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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hope and aspiration

Evening ensemble
Evening ensemble, from
From Jeff Nunokawa's note today:
"One thing essays have always been about (not all of them of course, but enough of them to notice and call part of the tradition) is everyday life: things that come with everyday life (the death of a moth; the rise of the sun). Well, there’s something about everyday writing, especially the kind that aims to help keep you company while you start everyday that reminds me of the morning as it’s been handed down to me. It’s a little repetitive (to say the least, as my mother would say), but also a little hopeful. It’s some weird combination of routine and experiment: writing everyday, starting everyday. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: the faith of our mothers and our fathers you can also find in the everyday writing I’m trying to do here. That faith inheres in a hopeful feeling that goes along with and a little beyond the less than hopeful feeling that you have when you first wake up and realize you have to to get up and do the same damn thing you did yesterday and the day before. It’s the faith that believes that there’s something on the other side of our everyday trying and it’s not all dark."

And a poem my classmates and I discussed today in our Narrative Medicine session:

Henrietta Cordelia Ray, 1848 - 1916

We climb the slopes of life with throbbing heart,
And eager pulse, like children toward a star.
Sweet siren music cometh from afar,
To lure us on meanwhile. Responsive start
The nightingales to richer song than Art
Can ever teach. No passing shadows mar
Awhile the dewy skies; no inner jar
Of conflict bids us with our quest to part.
We see adown the distance, rainbow-arched,
What melting aisles of liquid light and bloom!
We hasten, tremulous, with lips all parched,
And eyes wide-stretched, nor dream of coming gloom.
Enough that something held almost divine
Within us ever stirs. Can we repine?

Tomorrow, I'll have my evaluation on history-taking and the physical exam ('H&P' History & Physical, in med-speak). I'll share songs written for patients and evaluate the impact of those songs. I'll write a final patient case write-up on chest pain. Next week, I'll take the Shelf Exam in Ambulatory Medicine and give a presentation on the songwriting project. Lots to study, learn, write, present! But in the spirit of Jeff's note and Henrietta Ray's poem, I shall climb the slopes of life with throbbing heart / and eager pulse, like children toward a star.

It’s the faith that believes that there’s something on the other side of our everyday trying and it’s not all dark. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

In New York you can be a new man

Hamilton proudly stands today in my favorite outdoor reading-writing spot!
(near Butler Library, Columbia University)
This is too good not to share: Hamilton at the White House! You've got to check out these video performances:
Alexander Hamilton
My Shot

When I watch these, or listen to the soundtrack on Spotify, I'm filled again with the belief that music matters because it instills us with collective feeling and belief--to take pride in the democracy we have and its true values, to remember that we are a country rooted in immigrants, spirits in opposition to the wave of exceptionalism or superiority or divisions of otherness,

to stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us.
~2016 State of the Union Address