Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Studying, Taking and Building

I just finished a 20 year career of listening to people talk at me. On Friday, I anticlimactically drew 63 filled-in ovals with a #2 pencil on a green and white piece of paper. If I put them in the right places, then it means that the $15,000 I paid in tuition this quarter, worked (actually, it was the government who paid, and the government who will make darn sure I pay it back). I have 2 short years left of working in the hospital, and then people will have to call me “doctor” and I get to write “MD” after my name (which will work out to more than $100,000 per letter).

How do I feel? Well, if you know me long enough, you’ll know that I don’t feel very much of anything emotionally. But if I feel anything, it is relief. Saturday night, I drove south from Stanford with all of my earthly possessions packed into my Toyota Prius with not a care in the world; the super moon rose over the desert landscape somewhere near Bakersfield (and I caught it!). I was on no schedule (and firmly intend to keep it that way for at least a week).

I enjoy classrooms, but I really enjoy doing things. And now I am one step closer to doing stuff. It’s rather exciting. But in the back of my mind, there a voice nags me, “Why weren’t you content in the classroom? Have you no patience?”

I told someone once that I wasn’t a patient person. In the Biblical sense (translated longsuffering), I think patience is a virtue I possess to some degree. I can endure unpleasant things (like years of stasis in classrooms). But I am not ‘patient’ as it may be used in common speech: I am not content with inaction; I am not content with stasis. Perhaps it is by my arrogance that I can look at the privilege of studying as stasis. But thus it is in my mind.

I am in my element when I am building, be it an idea, a machine or an organization. Up to now, building has been relegated to the periphery by my ‘real job’ in the classroom. And this has always frustrated me. It felt like, for the past two decades, I have done nothing but take. I’ve piled up for myself more and more knowledge, swelling my head to the point of bursting (as some of you have noticed on this blog). I understand that it may be necessary; but now, if I am to be a person who gives, I must break a lifelong career and habit of taking.

But I hope I can break it. I hope that as my life progresses, I will be able to give more. I hope that I can give in the way that I love: through building.


  1. Beautiful post. 1000 congratulations to you and your amazing accomplishments! :)