Today was my last day on the inpatient ward. It was oddly still and peaceful today, with just a few patients who were nearing the end of their life. Despite the language barrier, we had some very moving moments with two women who were nearing the end of their life. Both young, but weak, insisted on bowing, which is a Kerala way of saying, “thank you”. How selfless could someone be to spend their last waking moments on this Earth giving the gift of thanks? Knowing I’m leaving soon, I’ve been asked countless times what I love most about India, and I replied that everyone is so selfless. I told them that in America we give if we have extra, and usually to our family or loved ones. But in India they give even if they have nothing and they will give to everyone: family, neighbors, friends, and even strangers. I’ve met people who didn’t have running water who would donate their time to cook for their neighbor, caregivers who have no relation to the patient and are doing it out of love, and people who truly believe in spreading wealth than earning it for themselves. I admit that I don’t even know my neighbors names. But that isn’t even a remote possibility here in India.
I want to end today with my top 10 lessons India has taught me:
- You can be a big girl without losing your inner child.
- Life is a gift. Don’t waste your 86,400 seconds a day with petty, jealous thoughts.
- We are all much more alike than different. I forget which president said this but he said, “We are all heirs of this small planet, we all breath the same air, we all cherish our children’s futures, and we are all mortal.”
- Accept that you are enough and only you determine your worth.
- What people think of you is none of your business.
- Smile! You don’t own all the problems of the world.
- Traveling is important. St. Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
- Be present in the moment. If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
- You can give your life to the cause without sacrificing your whole life.
- Elephants aren’t that prevalent in India.
Tomorrow is my last full day in India and my last day of medical school. Life is sweet.