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Monthly Archives: December 2008

This was the absolute last project I completed in high school. It was for AP Language and Composition. Throughout that last semester I wrote a lot about faith and religion. In retrospect, I feel terrible for two reasons: 1) Generally, when I write anything regarding faith and/or religion, my ideas are too scattered. I find myself with the idea in the back of my head that I want to justify Christianity. Often that is what deters me and scatters my thoughts. 2) My teacher was a “soft” atheist. That is, she was an atheist “by default”. She said she wanted to believe, but she was skeptical. I feel bad that I forced her to reading my papers on faith and religion.

This presentation was probably the best one I ever completed in that class. I think it captured the essence of what I wanted to convey to my teacher through my writing. Here is my presentation in full — with some deleted images

Welcome to the Christ Life

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I wrote this entry while listening to a piano sonata. I was geeky enough to pretend I was playing the piano in the sonata as I typed to it — lots of fun. I wanted to give this preface because most of the content in the entry is speculative. It’s speculative because I didn’t have the time to stop and think about my ideas; I was “playing the piano”, remember? Also, I wanted to use this “read more” break, and see how it turned out on facebook.

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I haven’t showered, I’m listening to Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major Movement No. 1, and I haven’t done anything productive prior to 12 hours ago. This Friday I’ll go and see if the sheet music for the Haydn is in stock. If it isn’t, I’ll have to order online.

Production has been at a consistent nill ever since the semester let out. I even think I’ve begun to put on the fat — most noticeably in my face. That can’t be good; I’ve deduced it is because I have the worst sleeping and diet pattern. Usually, I have been eating only TWO meals daily, and I sleep regularly from 3 AM until 11 AM.

Last night was different in regard to when I went to sleep (which was around 4 AM). I had inflicted a self-induced knockout around 9 PM, but then woke up with a full bladder around 1 AM. I proceeded to relieve my precious bladder (of which I could, with much detail, describe the biological process of urination, thanks to biology 001), and then hopped on the laptop. For the life of me, I can’t recall how I started researching what I’m about to exposit on.

If my life is a goal keeper, and my life-to-be is a soccer ball, the soccer ball has bended en route to the net. It’s another curve ball. Prior to now, I hadn’t had the largest inclination to conduct research. Now, however, I’ve gathered an incredible zeal for research with anything pertaining to the human mind. Neuroscience, neurobiology, biopsychology, neurobiological behaviour — I want to eat it!

The human mind has been a topic of intrigue for me. The genesis of this interest, from what I can remember, was birthed in a PBS documentary titled, “The Question of God”. It pitted Sigmund Freud against C.S. Lewis in an engaging discourse on their approach to God.

This is getting beyond the point. Let me keep it simple: I’ve discovered a hidden interest of mine, and I want to pursue it. However, I am having trouble reconciling this new passion with my old passion of practicing clincial medicine. ((I don’t mean old in the sense that it is discarded, but old in the sense that it came before.)) Very rarely, if ever, are there individuals who significantly practice in both medical disciplines. On more of a planning note, I am considering pursuing an MD/PhD degree — from Yale, of course. This statement carries a lot of weight. Should I pursue such a degree, I will be adding more years onto the normal 8+ years of schooling for MD hopefuls. Additionally, I will be putting myself into a position where I will essentially be researching for 3+ years. If I end up discovering that I loathe research, those three years could be some of the worst years I will ever experience.

I am jumping a little ahead of myself, though. I haven’t even conducted any laboratory research yet! Although the content of the research is enormously appealing, I’m skeptical as to whether that will yield a passion for research. I’m sure there is a strong correlation between passion for a subject, and the passion to discover/learn about it through research methods, but I will discover that once I step into a lab.

As of now, it’s definitely an appealing course of action, but I still have next semester. I’ll be taking General Psychology, and then perhaps applying to conduct some research in psychology. There is also the equally enticing opportunity of working in the biological department’s labs. I can say, though, that I am unequivocally excited to conduct research — something I have never been overly excited in doing for the last 18 years.

My first semester of university education at Marquette University ended around 8:30 AM on December’s second Thursday, the 11th, in the year 2008. In pursuit of a career in medicine, I know it is of crucial importance that I maintain exceptional grades. Beginning college, I set out the goal of obtaining a 4.0 GPA. Just one semester into my higher education, that goal has been botched.

But I’m not losing sight of it. I’m going to continue to work as if I can obtain a 4.0; that’s how I can extract the best from me. That’s what starting quarterbacks in the NFL do. Donovan McNabb, after being benched during a game in favor of a 2nd year player, said this about his status for starting the next week: “I definitely hope so. But that’s not up to me. I will prepare as if I am going to be the starter and do what I can to help the team.” Donovan, even though his initial goal to start was tarnished, didn’t let some blemishes set him back. He kept preparing and working as if his goal was still achievable. That’s how you maintain excellence. That’s how you extract perfection.

I haven’t been perfect — in any sense, even a modified sense! — this semester. It’s quite humbling to be receiving a B in chemistry, and coming to terms with exams that average around 80 percent. ((I felt I was so prepared for chemistry too! A year of AP Chemistry along with a year or organic and a year of general chemistry, I thought that would have been sufficient to prepare me for the chemistry I faced in college. I think a part of my shortcoming was my conceitedness; I saw preparing for chemistry as something “extra” I could do. What a shame.)) For the most part, though, I think I did fine my first semester in college. Although not exclusively academically speaking, the past months have been an exceedingly positive experience.

For a first semester, a basis if you will, I think my jettison towards medical school has an adequate foundation. With the grades I’ve received, my just-recent self analysis, and a better understanding on how I learn and study, I think I can increase my efficiency next semester ten-fold.

One of the best teachers I’ve ever had was in 7th grade science class. His name was Mr. Charpentier, and even at the ripe age of whatever age a 7th grader is, I could comprehend the wisdom that spewed from his mouth. He was a very inspirational man, and emitted radiance in his work. Teachers are so important in our society. Having experienced Mr. Charpentier only adds to the hope that I have in all teachers and their molding of our youth.

There is one quote that Mr. Charpentier shared with us that was exceptionally encouraging. I believe it is somewhat along the lines of a cliche, but still possesses timeless truth.

Good, better, best.

Never, never rest.

Until your good is better, and your better is your best.

Mmm. Talk about fuel for your soul.

Coming back from the Intervarsity Fall Conference, one of the things I took back home with me was the practice of praying, and praying with a fervid belief in what you are saying.

I challenge those who are so inclined to pray to analyze their prayers. Do you really believe in what you are saying? Do you believe that what you pray over will come to fruition? When you pray praise, do you mean it with every fibre of your being? When you are asking for help, could you literally fall prostrate and ask for help — is your cry for help that substantial?

I’ve always prayed just to pray and say things, and that’s how I still feel about prayer — even after the conference. I want to pray as if I mean every single word I say. Imagine what a difference that could make — if it does make a difference. Believing in something is one of the hardest things we do on this Earth. ((I first heard this from a movie about Steve Prefontaine, runner extraordinaire. I’m not sure I quite understand it, but it sounds legit and good.)) Prayer is a powerful and divine activity. Belief in prayer is a belief in something powerful and divine.

I often think about my future when it’s late — like 1:00 A.M. late. Usually I put myself in the hot seat of a medical school admissions interview. I imagine them asking me questions like, “Why do you want to become a doctor,” “Can you share with us an example of a time when you were a leader,” “If you become a doctor, what do you want to do with your profession,” and “What would you do if medicine doesn’t work out for you?”

That last question bothers me. For nearly all my life I’ve been passively positive that I want to pursue a career in medicine, and for the past 3-4 years I’ve been aggressively positive. Yet I still query my future: What if medicine doesn’t work out? What would I do then?

The past few days, I think I may have come up with a solution. If medicine doesn’t work out, I’ll pursue a career with my cello. It’s not so much as a dreaded backup plan either. If I didn’t want to become a medical practictioner as bad as I want to, I wouldn’t hesitate a quarter rest to pack my bag (it would only be one bag) and cello and move into New York City. It’s a proverb for me that I work a work that I love, and I love my cello and the music we make. It’s just that I love the art of medicine more.

There’s one thing keeping me from pursuing a career as a cellist. It’s not my “lack of talent”, ((I don’t necessarily believe there is such thing as talent. Some people may be initially more gifted, but the best become the best through practice.)) but rather the line between hobby and profession; how exactly does one determine what is hobby and what is profession? I see my cello as a hobby — not something I could do for a living. Why I view things this way is beyond me. It’s just a gut feeling, and I’m running with it. Trusting our gut feelings is underrated.

Sometimes I wish I could drop everything — 3/4 of my high school preparation and countless late nights — and run away with my cello. What a love story. I love my cello very much, and I love my pursuit of medicine. I’m sure I’ll love medicine. The French say je ne sais quoi when they speak of something that they can’t quite describe. That is exactly how I would define my love for medicine in light of my love for the cello. I don’t know what. But I’m going to keep running with this medicine thing.