Pre-Residency Writing

Given that residency begins in a few months and my life will essentially be on hold, I decided that if I do not start writing now I may never get back into it.  There have been so many topics that have come and gone that would generally be blog-worthy but my heart and mind have been reluctant to write because of the generic/cliché thoughts that come to mind.  So quickly I will recap everything I can remember in a few sentences to get them out of the way:

1) Death is a reality for all of us. May Allah have mercy on our sister Rehab.

2) Yay Tunis! Egypt! Go Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen!!

3) Gaddafi is a crazy man and physically looks like a camel.

4) Hopefully these ‘revolutions’ bring about change that is worthwhile.

5) Pakistan continues to be in a sad state and everyone in the world continues to ignore them… though they did play well in the cricket world cup.

6) Peter King is a jerk.

7) That CNN “Unwelcome” piece was depressing. Racism is making a comeback.

8) 18% field goal percentage will never win a national championship.

9) If that tsunami did not humble you, there is nothing in this world that can.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way… I thought I would talk about the movie the Green Mile. The movie is about a prison of death row inmates (called the Green Mile) awaiting their turn for the electric chair.  The movie has some very interesting twists but leaving that aside, the main character, portrayed by Tom Hanks, makes a beautiful reflection at the end of the movie. “We are all on our own Green Mile.”  We are all on death row.

Death is not a mystery, at least concerning its certainty. It will happen. To our grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and children. The world has shown us how feeble life really is. A disease, a tidal wave, an explosion, a car accident, a falling branch or a good old fashion heart attack: It is coming.  And we do not wait for it, it waits for us. Like a brick wall that we cannot run through.  We metaphorically walk upon a path that has a finish line.  A cliff that we all will go over. I speak of this not to be morbid but to make a point.  Ignoring death does not make it go away.  In anything in life, when you know that you have limited time, you rush.  A basketball player who can see he has less than ten seconds on the clock  dribbles down the court quickly, makes a move without hesitation and puts up a shot as soon as he can find an opening.  The same player would take his time if he could see that he had a few quarters before the game was up. It is human nature to stretch or squeeze our activities into the time we have allotted. But with death… we just don’t know when the buzzer goes off.  There is no last second shot because the scoreboard does not have a timer that we can see. You would think that with this understanding we would do everything we could, hustle our butts off, and squeeze every last ounce of effort in assuming that the timer is going to go off any second.  For the most part… we don’t.  We waddle. Hold the ball too long. Take too many breaks.  Stand complacent, as if the scoreboard manager was never going to hit the button to signal game over.

I know this is not a unique understanding or a mind blowing reminder but it just is. I challenge you with an exercise that hundreds of people are faced with every day in doctor offices.  Today, you have been diagnosed with cancer.  Not the curable kind or the manageable kind.  Pick one– Pancreatic, Lung, Gall bladder, Colon, Brain or Skin.  6 months to live… if you are lucky.  You have already told your family, and friends.  You have made the appropriate arrangements in terms of your financials and assets.  You ahve gotten past denial and anger and depression.  Now you have just time. 6 months on the game clock.  You have the ball. What would you do?  Some go into hiding. Some fulfill a “bucket list” of activities they wanted to do before they die. Some pray. I challenge you to sit down for 10 minutes and plan the last 6 months of your life now. And then live it.


~ by Yousaf on April 5, 2011.

One Response to “Pre-Residency Writing”

  1. I have been thinking about death too, but it’s hard to truly internalize this message and act according to our realization.

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