Archives for: September 2005
Been working on a sort of 'unification software' that allows me to input bio-impedance results, polymorphic data, clinical impressions and biometrics into a 'heuristic' database model, then pull out relevant analytic data. I'm mostly working in VB.Net, which is a lot like VBA programming in Access, and which you may remember from previous blogs, I hate. However it is the only way to go (other than writing for straight old DOS, which would not be without its charm) since VB.Net gives you all the nice-nice Windows accouterments like buttons and pull-down menus.
Haven't trained all that much the last week as I had the flu last week. Probably a sign that I needed to cut back on my work schedule, since I have been burning the candle on both ends these last few weeks getting ready for the conference, maintaining a heavy patient load in the clinic, doing all this programming, while also training and trying to act like a husband and father around the house. Feel much better now and unfortunately have that burst of energy that often accompanies one's returning health fortunes.
Sadly, a bright shining soul from the old days on this website is slipping away rapidly from end-stage breast cancer. I've never actually met her face to face, but we corresponded often, and I so enjoyed her witty emails. You don't practice medicine for twenty-three years and not get somewhat inured to the whole death thing, but still, some circumstances are more difficult than others.
Many, many years ago I remember my grandmother saying that 'The world is a cruel place, and there is no justice.' At the time, all I could think was 'Gee, what a downer, to see the world in only those negative terms.'
Yet there is a reality in that harsh assessment. The world can be cruel. There is not a lot of justice.
Not in this Nature, not in this Solar System.
But we humans are one of the few species capable of altruism. We sometimes practice compassion, we can often empathize. As time went on, I began to really think about my grandmother's assessment of the world, and started to get the point. It wasn't the cruelty and injustice that was the focus; they will always be part of our existence. It was the challenge of working on myself to acknowledge and be thankful for the times when someone 'did the right thing' or extended a kindness to me.
If this was true, then bad things did have a purpose.
There is cruelty and injustice in the world because most of us are simply not evolved enough to learn by pleasure; we must learn by pain. Think of the abundance of material goods in the Western world. By this token we should the most appreciative population in human history. But instead our abundance just begets our further acquisitiveness, and as the Buddhists believe, desire is the root of all suffering.
The impersonal and unjust nature of suffering harkens us back to the acknowledgment of reality and its random and ephemeral nature. Further, when calamity befalls one who otherwise would be among the least deserving, the lesson is reinforced by its own pathos.
I often tell patients with a recent diagnosis of cancer that one element in their life almost always changes for the better; their prior level of assumption.
I've often used this example:
Imagine you are driving in you nice late model car, along a modern interstate. The air conditioner is on, keeping the interior a crisp 68 degrees. The stereo is playing your favorite music in surround-sound. You are zooming along at 65 mile per hour, the suspension air-cushioning any potholes and bumps. The windows provide views of rolling countryside gently moving along.
In the midst of all this control, there are assumptions and expectations. The car will continue to move. You will enjoy the next song. The temperature will stay the same. These assumptions leave time for other things, like arguing about whom does the most work around the house, or threatening the kids with punishment unless they stop bickering.
Then it happens.
The car's timing belt snaps. Now the engine dies. You steer the car over to the side of the road. The landscape that previously passed so effortlessly in front of you is now frozen solid. Now you feel the humidity, hear the bugs. The guardrail that you would never have noticed before now looks like a pretty good place to sit down. Now you have to depend on your spouse to figure out a way out of this mess and you know that first and foremost you are going to have to find a way to protect your kids.
If we understand this, we then understand that it is not just â€˜sad' when 'bad things happen to nice people.' It is critically important for our growth, and that is why it persists.
'There Was A Savior'
There was a saviour
Rarer than radium,
Commoner than water, crueler than truth;
Children kept from the sun
Assembled at his tongue
To hear the golden note turn in a groove,
Prisoners of wishes locked their eyes
In the jails and studies of his keyless smiles.