Of all the things I learned from medical school, my best lesson was from M. She taught me something that was more valuable to me than all those lectures and attending rounds and didactics and whatever. I learned from M that it's one thing to meet the standards expected of you; but you've done nothing unless you've met the standards you expect from yourself.
It's not okay to do just enough. It's not okay to skate by. You must be the best that you can, because any less and you'll know in your heart that you came up short. It's why I end up doing a lot of things that I used to make fun of M about. I saw one of my patients this afternoon. I didn't have to. The nurse even looked at me funny. Why was I even there?
I was telling a friend of mine that I'd endeared myself to some of the nurses because I'd given away so many pens and goodies that I got from drug reps. He seemed intrigued by the idea, till I told him that I gave away the good pens, the metal ones. In the medical student world, nothing's better than those metal shaft drug pens. I have given nearly all of them away. He stopped listening to me at that point. He wasn't going to give away the metal ones.
I was dumbfounded. I paid nothing for it, and I could make someone's afternoon by just giving that person a pen. Think about that for a second. We live in a world where I can give someone a pen and make their day. What a simple gesture. There's a wonderful quote by Emerson: it is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
I was leaving a conference, and the lunch had been picked over. K had come late and hadn't gotten a chance to eat anything. I had saved my sandwich for later, and I gave it to him. He thanked me profusely. Y'know, that's life right there. That's what life is all about. You share what you have. There's a passage in the Bible that I've always liked, Matthew 25:40. "Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, that you do unto me."
In my life, I've always done what I felt was right, not because I had to or because I thought it'd be good for me in the end. I've always tried to do what's right because it was the right thing to do. You know, life is full of uncertainty and doubt, but if you follow your heart, you'll never go astray, because the heart will never be wrong. I do what's right because I have the sincere belief that the only way to make this world a better place is to make it a better place, one day at a time.
So I lead my life the best way I can. I always act with the best intentions. I always try to be the best person I can be. Because while other people are content to sit on the sidelines and criticize the world, I want people to know that life is what you make of it, and that you can only reap what you've sown.