectual tasking, appears all gloomy and depressing- bandying around big words and expensive tests that do very little to help the patient, who is anyways well on his way to almost certain death from the mostly chronic ailments.
Surgery, is quick and straight to the point. Results are almost always instantaneous, when you get it right. But it is a demanding mistress- countless hours of training and honing skills, impossible schedules, too little sleep, the perfect recipe for eventual madness. Besides, I will need more practice than the mean, as I am better faster and more confident with my mind than with my hands.
Obstetrics and Gynecolgy. Well, imagine living in a constant pool of lochia, liquor, blood and other bodily discharges and getting no sleep. Because the Gynecology component will keep you up during the day and the Obstetric component will keep you up at night. For some reason, labor occurs preferentially at night, precisely when you have just closed your eyes and are just about to hit that sweet spot with the sleep groove.
Pediatrics, I am still trying to figure out if it is something that appeals to me beyond my sentimental desire to work with children. Will I have the patience to deal with poop and snot or fussy, cranky kids and worn out parents? I don’t know.
This is only one half of my dilemma though. Do I remain and continue my training here at home in a broken system designed to help no one? Is it selfish to cut my losses and run? How much more do I have in me to contend with the powers that be and attempt to change the system for the better? How much longer before the frustration finally catches up with me? I have long given up on the dream of being Physician extraordinaire- some superhuman genius with the ability to fix people with the push of a metaphorical button. I just want to make a difference for the people that come in contact with me.
I would eventually like to hang up my stethoscope and pick up my pen more or less full time, sometime in the future. That is, in between growing and grooming some entrepreneurial projects that have caught my eye and my heart. How do I manage to do all these? The wonder, the uncertainty of life… Not mentioning the anxiety of not knowing.
Am I in a relationship or not?
I am not Benjamin Burton, so I am not growing younger. I want to settle down and build a family. How much of that desire is due to societal and family expectations and how much is due to a genuine desire to share my life, hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations with someone? I am a little embarrassed to admit that it is due more to the former than the latter. I have been told it grows on you, so if I am still eventually going to wholeheartedly want to do that, why wait till much later when I can potentially start up now and save myself some time. Instead of battling with kids and their upkeep in my nether years, when I’d prefer to occupy myself with other less worrisome things.
Right now, I am navigating a relationship that seems to be lost at sea. While I am somewhat convinced that I love her, I don’t know if I love her enough, or if loving her is enough. It breaks me off in splinters that we cannot talk to each other heart to heart. Conversation, or what poorly attempts to substitute for it, is very little beyond small talk. Even looking back at when it was rosier, it still was me, pushing, cajoling and making effort to get her to engage. I want to be supportive through the difficult times she says she is having, which I do not still know details about, despite probing repeatedly. But it is increasingly difficult to hide my displeasure at our disconnectedness. It is even harder to talk about it, without coming off as a recalcitrant complainer, seeing as I have repeatedly pointed it out before now. I do not understand it when she says she’s pleased to have heard my voice, even though we haven’t talked about anything.
I’m pleased to hear your voice as well, but what would please me even more would be to hear something other than your voice. To hear you speak. To hear your heart. To hear your mind. I realize that it has become difficult to trust anyone with yourself, but sometimes, you have to step out of the shadows of your doubts to feel the warmth of the sun on your upturned face. I haven’t asked you to plunge into the pool yet. Dip in your feet and feel the warm currents around your ankles. Perhaps then, if you will, you can take a step further and little by little let the water grow on you.