Inspiration in 5 Acts

I spent nearly all of 2014 and 2015, applying, interviewing and getting ready to start medical school. Needless to say, I concurrently explored my self-interests in a plethora of ways to keep me focused yet balanced during this period. Here’s some of the wonderfulness that I discovered:

1) Hayao Miyazaki. Watch “My Neighbor Totoro”. And then show it to your children. And your children’s children. And your children’s children’s children (“Now we just have a Russian doll situation“). It’s timeless and beautiful. Then watch everything else Miyazaki ever drew for the company that he started over 30 years ago, Studio Ghibli. You’ll want to visit Japan as much as I did.

2) ODESZA. Their music video for “Say My Name” is brilliant and beautifully filmed.  What girl can’t relate to feeling rejected and her reality torn open in some form or another?  Not only that, it’s a perfect dance-alone-mid-glass-of-wine-in-a-candle-lit-kitchen song as you recall the countless solitary nighttime dance parties amidst Peace Corps days and the heartbreak and oscillating emotions that followed. Have I mentioned that I’m a sucker for love? Anyways, this song is worth your ear, at least for few minutes. And then perhaps over and over again.

3) Stromae. Just read about his social-media presence and the introduction of the music video “Carmen” in NPR to renew your faith in humble yet utterly dynamic artists.   Now wondering, “Who’s Stromae?” The NYT would love to tell you.  Not addicted yet?  Try these in any which order:

4) When Heaven and Earth Changed Places.  This book is an autobiography of the life of a young woman who grows up during the Vietnam War in a central Vietnamese village and eventually Ho Chi Minh. She details her interactions with the Viet Cong, Americans and later return to Vietnam after immigrating to the States.  Beautifully written as a series of true, raw stories from this woman’s life with her honest and poignant perspective on what it all means.  I could not put it down until the very last page.  And I want to meet this now elderly woman and give her the biggest hug for being so strong, smart, honest and open-hearted, even after everything she has faced.  If you want to learn about her, this short video explains (ignore, or embrace, the outdated clothing).

5) Atul Gawande.  Known for his bestsellers including Better, The Checklist Manifesto and Being Mortal, this highly intelligent but somehow still innovative, inquisitive surgeon brings light to a physician’s view on the state and evolution of healthcare, how it can improve and his attempts to do so.  Diversely researched, he expands his horizons from the food industry to engineering as he explores new methodologies to improve upon our inadequate systems in medicine.  One giant doctor with an even bigger heart, you can’t help but love him.  He also publishes for the New Yorker when he’s not saving lives and writing novels.  Here’s his most recent post about healthcare waste through unnecessary testing.  Do we really need the annual physical?  Well, he’s not the only one questioning that.


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