What Grey’s Anatomy Taught Me Tonight

During the break, I’ve been catching up on a lot of Grey’s Anatomy and am now three episodes into Season 9.  I haven’t been a huge fan of Mark Sloan up until this point, but what he said in a recent episode made me like his character a lot more.  First, Avery remarked, “It’s why we’re doctors.”  Sloan responded with one of my favorite lines in the entire series: “It’s actually why we’re people.  But somehow we forget that all that matters is people, and whether we walk away leaving them better or worse for having met us.”

In the advent of a new year, I reflect on my tangible achievements and failures, and how to repeat and circumvent, respectively.  I think about the moments when I really had to grow up because there wasn’t another option, and how I became a more courageous person as a result.  All of these experiences have shaped the idiosyncrasies that define who I am.  I am constantly adding to my tool box of life experiences.

We all have a unique calling meant to be discovered and accomplished on our own.  I’ve known my calling to be medicine ever since I knew that there was more to life than playdates and choosing which flavor of milk I wanted in the lunch line.  Medicine provides limitless opportunities to research and quench an insatiable thirst for knowledge.  Medicine demands both rehearsal and innovation.  Medicine can be focused in the precision work of a particular surgery, and also complex in its interdependence with politics and the economy.  Most importantly, however, medicine must always be practiced in a context of empathy for our fellow human beings.

We all have a few selfish reasons for wanting the things that we do.  Yet amidst a lifetime of hard work to reap personal benefit, we mustn’t neglect what should be a universally inspiring truth: to improve the lives of others.  And how can we do this best?  On the surface level, we can hug, smile, kiss, give gifts to, cheer on, play with, talk to, sit with, and do so many other things for the people in our lives.  All of these things are good.  In fact, they are thoughtful and wonderful, and each of us should do more of these things.  Ultimately, the best and hardest way that we can improve the lives of others is to be the best versions of ourselves.  You know how you want the people with whom you spend time to act around you, so hold yourself to the same standard.

Here’s how I hope to fill the many roles I play in people’s lives:

I will be the best daughter you could ever want.  I’ll sit patiently, nod my head, and really listen when you lecture.  I’ll wash the dishes and take out the garbage not because you expect me to but because I want to make things easier on you.  I’ll call home more routinely to tell you about the new things I’ve encountered but also to tell you about the old things I miss.  I’ll respect your opinion on all matters, but I’ll be unafraid to voice when I have a different one because you’ve taught me to be passionate and persistent.

I will be the best girlfriend you’ve ever had.  I’ll give you the warmest greeting every time I see you because it always feels like we’ve been apart for so long.  I’ll be lazy with you on Sunday mornings when all we want to do is sit and do nothing.  I’ll also shake you awake when I know you have to go study at the library.  I’ll bake you cookies and brownies just because, as long as you promise to still eat some even if they are a little burnt.  I’ll ask you about your day, every day, not out of routine but out of curiosity.  I’ll comfort you when you’re sad or upset because my love for you makes your pain my own.  I’ll lend an ear before I speak a word because I’ll always try my hardest to walk in your shoes even though they may not always fit.  I’ll be your diary, where you can store all of your hopes, fears, and thoughts; where you take refuge in a realm devoid of noise and judgment; and where there will always be another blank page.

I will be the best friend you’ve ever had.  I’ll cheer you on when no one else even knew you were competing.  I’ll sit quietly as you tell me about your world because I know that you need someone who’s actually listening.  I’ll understand that every detail is worth sharing.  I’ll look up and say hello when I pass by because too often people don’t step up and initiate contact, and you don’t deserve the smallest mistreatment from anyone.  And I’ll smile when you succeed, because I am inspired by who you are and what you do.

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