Carry On

It’s been one of those days where you come up at the end of it feeling rather exhausted. I keep getting this picture in my mind of the swirling ocean with water as deep and dark as the night sky traced with clouds of foam, and I’ve just surfaced after a long plunge beneath the waves.

Even as I write this my thoughts are wandering about my head, wondering how the pressures in my lungs would change if I took such a dive, and what impact this would have on the respiratory control centers in my body.  I’m guessing this is a side effect of studying for today’s Human Health and Disease exam on the respiratory system (and antibiotics and neoplasia).  We just finished the exam this morning, and although it was intense, I’m happy to have made it through.

I wish I had something more original or profound to say at the moment, but since I’m pretty tired I’ll instead comment on two quotes which help me to find perspective when I need it most.

The first quote I’ve known for a long time, and it holds a special place in my life. My mom taught it to me years ago and it’s been a part of me ever since:

Mistakes are opportunities to learn.

For example, I’ve been tempted to get tangled up in frustration with myself for not planning my studying better.  (I can now empathize with bacteria a bit more, as I’ve finally found common ground with them. We both underestimated the power of antibiotics.)  The antibiotics are more challenging to learn than I had thought/hoped, and looking back, I should’ve started memorizing the information about them earlier than I did. Lesson learned: make flashcards promptly.

The second quote I just came across yesterday, and it was a great encouragement to me.  These words by Winston Churchill capture the essence of the perspective I need at this stage in my life:

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.

These words remind me that this is a journey, a process. It’s a continuum of sorts, and things change.

In a way, this is the same perspective that the seasons give.  Springtime is not final, for blossoms must mature into fruit that ripens and eventually falls from the tree.  Winter is not fatal, for the tree blooms again.  What counts is that the tree sends its roots down into both the warm, rich soil and the cold, frozen earth, that it stretches its branches heavenward in both the bright sunshine and in the slanting rain.

Trees, I think, could be called courageous.

While I know there are times in life when failure literally can be fatal, I am reminded in moments like these to also step back and see the bigger picture.  And then, with the ocean before me, to find the courage to plunge in once again and swim.