Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Enter Title Here

Or maybe not. Trust me, if I had a title, I’d enter it. Tonight I don’t. Back tomorrow, right now, sleep.

No worries, ER just required all of my energy.

Oy.

Transported To Another Reality

I’m one of those people who is super impressionable when it comes to art. I mean, if it speaks to me, it’s as if I completely immerse myself in it to the point where it becomes my reality, it begins to re-define the parameters of what seem’s possible. It used to be such a disappointment when other people didn’t feel the same way, but I let that go a long time ago.

What happens is this: I see or hear something that resonates with me, and it’s like a rush of information suddenly hitting me on many more levels than I can consciously process – so I just submit to the experience and let it wash over and through me, like diving into the ocean. I don’t know what’s happening, I’m just entranced and overwhelmed by this new and novel experience.

Another thing I have noticed with these experiences is that there are layers to it, and it’s only after multiple viewings that these layers peel away and expose what’s going on in the deeper levels. I’ve often thought that great art always has a “high line” and a “low line.” What I mean is that there will be a superficial level that can be recognized and enjoyed by the most casual (i.e. dumbest)  viewer, and then there are these deeper things going on for those who care to look closer.

I want to make a distinction here – my definition of art is simply something that was created purely as a form of self expression. Whether or not commerce has anything to do with it is irrelevant. So a multi-million dollar movie and miniature tapestries woven on socks in prison are, at least to me, playing on the same level (don’t forget the movie was based on a story written by somebody who was expressing something). For their ability to transport me to another reality, Yo Yo Ma and a homeless guy playing a self made instrument are both on an even plane. True story: I am a musician who spent decades playing and studying music, and I’ll never forget standing in a freezing, empty Boston subway station one night decades ago. There was what appeared to be a homeless guy who had made an instrument out of a broom handle, string and a metal bucket. The bucket was upside down with the string threaded through a hole in the bottom and attached to the far end end of the broom handle. So it was kind of a primitive acoustic bass – the tighter he made the string by moving the broom handle, the higher the pitch when he plucked it. Because it was an empty subway station, the acoustics were incredible – just this long, natural reverb. Now mind you, he wasn’t doing this for me – I just happened upon him. I remember standing there, waiting for the train, just stunned.

This guy was a virtuoso – playing these beautiful melodies and and walking bass lines. Pitch and time was fucking perfect, tone to die for. At some point the train came and I picked my jaw up off the floor and got on.

But not before the sound and everything I experienced at the scene were burned into my brain. Forever. He truly changed my concept of what was possible. My reality about the world I lived in changed just a little bit after that.

Art is transformative. It just makes life better.

How Do You Explain…

I’ve often thought about the mystery of the child prodigy – how do we explain this phenomenon? Mozart wrote his first symphony when he was eight years old. How is this possible?

One possible explanation requires a significant leap of faith – the idea of reincarnation might serve as a purely speculative theory. But what if you’re not ready to accept something that is impossible to prove as a real hypothesis? What else might explain it?

What about the idea that specific knowledge might be encoded in our DNA and passed down to the following generations through our genes? It’s certainly a novel concept, one that begets yet another question…

How specific might the information be that is passed on through the genetic pathway? Is it just a proclivity, or full blown knowledge related to a field of study?

Just letting my mind wander here folks. It’s a fun way to amuse yourself…

Here’s A Thought

Take some fucking pride in what you do.

Whatever you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability.

Do it because that’s who you are, not for someone else’s approval.

When you do something well, feel good about yourself.

You earned it.

Teamwork

Here’s a word that gets thrown around a lot – so much so that it’s easy to lose sight of just how powerful a group of motivated people can be.

There’s some kind of weird synergistic energy thing that happens when multiple people share the same goal. And make no mistake – things can get messy, confrontational and downright uncomfortable. But I would argue this is not something to be afraid of and avoid, and it’s not a sign of dysfunction – on the contrary; it’s a sign that the people involved are passionate and engaged.

All that really matters is that at the end of the day shit gets done.

And every time the group goes through this sometimes painful process, an unexpected thing happens.

The team gets stronger.

Just To See If You Can

Sometimes this thought alone is enough fuel to motivate me to try something. I start thinking “Hmm – I wonder if I could do that?” It’s always been part of my natural personality, but I’ve recently noticed something interesting. In the past I would look at these challenges as a personal thing that really meant nothing to anyone but myself. But I’ve discovered that if the thing you are trying to do might benefit others, it can really take on a power of its own and truly become a “win win” situation.

It can be kind of weird though, because to a third party it might look like “Oh, what an altruistic person, devoting his own time for the benefit of others.” When in reality it was just your own desire to test yourself and see if you could do something.

It’s like you get a double bang for your buck – the personal thrill of pushing yourself to see what you can do, and then the satisfaction (if you can pull it off) of helping others!

“You Have To Become More and More Like Yourself”

Hmmm… What exactly does this mean? I would postulate that this as the ultimate goal of living – to find out who you truly are, and realize that potential to its fullest.

As an added bonus – the more fully realized and authentic you are, the more charismatic and attractive you become to others, which brings all sorts of other advantages as well.

Life is more fun when people like you.

Oh My…

Strokes and stemis.

Pneumos and chest tubes.

Overdoses and intubations.

Charge.

Done for the day.

That’s all I’ve got folks. Back tomorrow…

 

Don’t Be So Quick To Judge

It’s oh so easy to look at a situation after the fact, as a third party, and say (with complete moral authority) “How could anyone do that?

Well, here’s some news that you undoubtedly already know, and would have taken into account had you stopped to think before rushing to judgment: the world isn’t black or white. Not only is it all gray, it’s a very complex and multifactorial shade of gray. Often there is no definitive “right” answer or solution to a problem, there is only the best available option.

This discussion can get pretty uncomfortable in the real world. A good example is triaging in a mass casualty event (something I have never done BTW). I have been trained to do it, but thankfully have not (yet) been put in that situation. One of the ethical decisions the person triaging must make is to use their training and experience to decide who has the best chance of surviving and who doesn’t. What this means is that this person must assess the nature of the woundeds trauma, and decide whether or not it would be a wise use of available resources to attempt to save them. Remember: You must use whatever resources you have for those with the best chance of surviving. Someone has to make these decisions for the greater good.

How easy would it be to second guess these decisions after the fact?

How difficult would it be to make these decisions in the heat of the moment?

So don’t be so quick to pass judgment – you don’t know what decision you might have made if you were put in that situation…

Buying Time

Everything I do to maximize my health, and trust me, I at least try to do a lot, is, at the end of the day just an attempt to buy time. The one thing that’s running out.

I guess the big question here is: Time to do what?

It’s OK To Be Wrong

The real key is recognizing when you are wrong and being comfortable admitting it. Because here’s the thing: Being wrong is an opportunity to learn something. Or, to put it another way – you can’t learn without being wrong, because wrong implies you don’t know what you’re doing, which turns out to be the perfect state for learning!

The problem is some people interpret their lack of knowledge as a sign they are dumb, which isn’t the case at all. There’s a difference between not knowing something and being dumb. In fact, I would argue that not being able to admit you are wrong is a better indicator of personal deficiency than a lack of knowledge.

Not knowing is a great place to be – because it means you are primed to learn. It’s how we grow as human beings. So if anyone makes fun of you because you don’t know something, don’t ever be embarrassed, be grateful. They showed you something about their character (insecure because they probably lack some quality they see in you), and they have provided you with an opportunity to learn something you didn’t know.

Take that opportunity and remember not to be an asshole to other people – help them instead. Trust me, life will be a lot more rewarding…

Living In The Land of What Is

Important concepts to be aware of:

The land of what should be is a fools game.

Try to interpret the reality around you and act accordingly.

Understand the parameters of the game you are playing and work from there (this one can take a while).

Try to accept what’s beyond your control – it will keep you from fighting battles you can’t win.

If the ship has sailed, you’re not going to bring it back to port. Save your energy to fight a battle you might win.

Too Much Information

I’m really starting to think that humans aren’t equipped to disseminate the amount of information (good and bad) that we are bombarded with constantly. Case in point: I just had a casual acquaintance come up to me and ask me if I was aware that the moon was “an artificial satellite.” “Pardon me?” I replied…

This was not a stupid person (I’m making a very general observation here). Well dressed, gainfully employed, not under the influence. Yet he believes the moon was “put there” by a third party. Where did he get his information? From the internet of course.

WTF is happening to us? It’s as if we have collectively lost our minds. Were we always this ridiculous, ignorant, suspicious and fearful? Or has the constant stream of information into our brains made us even more so?

Are we each living in a parallel universe, with our own unique reality? Do we in fact now live in an age where we get to choose our reality and make up our own facts to go along with it?

The really weird thing is, if you try to bring science or facts into the dialogue, they only become more convinced of their beliefs (their’s our old friend confirmation bias saying hello). It’s almost enough to begin making you question your own reality…

How To Think

I’m reading this book about research and public health and I keep coming across the phenomenon of confirmation bias (the author uses the term “selection bias”) as an obstacle to conducting and interpreting research. From scientists no less!

It’s the same old problem – a researcher forms a hypothesis, and then proceeds to cherry pick data and slant the research to confirm their original idea. The very definition of bad science.

So I’ve been brewing on this, and it occurs to me that perhaps all of us should try to adopt a new way of thinking.

What if we started from the assumption that everything we know is simply the best information we currently have, and that it should be updated as soon as better data reveals itself?

In other words, assume everything we know is wrong until proven otherwise.

If we constantly train our brains to think like this, maybe we will more easily recognize our own confirmation bias – a quality that makes us appear small minded and frankly, not that bright.

Maximizing What You’ve Got

There are things in life we wish we had, and then there are the things we have. The things we wish we had may someday become attainable, or they may not. The things we have, however, are ours right now. By maximizing them, we are taking reality and trying to make the best of it. The problem is, we often don’t place enough value on the things we have, and we place too much value on what is out of reach. What we need here is a little attitude adjustment

First of all, stop for a moment and just be grateful for what you have right now. Seriously – at the very least, if you are reading this, you’re alive. That’s a pretty big thing – You’re not dead yet! See, this is what I mean by reality based thinking – I’m not trying to be morbid, quite the contrary. The reality is that someday we will no longer be alive, and we won’t have the luxury of making decisions and setting goals, or even of just enjoying the simple act of being. Realizing this reinforces the idea of gratitude – you may think you’ve got nothing to be grateful for, but you’re alive – so you would be very, very wrong.

But back to this maximizing thing. All I really mean is don’t try to be something you are not, rather take the things that are uniquely you and make the most of them.

Don’t de-value something because it comes easily to you – it may be very difficult if not impossible for someone else. So if you have something you are good at, develop it.

Maximize what you’ve got.

Your gifts are right in front of you.

Time and Energy

These are finite resources. It’s really important to internalize this concept, because you can go through life for a long, long time before the penny drops on this one. I’ve always over estimated what I could do with a given set of resources within a specific amount of time, and as I have gotten older I recognize this more clearly. For the purpose of this post I don’t want to get bogged down in the pros and cons of operating like this, but I do want to focus on the idea of making some very conscious decisions as to how best you might spend the time and energy you have (left). I put “left” in parenthesis because although this is a critical point at all times of life, it becomes even more important as you get older. Time and energy will, at some point, run out.

So what exactly am I saying here? I guess I’m saying make sure you are allowing yourself time to do the things you really want to do, and try and prevent time wasted on projects or relationships that just aren’t that important. Ask yourself “If I had a year left to live, how important is (insert activity, person or thing here) to me? Is there something in particular I would like to do or (at least attempt to) accomplish before I die?

I’m not saying everything needs to be carefully weighed and planned – one should always be open to the opportunities life presents us with, and we should always have the flexibility and spontaneity to change what we are doing based on those opportunities.

But always be aware of the little black holes in your life that are sucking your time and energy into them with little or no reward. You must ruthlessly cut them out like a cancer

The Only Thing Worse…

…Than being sick is being sick in a blizzard. Now when I say “sick” in this context, I’m talking about sick as in viral illness, the kind of thing that is the bread and butter of any ER. Yes, even with constant exposure we are still susceptible. Our immune systems are probably stronger than most, but there’s still a limit… I do, however, want to make the distinction here that I’m not talking about sick as in cancer. No trouble like that around here folks, and I’d like to keep it that way!

There’s a kind of perverse pride in going to work in the ER in severe weather, somebody has to be there to take care of the sick and dying. You have to be tough to do this job, and somehow it just feels satisfying to get there in a snowstorm. But you also have to be realistic; you’re not doing anyone any favors by going in sick, not being able to perform, and infecting your coworkers and patients.

So here I am in NY, an area that had a significant “weather event” in the last 24 hours which also unfortunately coordinated with me getting sick. So there’s that.

I have the kind of personality that feels an overwhelming need to fulfill obligations and meet my responsibilities. But I’m not superman. Time to rest and heal, I’ll be back soon enough…

Sick

Fucking bullshit. Goddamn motherfucking bullshit.

Back online tomorrow.

That is all.