William Goldman, author of the Princess Bride wrote in his book that “True love is the best thing in the world, except for cough drops.” That book I read in high school and the beloved movie (in which he ALSO wrote the screenplay 31 years ago) is all about true love. It never dies and you should never give up on it according to Wesley and Buttercup, “Not even death can stop true love—it can only delay for awhile…!”
So corny! I ask myself: “What kind of syrupy love are they even talking about?” For a moment, I withdraw into the recesses of my mind to usher forth my definitions of love—to challenge this notion. One I constantly go back to is this one:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away…So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13).
Hmmm perhaps these notions are not so dissimilar…
Whatever love is, it is an extremely abundant, overwhelming thing, and sustaining it in and of our own human strength seems pretty impossible. You can see this in relationships. You can see this in how we “love” people, things and what we do.
Whatever love is, it is not simply a feeling because feelings come and go. Modified by the weather, how busy we are or reactive to what someone says or does or doesn’t. THIS kind of love is active. It is alive and driven by decision, by choice. It’s more than a feeling *turns on song by Boston*
I’m thinking about love these days—not just because it’s February, but I’m at an odd place in many ways. Passionate and driven, I believe feelings and emotion are VERY powerful motivators. I love my calling to make an impact as a physician-scientist one day. But some days, it is just really hard. I’m learning that my motivation when it’s based on how I feel is not sustainable—even for something I like so much. SICKLE CELL RESEARCH IS THE BOMB. I know this.
I’m at this place in my research where I can see my constructed finish line–but not very clearly. I’m in Boston until August and have made decent progress on my project, but it’s just really hard right now to stay motivated. Especially when the standard now is: what can I put together for a paper? When does this narrative end? This entire prospect can be so overwhelming that it is hard to get out of bed sometimes—for a project I do know I care deeply about (note: knowing and feeling are not the same). No one cares more about my project than me, but I don’t have a squad of people motivating me to push it forward. It’s just me. Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt paralyzed about the amount of work left for you to accomplish/not quite sure how to go about it! It can be crippling, right?
After the highs of last year with ASH and all those meetings, it was a slower start to 2018, and I just feel like I’m beginning to find my rhythm again. I also am reminding myself that it was ME who decided to take two years away from medical school. I decided to love this, and I can keep on loving what I do. It’s really up to me. And honestly, by the grace of God, I’m encountering some joy that is giving fuel to the love I know I do have.
PERSONAL STATEMENTS. I’ve been applying for some summer funding, and it’s been a wonderful way to reflect on my journey until now. Here is an excerpt:
When people ask me what it is like to have siblings with sickle cell anemia and to also pursue medicine, I oftenrespond that I am compelled, inspired and excited to be the best hematologist possible. My introduction to sickle cell disease (SCD) was not academic—SCD appeared to me as a personal and seemingly mystical force. A force that can transform outwardly healthy-appearing and joyful people into those overwhelmed with pain and illness—a shadow of who they truly are and can become. Those who manage sickle cell patients understand this image entirely and have words to articulate what may be happening with their patients. As a young child, I lacked that vocabulary and sought to find the words to describe what I saw and the ability to
Sickle cell disease, like many other ailments, is the enemy of potential and wholeness. Over the years it has garnered some attention, but in my opinion, not enough as our exposure to it’s basic pathophysiology over the past century is inappropriately disproportionate to the number of therapies and cures generated and available for patients. As a future physician-scientist and leader in sickle cell disease, my goal is to investigate ways in which we can make SCD cures safer and more accessible for patients. Currently, my interest lies with the use of patient-derived stem cells for cell therapies.
Who is this passionate woman? Can I find her again?
WRITING A TEXTBOOK CHAPTER. Since the early fall, I have been working on a textbook chapter about sickle cell care in the intensive care unit with some other physicians at Boston Children’s and Dana Farber. This re-integration into clinical thinking was more than just a “thing to do” for me. It was a labor of love. I’ve had family members in the ICU for many of the problems I wrote about in my chapter. This was an opportunity for me to tangibly contribute to better care for people I love. It was also a wonderful way for me to once again consider why I do what I do from another perspective. It’s not just about publishing and the glory therein. It’s about making a difference. It felt so good to finish that chapter this month.
TIME WITH FRIENDS. Black Panther was everything. Read more about it my sister’s blog post. Seeing it with friends was a beautiful way to find renewed love for myself and people of the African Diaspora.
OPERA. If you know me or have read any of my blog posts, you KNOW I love the opera. I joked with my older sister once that to me, OPERA IS LOVE. And, this year I have been sharing this experience with the people I really care about. For my sister’s birthday, we saw Turandot, my favorite opera at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. For my friend Hana’s birthday, I took her to the Met for her first opera there. We saw Madama Butterfly, a tragic story about a Geisha romanced by an American man. He marries her, leaves her for three years and goes back to America. ROUGH. But the music? SUPERB. PUCCINI. #getontheboat #dontgetleft
My parents celebrated their 34th anniversary this January, and I am treating them this weekend to I Puritani at the Lyric Opera. It’s also their first opera together, and I’m so excited for them to experience it. Their marriage is a testament to true love in spite of true hardship. It always overcomes.
Another song on my mind these days has been, You Give Good Love by Whitney Houston. Even when I may not *feel* for my work or for others in the moment. I have to remember— you have to remember that you can always give it.