1.01 A Hard's Day's Night
The game. They say a person either has what it takes to play, or they don't. My mother was one of the greats. Me, on the other hand... I'm kinda screwed.
I can't think of a single reason why I should be a surgeon, but I can think of a thousand reasons why I should quit. They make it hard on purpose. There are lives in our hands. There comes a moment when it's more than just a game, and you either take that step forward or turn around and walk away. I could quit, but here's the thing. I love the playing field.
1.02 The First Cut Is The Deepest
It's all about lines. The finish line at the end of residency, waiting in line for a chance at the operating table, and then there's the most important line, the line separating you from the people you work with. It doesn't help to get too familiar to make friends. You need boundaries, between you and the rest of the world. Other people are far too messy. It's all about lines... drawing lines in the sand and praying like hell no one crosses them.
At some point, you have to make a decision. Boundaries don't keep other people out, they fence you in. Life is messy, that's how we're made. So you can waste your life drawing lines or you can live your life crossing them. But there are some lines that are way too dangerous to cross. Here's what I know. If you're willing to throw caution to the wind and take a chance, the view from the other side... is spectacular.
1.03 Winning A Battle, Losing The War
We live our lives on the surgical unit. Seven days a week, 14 hours a day, we're together more than we're apart. After a while, the ways of residency becomes the ways of life. Number one: Always keep score. Number two: Do whatever you can to outsmart the other guy. Number three: Don't make friends with the enemy. Oh, yeah, Number four: Everything, everything is a competition. Whoever said winning wasn't everything... Never held a scalpel.
There's another way to survive this competition. A way that no one ever seems to tell you about. One you have to learn for yourself. Number five. It's not about the race at all. There are no winners or losers. Victories are counted by the number of lives saved. And once in a while, if you're smart, the life you save could be your own.
1.04 No Man's Land
Intimacy is a four syllable word for: Here is my heart and soul, please grind into hamburger, and enjoy. It's both desired, and feared. Difficult to live with, and impossible to live without. Intimacy also comes attached to the three R's... relatives, romance, and roommates. There are some things you can't escape. And other things you just don't want to know.
I wish there were a rule book for intimacy. Some kind of guide to tell you when you've crossed the line. It would be nice if you could see it coming, and I don't know how you fit it on a map. You take it where you can get it, and keep it as long as you can. As for rules, maybe there are none. Maybe the rules of intimacy are something we have to define for ourselves.
1.05 Shake Your Groove Thing
Remember when you were a kid and your biggest worry was, like, if you'd get a bike for your birthday or if you'd get to eat cookies for breakfast. Being an adult? Totally overrated. I mean seriously, don't be fooled by all the hot shoes and the great sex and the no parents anywhere telling you what to do. Adulthood is responsibility. Responsibility, it really does suck. Really, really sucks. Adults have to be places and do things and earn a living and pay the rent. And if you're training to be a surgeon, holding a human heart in your hands, hello? Talk about responsibility. Kind of makes bikes and cookies look really, really good, doesn't it? The scariest part about responsibility? When you screw up and let it slip right through your fingers.
Responsibility. It really does suck. Unfortunately, once you get past the age of braces and training bras, responsibility doesn't go away. It can't be avoided. Either someone makes us face it or we suffer the consequences. And still adulthood has it perks. I mean the shoes, the sex, the no parents anywhere telling you what to do. That's, pretty damn good.
1.06 If Tomorrow Never Comes
A couple of hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. 'Never leave that 'til tomorrow,' he said, 'Which you could do today.' This is the man who discovered electricity. You'd think more of us would listen to what he had to say. I don't know why we put things off, but if I had to guess, I'd say it had a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure. Fear of pain. Fear of rejection. Sometimes the fear is just of making a decision, because what if you're wrong. What if you make a mistake you can't undo. Whatever it is we're afraid of, one thing holds true. That by the time the pain of not doing the thing gets worse than the fear of doing it. It can feel like we're carrying around a giant tumor. And you thought I was speaking metaphorically.
The early bird catches the worm; a stitch in time saves nine. He who hesitates is lost. We can't pretend we haven't been told. We've all heard the proverbs, heard the philosophers, heard our grandparents warning us about wasted time, heard the damn poets urging us to ‘seize the day'. Still sometimes we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today's possibility under tomorrow's rug until we can't anymore, until we finally understand for ourselves like Benjamin Franklin meant. That knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping. And that even the biggest failure, even the worst most intractable mistake beats the hell out of never trying.
1.07 The Self Destruct Button
Okay, anyone who says you can sleep when you die, tell them to come talk to me after a few months as an intern. Of course, it's not just the job that keeps us up all night. I mean, if life's so hard already, why do we bring more trouble down on ourselves? What's up with the need to hit the self-destruct button?
Maybe we like the pain. Maybe we're wired that way. Because without it, I don't know. Maybe we just wouldn't feel real. What's that saying, why do I keep hitting myself with a hammer? Because it feels so good when I stop.
1.08 Save Me
You know when you were a little kid and you believed in fairy tales? That fantasy of what your life would be - white dress, prince charming who'd carry you away to a castle on a hill. You'd lie in your bed at night and close your eyes and you had complete and utter faith. Santa clause, the tooth fairy, prince charming - they were so close you could taste them. But eventually you grow up and one day you open your eyes and the fairy tale disappears. Most people turn to the things and people they can trust. But the thing is, it's hard to let go of that fairy tale entirely because almost everyone has that smallest bit of hope and faith that one day they would open their eyes and it would all come true.
But the thing is, it's hard to let go of that fairy tale entirely, because almost everyone has that smallest bit of faith and hope that one day they would open their eyes and it would all come true. At the end of the day, faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don't really expect it. It's like one day you realize that the fairy tale is slightly different than your dream. The castle, well it may not be a castle. And it's not so important that it's happily ever after -- just that it's happy right now. See, once in a while, once in a blue moon, people will surprise you. And once in awhile, people may even take your breath away.
1.09 Who's Zoomin' Who?
Secrets can't hide in science. Medicine has a way of exposing lies. Within the walls of the hospital, the truth is stripped bare. How we keep our secrets outside the hospital - well, that's a little different. One thing is certain, whatever it is we're trying to hide; we're never ready for that moment when the truth gets naked. That's the problem with secrets - like misery, they love company. They pile up and up until they take over everything, until you don't have room for anything else, until you're so full of secrets you feel like you're going to burst.
The thing people forget is how good it can feel when you finally set secrets free. Whether good or bad, at least they're out in the open, like it or not. And once your secrets are out in the open, you don't have to hide behind them anymore. The problem with secrets is even when you think you're in control, you're not.