Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Self Awareness Part 1

I don’t fully come alive until the shit is hitting the fan – the closer I get to “this is so out of control I’m not sure I can hold it together” the happier I am. I love the feeling of not quite knowing whether I can pull something off, that exhilarating and scary state where your mind says “Here we go!” If things are predictable and easy, I just tend to zone out. In the ER, it feels wrong if it’s in any other state than flat out chaos. I actually get weirded out and lethargic.

It’s incredibly thrilling to be skating on the edge of what’s possible, to not be sure you’re capable of whatever it is you’re attempting to do.

It’s in those moments that you are fully alive

New Shooter Coming Out…

Here in America it seems like we pervert everything. A phrase that probably originated in the 19th century announcing a new “player” at the craps table has now evolved to its logical and literal conclusion. Except in this game, the object isn’t to win a game of chance, it’s to kill another person.

Today, here in NYC, we had a “new shooter coming out” who was a fucking doctor, and his field of play was a hospital. Seriously, you can’t make this shit up. And yet, past history has taught us that there will be no real outrage – here in the USA this is our norm. Real outrage would spur change, something this country is in no mood for. Oh sure, there will be the requisite hand wringing and “it’s a sad day” bullshit, but nothing will change – because we don’t care. What other conclusion can you come to? This is a country that was impotent to make any change after a classroom of 7 year olds was murdered. A doctor shooting people in a hospital who then sets himself on fire? Welcome to the grotesque carnival we have let America become.

Stories

As humans, we are hard-wired story junkies. We can’t get enough, we are absolutely compelled to drop everything if someone has a story to tell. Got a kid that won’t focus? Tell them a story and they’ll hang on every word. It’s really weird, as if this obsession with stories is somehow woven into our DNA.

In reality, it probably is. Before we were able to write, the only way for humans to pass knowledge from one generation to the next was orally – essentially by telling stories. So the ones with the skills to do so would be very valuable indeed. And the rest of the tribe would have to pay very close attention to the storyteller in order to absorb the lessons being passed down.

And although we love all kinds of stories, it is the ones that involve humans that fascinate us the most.

Every life is a story in the process of being written. Our lives are a tale where we have some influence over the outcome – but ultimately the ending is a mystery that will reveal itself in due time.

Always Open

ERs never close, and we never turn anyone away. We’re always there to help in whatever way we can. We may not always have the type of help you need or want, but we do our best, whether you can pay for it or not.

We don’t care whether you are a citizen or if you’re here illegally, we don’t care about your skin color, economic status, religious beliefs or lack there of. Your political views are worthless here, and we don’t question your value as a human being.

But if you need medical care (hopefully emergent), we are there for you.

Think about that.

Seriously, really think about that…

Human Relations 101

If you work with someone and they are doing a good job, tell them. Preferably in front of someone else.

Do it a lot and see what happens. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the most powerful. Who knew?  Now you do…

SNAFU or FUBAR?

SNAFU: Situation Normal, All Fucked Up

FUBAR: Fucked Up Beyond All Repair

Hmm… In my experience, I would say that SNAFU, if left unchecked, will inevitably deteriorate into FUBAR. I am, at this moment, experiencing the former and hoping it doesn’t lead to the latter. Unfortunately, experience has also taught me that hope is generally not rewarded, so here we go!

Both of these situations are inextricably affected by Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong). Here’s the thing about life – shit happens, and part of succeeding at whatever it is you are trying to do is being able to be flexible and deal with it.

So take a deep breath, regroup, and try Plan B. If that fails, just keep making up new plans until you succeed. There are no extra points for getting pissed off – calm and focused wins the day (a certain amount of anger is probably unavoidable, just don’t get sidetracked and waste precious energy on it – it’s counterproductive).

I have lots of experience dealing with this, so I’m good at it. I just get deadly calm and go to work

Is This a Test or a TEST?

So I’m taking a mathematics course that’s condensed into a very short span of time. I have zero background in math beyond assorted bits and pieces I’ve picked up over the years. It’s like trying to learn Mandarin in 10 weeks – clearly that’s not going to happen. And yet I’m somehow doing it, which begs the question: Am I being tested on whether I know the material or am I being tested on whether I can figure out how to achieve the desired goal?

They’re each important – ideally one should be able to pass both. But if push comes to shove, the latter is more likely to save your life…

Be Ready for Push Back

Anytime you try to make something better, you must start out understanding that you’re in this for the long game. The bigger the goal and the more people involved, the longer it will take.

You must also realize that there will be push back (and apathy) all along the arduous road you have chosen to go down. Key figures will be there along the way to give encouragement and support, but they’re not going see you across the finish line. Only you can do that.

These are just some of the hard truths that prevent people from committing to implementing change. Because it seems daunting, it’s easier for most people to just go with the flow.

The thing is, it’s really not that hard. You just need to understand you’re in for a long fight – once you get that it’s not so discouraging. But even though you might be slugging away at it for a long time without much obvious results, a funny thing will start to happen.

People will begin to see you as a change agent. A formidable person to be respected.

Because you are unfazed by push back and apathy.

You are on a mission.

Giving Back

I like to start my day reminding myself how grateful I am to be alive – I want to always be aware that this day is a gift, and when it’s gone it’s never coming back. I don’t take anything for granted.

And then I think about how I can give back – to try and give of myself in some way that will make someone else’s life better. It’s just an attitude adjustment, a way to recalibrate my thinking to what is important.

Angry and Anxious

We all feel this way sometimes. But we have to find a way to deal with it. We have to figure the source of our stress out and find a solution. This is part of being human. This is what we do, at least the more successful and adaptive of us.

And find a way we do. Because there is always a way…

Lessons In Aging Part 2

There is one VERY significant benefit to aging that may seem deceptively subtle, but it is a game changer. At some point, you stop trying to be whoever you think you want to be, and you become comfortable with who you are. Now you can authentically engage with the world. Understanding what you don’t know makes you wiser. Your weaknesses now become strengths

Lessons In Aging Part 1

Ever wonder what it will feel like to get old? Well, here’s an observation from someone who is 60. You never feel old. The mirror tells you otherwise, but your sense of self never changes.

The thing is – the real you is there from birth until death. It may be hidden by fear and confusion, but who you really are is a constant. The vessel ages but the core remains the same.

It’s beautiful and scary at the same time.

ER Report Part 1

NYPD to charge nurse (me) – “Anyone here recently who lost a lot of blood and is missing a body part?”

Charge nurse – “Let me see… sorry, there’s no one here that fits that description. Could you be more specific about the missing body part?”

NYPD – “We’re not sure, we got a call about an incident in the subway. Thanks for your help.”

Quote of the Day Part 2

“The trick to being truly creative, I’ve always maintained, is to be completely unselfconscious. To resist the urge to self-censor. To not-give-a-shit what anybody thinks. That’s why children are so good at it. And why people with Volkswagens, and mortgages, Personal Equity Plans and matching Lois Vutton luggage are not.”

Sacrifice

Sometimes you have to make short term sacrifices for a long term goal. In some ways this gets harder to do as you get older, because you’re aware that the future is more tenuous. It may not be there waiting for you when you’re ready – the future may have different plans. This is where it gets tricky… At some point in our lives what’s ahead of us stops being a wide open vista and starts becoming a landscape with a series of hidden cliffs to watch out for.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to make long term goals, it just means we need to think long and hard about whether they are worth it. Are they worth our precious time, a resource we can never get back?

Working towards something and fighting for a goal is part of what makes us a vital and engaged human.

Struggle gives our life meaning. Just make sure it’s meaningful…

Stress

Here’s the thing – I love learning. It’s absolutely intoxicating to learn something useful, to suddenly realize you are grasping a concept that was always there, you just didn’t know it.

So I must love school, right? Well, yes and no

There are two problems with school, and they are related. Problem number one is you can’t just learn what interests you, or what you think might be useful. You have to learn lots of things that might not be useful to you at all, they just happen to be part of the curriculum. This takes time – a precious commodity you can’t get back.

Problem number two is that this learning is time sensitive. There will be a test given on a predetermined date, so you must learn and (hopefully understand) the required information by that time. All non-essential life activities will be on hold while you struggle to absorb what you need to know (which may or may not be useful to you).

Problems one and two are less of an issue if you are a child and don’t have to earn a living and manage a life. But they become very big issues in adulthood. I’m currently finishing up an undergraduate degree that is long overdue. Really stressed out and wondering (once again) how I’m going to fit everything in.

I survived cancer with a healthy awareness that this ride has a limited shelf life. I have a life to live and things I’d like to do. After I finish this motherfucking degree.

Gaslighting

I was familiar with this term, but never really thought about it much beyond it’s association with the 1944 film of the same name. I understood this very broad interpretation of it as a phenomenon where “someone is trying to make you think you are insane,” which doesn’t really acknowledge it’s many more subtle manifestations. I just listened to an interview with writer Ariel Leve, who has a book out about her experience growing up in traumatic and destabilizing environment as a child. She made a couple of statements that were really kind of revelatory for me – I had never thought about these concepts in quite this way.

Initially she was talking about gaslighting as a tool of manipulation in relationships, on a micro (one to one) level of human interaction. But then she made a couple of statements that stopped me dead in my tracks, because of their obvious implications on a macro/national scale. She said:

Anytime someone denies reality, it is a form of gaslighting – they are denying your experience.” Followed by (I’m paraphrasing here) the statement, “It is a tool used by narcissists as a means of control.” Holy fuck – I’m making a conscious decision in this blog not to be political, but the ramifications of this statement are shockingly clear. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…

She went on to make another point in the interview that I thought was profoundly important. She was talking about PTSD, and how we recover from trauma. Step one is obviously to seek professional help – this is paramount. This is not a process you can do on your own. But I found her final step to healing, the one that cements one’s growth as permanent, the one that literally rewires the brain and gives back to others at the same time, to be crucial.

Express your experience through creativity – make something out of your pain

For Every Action There Is A Reaction

Call it karma, reckoning, or fate – Newton’s Third Law of Physics applies to more than the physical world. There is a price to pay for everything we do. We would do well to remember this in our day to day lives.

For every action there is a reaction…