Her profession’s her religion, her sin is lifelessness

Blood Donation Camp, Yelagiri

>> A republish of a 2012 post, still seems apt after five years! Moving on to Medium, hopefully get to write more here! <<

“Arre yaar, MBBS/MD mein select ho gaya, ab no movies/fun/books/guitars/astronomy/swimming/cricket/shooting/ (pick one or more)

How many times have we heard this statement, likely thought up by the conspiracy theorists, and inserted into the brain of every medical student, who ‘ll grow up trying to discourage others from taking up medicine (not internal medicine, the medical field per Se ). Or, it has been thought up by aliens who don’t want you to have fun while in medicine, so that Earth can be taken over easily with all the people being the same shade of grey. Look around you, (or in the mirror), isn’t there evidence of at least 3 to 8 things which the subject (or the mirror image) has been forced to give up their hobby/amusement/ distraction/whim/obsession/ passion….you get the idea. How often, has passion taken a backseat in the face of ambition? It IS justified in a few situations, as being good at what you do is one of the primary traits that identify you. But it has slowly crept upon us like a toxic, slow growing vine, that threatens to cut off supply to your left brain someday. (Pretty specific vine, will only block the left MCA).

Well, is it really the end of it all? So once you hit the books is it the end of all the other things that keep you interested? (Hah, trick question, so medical books are uninteresting eh?!) Let’s look at this through results obtained from a cross sectional observational study of people with their work/ ambition/ career/ passion/and interests at discordant levels. It is surprising, and educative, to see some people dragged down by the burden of their work, and some doing the same work with panache. While enjoying it and following their dreams, no less. So what do we have to learn from this? Is is possible to prevent ourselves from being the drab, grey, monochrome, uniform worker ants that our boards seem bent on making us, or is there a way NOT to be sucked into the vortex? Let’s look at a few findings, with pertinent not so serious observations by some people from the past. Do ambition and passion have to be mutually exclusive?

( Title: Her profession’s her religion, her sin is lifelessness. — Bob Dylan, Desolation Row)

5. Its’s not the end: The first step to solving any problem is accepting that it exists. OR, accepting that is has just been fictitiously created to be a shackle around your legs by people who would rather live the dangerous life, in a dark well, like a frog, like a damp squib (get it?). To make you feel that you can only do so much, and if you have to be good at your work, you’ve got to be as smooth as Mr Bean in every other aspect. If you read books, played the piano, guitar, drums, wrote stuff, went hiking, played football, there is no reason at all for you to give up one or more of these things just because your life is going to be busy. There is enough and more time for all of that to fit in, even in the busiest of places. Just that, when you have to actively follow your passions (an oxymoron, following your passions does not take effort) in the middle of so much going on around you, it drains your energy like crazy. Don’t throw away that guitar or those running shoes yet, there is a time and place waiting for them. On the contrary, these things will actually rejuvenate you. Just try plucking that old guitar/ reading that favourite book, singing that favourite song after ten hours on the ward (even if you don’t play like Jimmy Page or sing like Adele), and see how good that feels!

(He hands you a nickel, he hands you a dime. He asks you with a grin, if you’re having a good time. — Bob Dylan,Maggies Farm)

4. The Phenomenon of Matching: Well, this part may not be entirely under our control, but we all do what we can to make sure it is. The less discordant the scales for passion and work, the less shear stress you feel in the form of life pulling you in three different directions. So if you want to be a cardiac surgeon, nephrologist, perfusionist or an F1 driver, and end up being one, it IS a blessing. To do what you’re passionate about for a living is indeed one of the biggest bonuses life will throw at you. In this case, as is well known, it does not take too much of an effort to follow your ambition (your ambition and passion essentially being the same in this case). Even if we don’t end up exactly where we want or end up doing what we did not plan, moving the sliders for ambition and passion as close to each other is the key here. As one old comic said, if you want happiness for a day, go on a picnic, if you want happiness for an year, get married, if you want happiness for a lifetime, learn to love what you do! And indeed, things become rosy once you are in love with your work, because it no longer is groan inducing ‘work’, but a part of the long list of your passions, which you love to follow.

(Every so called meeting with his so called superior is a humiliating kick in the crotch. — The Police, Synchronicity


3. Multitask: This is again a forte of the few, but an enviable quality nonetheless. We all know the proverbial classmate/ colleague who goes to run early morning, goes to work smiling, comes back, cooks, hangs out, and still finishes all there is to be done. I guess this comes from a realization of the above two points, that some people are able to do so much more! By personal experience, it is hard to keep up all the time, but is not as hard as it sounds. For some reason, we, through our school at least, have had the one track process hammered into our heads , right from childhood. Exams? No TV. Exams? No Novels. Exams? No friends. Board Exams? No video games. Get the pattern? It is well demonstrated that an average person would rather sleep on a book in library, and reassure himself internally that he has studied, than go out and do things which he wants to do. It is well demonstrated in observational analyses, with the sample size being the deluded zombies from one month before any exam. Can’t study, but sleeping in the library, or doodling, or turning pages mindlessly, or looking in various directions with slow saccades, sure, THAT will surely help. Who knew, stuff diffuses into your brain by osmosis!

PS: (I’m actually writing this two days before my exam, hope THAT goes well!)

2. Things Change as you grow Old: Yes, they do, but they damn well do for the better! Think back, those plans for making a band, travelling to Antarctica, playing in the EPL, singing with Celine Dion, dancing with Michael Jackson, seeing the villages Enid Blyton was always talking about. Hah, wake up sire, its time to write a report, change those files, meet this person, do this, clean that, hit the wall here, ignore sleep and write that report. And be on time tomorrow. Yes, the ideas we had in the past may sound silly now, but many of them are not (playing in the EPL, finding where Batman lives). It is only that you are in a better position to follow them now. Can you imagine writing a letter to your school principal, asking for leave “urgent piece of work, Celine Dion has a concert next week, and needs to sing a duet). But now, you can do what you want, and inspite of the feeling of the aforementioned shackle slowly squeezing the life out, you are paradoxically in greater control now. No one can stop you from buying the electric guitar you always wanted (even if you don’t play like Jimmy Page, I stress), or that trip to the English country side to see where Mr Goon actually lived, and so on! Growing up ain’t so bad, eh

(After a while you can work on points for style, like a club tie and the firm handshake. — Pink Floyd, Dogs)

  1. You don’t have to give up anything !!!: With great power comes great responsibility, and with that responsibility comes the invariable metaphoric bleach, that will scrub the hell out of you, colors and all, and turn you into a uniform grey that matches the seriousness of the world. Oooh, so scary. This makes it all the more important, to not be that brick in the wall (though to be a brick in Pink Floyd’s wall is another matter), which is as drab and monotonous as any other. Sure, it gets the job done, and is exactly what the ‘procedure manual” and the ‘standard operating protocol” said, but there is no contraindication to be the brick that does more! (SOPs are important in specific usages actually) As deduced from purely observational studies, (and some experimental!), this is not in the realm of sci fi. Following your passions is as important, if not more than following your ambition. Look at the doctors hundred years ago, each had a unique style. Corrigan had a secret door in his clinic, Hippocrates had that awesome beard and the philosophy thing, Haldane wrote children’s books, (and wrote a poem mocking his own cancer)…and the list goes on. Now, our boards are trying to churn out factory perfect, identical, lifeless, colorless machines which just follow protocols. Follow the protocols, but do it with style, while playing soccer, or singing, or reading or writing something that is not 8 on the VAS for pain…It takes a little more effort than usual, but after even 15 days of doing so, the gains are apparent, in terms of better happiness and satisfaction, with the groans induced by mention of “work” going down significantly! (p<0.01) After all, we ain’t just bricks in the wall!!

Think of it as an “experimental” first post , read more at justthinkif.wordpress.com. More here soon!