These are what fuel me.

  • I had started in this career, in part, to pursue death: to grasp it, uncloak it, and see it eye-to-eye, unblinking. Neurosurgery attracted me as much for its intertwining of brain and consciousness as for its intertwining of life and death. I had thought that a life spent in the space between the two would grant me not merely a stage for compassionate action but an elevation of my own being: getting as far away from petty materialism, from self-important trivia, getting right there, to the heart of the matter, to truly life-and-death decisions and struggles … surely a kind of transcendence would be found there?

But in residency, something else was gradually unfolding. In the midst of this endless barrage of head injuries, I began to suspect that being so close to the fiery light of such moments only blinded me to their nature, like trying to learn astronomy by staring directly at the sun. I was not yet with patients in their pivotal moments, I was merely at those pivotal moments. I observed a lot of suffering; worse, I became inured to it. Drowning, even in blood, one adapts, learns to float, to swim, even to enjoy life, bonding with the nurses, doctors, and others who are clinging to the same raft, caught in the same tide.

  • This is my vow: To love the sick, each and all of them, more than if my own body were at stake. – Paracelsus
  • In this heart-breaking moment I want to be Hoopes and I want to be Kelly. I want to be able to say to suffering and perishing people, “I tried everything in the world. . . . I was trying so hard.” And I want to be able to say to those around me when I die, “It’s all right. To live is Christ, to die is gain.”- John Piper from Don’t Waste Your Life (pg. 124-125 paperback 2003)
  • “You’ll find,” he remarked gently, “that the only thing you can do easily is be wrong, and that’s hardly worth the effort.” – The Mathemagician from The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Faced with an optional question in an examination paper, one considers whether one can do it or not: faced with a compulsory question, one must do the best one can. You may get some marks for a very imperfect answer: you will certainly get none for leaving the question alone. Not only in examinations but in war, in mountain climbing, in learning to skate, or swim, or ride a bicycle, even in fastening a stiff collar with cold fingers, people quite often do what seemed impossible before they did it. It is wonderful what you can do when you have to. – C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity
  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Philo
  • In our world, too, a stable once had something in it that was bigger than our whole world. – C.S. Lewis from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle
  • Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. – Eugene V. Debs from his Statement to the Court, Upon Being Convicted of Violating the Sedition Act
  • Such progress we have made! In the Middle Ages, they would have burned me as a witch, but now they are content to burn my book. – Sigmund Freud regarding the burning of his book by the Nazis
  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Paul the Apostle from Galatians 2:20
  • Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words. – Francis of Assisi
  • Conduct your life like an orchestra and keep it in tune. – Rev Run from Run’s House
  • Think before you do. – Dad from advice from my childhood
  • There is no bad luck… just trials traveling in packs. When it rains it pours, but after it pours it stops. – Matthew Thiessen from his blog
  • The abbé sunk upon Edmond’s bed, while Edmond himself remained standing, lost in a train of deep meditation. Flight had never once occurred to him.–There are, indeed, some things which appear so morally impossible that the mind does not dwell on them for an instant. To undermine the ground for fifty feet–to devote three years to a labour which, if successful, would conduct you to a precipice overhanging the sea–to plunge into the waves at a height of fifty or sixty feet, at the risk of being dashed to pieces against the rocks, should you have been fortunate enough to have escaped the balls from the sentinel’s musket; and even, supposing all these perils past, then to have to swim for your life a distance of at least three miles ere you could reach the shore–were difficulties so startling and formidable that Dantés had never even dreamed of such a scheme, but resigned himself to his fate. But the sight of an old man clinging to life with so desperate a courage, gave a fresh turn to his ideas, and inspired him with new courage and energy. An instance was before him of one less adroit, as well as weaker and older, having devised a plan which nothing but an unfortunate mistake in geometrical calculation could have rendered abortive. This same individual, with almost incredible patience and perseverance, had contrived to provide himself with tools requisite for so unparalleled an attempt. If, then, one man had already conquered the seeming impossibility, why should not he, Dantés, also try to regain his liberty? Faria had made his way through fifty feet of the prison, Dantés resolved to penetrate through double that distance. Faria, at the age of fifty, had devoted three years to the task; he, who was but half as old, would sacrifice six. Faria, a churchman and philosopher, had not shrunk from risking his life by trying to swim a distance of three miles to reach the isles of Daume, Rattonneau, or Lemaire; should a hardy sailor, and experienced diver, like himself, shrink from a similar task; should he, who had so often for mere amusement’s sake plunged to the bottom of the sea to fetch up the bright coral-branch, hesitate to swim a distance of three miles? He could do it in an hour, and how many times had he for pure pastime continued in the water for more than twice as long! At once Dantés resolved to follow the brave example of his energetic companion, and to remember that what has once been done may be done again. – Alexandre Dumas from The Count of Monte Cristo
  • And others just read of / others only read of the love that I love. – Jason Mraz from You and I Both
  • The only weapon that will effectively win the war against disease, hunger, injustice and poverty in Asia is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To look into the sad eyes of a hungry child or see the wasted life of a drug addict is to see only the evidence of Satan’s hold on this world. All bad things, whether in Asia or America, are his handiwork. He is the ultimate enemy of mankind, and he will do everything in his considerable power to kill and destroy human beings. Fighting this powerful enemy with physical weapons is like fighting an armored tank with stones. – K. P. Yohannan from Revolution in World Missions
  • You only get nervous if you don’t know what you’re doing. I knew what I was doing. – Paraphrased from Top Ten Clutch QBs Video (Link) by Johnny Unitas regarding the first NFL overtime victory
  • Not everyone appreciates the attractions of surgery. When you are a medical student in the operating room for the first time, and you see the surgeon press the scalpel to someone’s body and open it like fruit, you either shudder in horror or gape in awe. I gaped. It was not just the blood and guts that enthralled me. It was the idea that a mere person would have the confidence to wield that scalpel in the first place. There is a saying about surgeons, meant as a reproof: “Sometimes wrong; never in doubt.” But this seemed to me their strength. – Atul Gawande from Complications A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science
  • Who wants mortality? Everybody wants immortality. You want what you create to live, be it sculpting, painting, music composition. Michelangelo said, ‘I know the creator will go, but his work survives’. That is why to escape death I attempt to bind my soul to my work. I give my all to my work because I want it to just live and just give all that I have. – Michael Jackson from interview with Ebony Magazine
  • What one wishes is to be touched by truth and to be able to interpret that truth so that one may use what one is feeling and experiencing, be it despair or joy, in a way that will add meaning to one’s life and will hopefully touch others as well.
    This is art in it’s highest form. Those moments of enlightenment are what I continue to live for. – Michael Jackson from Moonwalk
  • There were thousands of people who gave their lives to God for the Chinese people, for the sake of the Gospel. And–most of them–I recognized some names like Hudson Taylor, Robert Morrison–but most of the names, they never made it to the history books. And that really convinced me… some of the most important workers for the Kingdom in the 21st century, I believe, are the Nameless People. They make Christ visible–not themselves. – Patrick Fung at Urbana 2009

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