July 27, 2016

People : When You're Eighty

Literally a few hours after I wrote this post about different sayings and how they can contradict each other and can sometimes overlook the nuances in feeling, I received this book in the mail from my medical school classmate and close friend Caitlin:

It's full of beautiful sentences from people of all ages.  Including sentiments I referenced in my previous post, like "Keep Trying Don't Give Up," and "Try Again and Again and Again."  And similar to what I wrote on Monday, "everything has defined outlines and clear colors"--literally.  Each word is spelled out in big, bold capital letters, the visual display reflecting the clarity of the messages.

But despite my issues with how sometimes black and white these sayings are, they made me happier. Firstly because they came from a friend with a personal message to me, which makes for a different interaction when you're coming across generic sayings on the internet.  But maybe it was also the simple, striking way the sentences are displayed as block letters. Or the bright colors.  I can see how these elements can comfort.  Or the fact that they are spoken by people young, old and in-betweeen, people with varying degrees of innocence and experience--whose words are all placed on the same level, get the same amount of space.

I remember when I first started medical residency, and even now, it felt strange to be giving advice to people when I felt young and inexperienced.  Not just in medicine, but in life experience compared to what our patients face.  This book reminds me that there's room for all types of perspectives, and also that often young and old souls think the same.

It's a good reminder that even though these sayings can't always do justice to the complexity of real life, sometimes it's really important to simplify.  To just trust in an overarching sentiment, even if everything feels mixed-up and conflicted.

So I know that this contradicts everything I endorsed in Monday's post, but I guess in that way it only makes that statement stronger--the sentiment that at times one extreme feels true and at other times the other extreme feels true, and often we're stuck in between.  This back-and-forth pull can be really confusing and destabilizing, but I'm struck by this wide spectrum of what's human and possible.

And, sayings I can live by:

my love for you is fierce // keep climbing // the heart is only gently taped down so it can move

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