raking leaves on a windy day

Needless to say, it’s not a really smart thing to do. And yet that’s exactly what I did today. I was bored and decided to do yardwork because our unkempt front yard has been haunting me in my sleep (I kid, sort of). It was a nice day. The nicest it’s been in a very long time. So nice that I didn’t even notice the rather healthy breeze that accompanied this nice sunny day. So ambitious me went out there and decided that I wanted to rake the dead leaves off of our lawn before mowing it. Well, I quickly learned that the wind had other plans for me as I sheepishly watched it woosh the raked leaves right back onto the lawn. I hoped no one saw that since leaves were also being scattered onto my neighbors’ yards. I had to control the damage that was already done though, so I piled the leaves that were left and put a box on them to try to make them stay until I could put heavier yard waste on top. Then I set off to mow the lawn thinking I had beat the wind. Not so. It just merely blew my box over and continued dispersing my raked leaves. It was then that I realized it was pointless to try to fight the wind and proceeded to do what I could and leave it at that.

Such is the life of a med student. We study and study, hoping that everything, this vast complicated mass of knowledge, will stick. But short of having a photographic memory, we can’t remember everything. It’s just not possible. It’s as if there’s a wind of forgetfulness that just comes through and blows bits of what we’ve tried to learn away. As effortlessly as the wind blows leaves away. We can try all we want to remember everything. Mnemonics, flash cards, weird stories associating random things with each other…nothing can help us remember everything that we are taught. No matter how hard we try, there’s always something that we can’t remember. We continue this pointless battle until we learn (at some point I hope) that there’s no point fighting this useless war and accept that we can’t possibly remember every little tidbit we come across. Then we focus on the important things…the things that we can remember. Sure, we’ll still try to retrieve those lost bits of information, especially if they happen to show up on an exam, but we know that we can’t know everything even if we wanted and even if we try our hardest. And we just hope that no one notices the gaps in our knowledge or that when the time comes, when we really need it, that it was in fact there somewhere just waiting to be used. Because unlike leaves blown away by the wind, our knowledge is still there somewhere (I hope), just inaccessible. So there’s hope yet even though it seems damn pointless at times.

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The patient is a 20-something-year-old MD/PhD student with a history of extensive schooling now presenting with frustration at her current lack of progress consistent with being stuck in a rut.
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