Time passes ceaselessly. A year will pass regardless of what you do or do not start today. But the tiniest seed today may become a monolithic redwood in time.
Two years ago, I was in a rather tortured place. Living at home on a pullout couch, no job, cutoff from the society of my peers I had grown accustomed to in college. My ex of six years and I had split and I was continually bombarded by the criticism of my family, barely disguised as “advice.”
Then I had a fateful lunch one day with an old family friend. My father had died when I was in high school and this man was one of his close friends all my life. Originally I had planned to ask him about the potential for finding work through Tibet House, a charitable organization dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan culture. However, something else entirely came of our meeting.
Over lunch in Grand Central terminal, he explained to me why he thought I should be a doctor. More than that, he felt I was meant for it.
The first thing I said was, "I’ll have to go back to school. It will take a long time."
He looked at me with a saucy smile and replied, "I’m sorry, are you busy?"
I was a writer. Two years later and now I’m as versed in the chemical structure of molecules as I am in grammar. The physics of the fundamental forces composing reality, the applications behind calculus, and use of statistical methods all factor into my daily considerations of this or that.
It doesn’t matter who you think you are or what you think you are good at or what you think you aren’t good at. What matters is whether or not you plant the seed, nurture it, and help it to grow into whatever it is going to become.
I’m halfway through my 2-year premedical program and then I’ll be off to medical school, assuming one wants me. When I started, I had no idea if this would fit me. I also had no idea how much the thing I considered myself to be would change as a result of this new direction. I regret none of it.
Motivation is important but not because progress is important. The significance of motivation lies not only in the willingness to plant a new seed today but also in the commitment to nurture it every day. Inevitably that seed to which you initially gave shelter and support will become a great tree which will in turn give you shelter and support.
That’s one cool teacher you got, if you ask me.