Two Poems for champions of my heart

Equality

 

We are all equal,

There is no sequel,

For we have only this one life.

 

Heaven or strife,

This is our choice,

 

So use your voice,

And your heart,

To rise above the dirt.

 

Make use of your mirth,

That heals up the scars and the pain,

 

Let it flow, let it rain,

 

For perhaps solace lies in the “insane”,

Who can feel the beauty of the life that we live,

Giving of ourselves without a seconds thought.

 

 

16-6-16

 

At the moment my world is inundated with study, work and exams.

As I am progressing through the arduous and challenging joruney of completing specialist training in Emergency medicine, most aspects of my life outside medicine have taken a back seat, to dedicate focus to wards the path of learning the matrix of what is is to be a specialist. I am doing what I feel is effective, and and have learned to possibly be helpful, such as reading widely in books, attending practice exams, studying alone and in groups. I have sometimes been sharing the highs and lows with others on the path, but mostly experiencing them alone, in a solitude that will never be known to the world at large (apart from in daring writings such at this).

Today I learned of the exam results being released for the OSCE (objective, skills and clinical examination), and it is with great joy and simultaneous sadnesss that I heard of the success and failure of friend who are dear and near to me in both my heart, but in terms of the journey that all fellowship candidates are on, past and future.

In the joy of one particular friend I breathed a breath of relief, and for others I shared in a gasp of despair. It seems unfair that some individuals who have such a heart, such skill, and such potential for this profession, have not made it through (this time) final gate of a greater than 10 year training. Whilst this exam processess is well intentioned, and designed to empower these very qualities, it can arguabley, on occasions, be seen to perhaps fall short of what it set out to achieve.

As a researcher in education systems, and someone who has been observing their own progression through various stages of a very diverse journey of education in the arts, sciences, surgery, research and now emergency medicine, I am acutely aware that “assement” and “qualification” are but a prediction tools of relative certaintainty, but are simultanously not gold standards in this objective. In my own endeavours to help improve education and assesment systems, I’ve realised that training, sitting exams, and passing are but steps on a much greater journey, in which the destination can perhaps never fully be realised, for it is ever-evolving.

So then how do we evaluate the concepts of failure, or success?

Is it not an imaginary line (albeit, calculated through a process and mechanism), on a continuum of life-long learning?

Perhaps in specialist training, and many other forms of education for that matter, this line forms a both an psychological, and actual barrier to progression. I wonder how well the impact of examinations correlate to the end product of achieving skilled, well rounded individuals?

These may seem like esoteric questions, but to an educational researcher they questions that could potentially form a life’s work.

 

Coping with Success and Failure – through the relationships we make along the way

As a friend who was studying for his own specialist exam in another field, Anaesthetics, once reminded me “failure is an event, not a person” (taken from a line provided by personal development legend Zig Ziglar). This advice came in incredibly handy when I sat, and failed, my own big exam, the fellowship “written” exam. I have now been studying for a whole year since then, whilst working, getting over the loss of esteem, and building an entirley new strategy. If I pass this time around in August, I have the opportunity and privelidge to sit the same exam, the OSCE, that I am celebrating and mourning the results of with my friends, who are at this next stage.

It seems like a very long and uncertain journey, and perhaps this is why the final result will be so very special.

However, in the meantime there is so much pain, and equivalent joy. The joy partly lies in the hope of achieving what I set out to do, partly in feeling the success of others, but perahps the most guaranteed joy of all, is the wonderful relationships that are forged along the way – irrespective of outcome.

When studying for this exam we are in positions of vulnerability and humilty that most would not actively choose to occupy. Some, perhaps, will quickly forget how uncomfortable it feels to not definitely know if one can make it “there”, whilst others will never forget, no matter how well they perform, for it is in their nature to help others on the path.

Two of these such people, who are always there to help others, ironically did not pass the the OSCE this time around (and I’m sure there will be more good candidates to come, who also didn’t pass, for the OSCE has a pass rate often hovers around the 50%, or less, mark).

Perhaps you also know someone like this, someone who is clearly capable and desrving of such a pass? Perhaps it is even you, the reader.

Whatever the case, the following poem wholeheartedly dedicated to all of you, and all of “us”, life-long learners, who courageously endeavour to live, learn and love.

 

Wisdom, compassion and humility

 

Champions of wisdom, compassion and humility,

Using a pathway to divinity,

That has guided us thus far,

 

Whether we drive a sailboat or in a car,

The vehicle is of no consequence,

If we are not guided by light.

 

Use your sight to look within,

And feel the unity of “Humanity”,

As we once knew and later forgot,

 

We only have this shot,

To get it right,

To live without fright,

For there is really no fight,

 

When we use our energies together at large,

Voyaging in natures communal barge,

That can only be experienced as “Love”.

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Failure and Success

Some of the greatest people,

Are the ones, who have faced failure and pushed on anyway,

They seem to look on the bright side and continue to move forward,

Facing their obstacles with barren simplicity.

They can walk with humility and confidence within the same stride,

And this is the kind of success to which I abide,

For perhaps the highest achievements in life,

Come from greatest hardships,

Recognising that either way we win,

For the next step is always available,

But what we do with it,

Is only up to us.

22-8-14

I refuse to accept defeat unless this is for my benefit. Even when I fail, I always try to see it as training for the next attempt, or preparation for the new direction that I am taking. This attitude isn’t always easy, but it is possible.

Tonight I watched an inspiring TED talk that spoke straight to my heart (the amazing story of Sam Berns, a teenager who has lived through the premature aging condition of “progeria”, and talks openly about his philosophy for a happy life – well worth the watch if you can spare 12:45 minutes) –  his story reminded me of a philosophy that has guided me through many difficult times.

 

So many times throughout the journey of PhD I faced failure. The “feeling of failure” seemed to come up repeatedly;- when studies were not approved to be carried out, or when help seemed like it was far away, when journals rejected preliminary submissions, and when I had to complete a thesis that seemed like it was against the odds. However, I made it through all of these things, securing 3 scientific publications in a peer reviewed journals, 1 book chapter, and a completed PhD thesis of 363 pages long. When I submitted my thesis in January this year it was late, requiring more than one extension, but still I delivered the goods.

Recently I heard back from the Australian National University, and that the thesis had been accepted for the degree, pending some minor revisions. It was a powerful moment for me to read their reports that indicated that the thesis was worthy of the degree to which I was submitting it towards, but the ideas contained within were likely to make a difference in the world, particular in rural areas of the developing world. This was already a dream come true.

To make a difference through research was something I kept close to my heart all the time when I was conducting studies and writing up the thesis, which took me through some lonely but also inspiring periods. The gratitude I feel for all the help I’ve received cannot be expressed in words alone (although I tried in this post years ago) – and this is why I created a short film about the experience some years back.

However, now that I am almost there, it is clear to me that I needed to go through all that I went through to arrive here– for I believe the “journey” is what makes the destination worthwhile.

This concept inspires me for the next journey, and I hope it will be as good as the last one. Even if I have to again face failure and overcome obstacles in order to move forward, I accept this wholeheartedly, knowing this what I have chosen to do and will appreciate it accordingly.

Thank you for being there!

For all of you out there, who are walking down towards a vision of success may all your dreams come true  – after all as a wise friend once said to me “perhaps the only failure is the failure to try”

🙂

Ps I don’t think I’m alone in this philosophy, for many others seemed to have had a few obstacles along their inspirational paths.