Letters of Inspiration Reply: Oct 26th, 2011

Although I can not reply to every correspondence, be assured, I read every one of them.  They are part of the sustenance that keeps me going.  Sometimes, though, I skip my lunch to respond to some letters.  I would like to share a reply in correspondence that summarizes my history and view about life:

Thanks so much, Aimee, for reaching out to me. I’ll tell you how I would answer your 3 questions and maybe that will give you some insight into the advice you are seeking:

1. I’m Kathy. I’m from the small town of Highland in Upstate NY that hardly anyone has every heard of – even though I went to college IN Upstate New York. I usually describe my town by what’s around it, not in it, like West Point, Vassar College or the Culinary Institute of America. But what’s IN my town is far more important. What’s in my town are hard working, kind, altruistic, salt-of-the-earth people. Why is this important? Well, first and foremost, your future begins where you began. It’s your taking off point – your spring board. Look to your origin, your roots to find who you really are and there you will find who you want to be. I am hard-working, kind, altruistic and a salt-of-the earth person. This led me to chose  heart surgery where you need to work hard, be kind and altruistic and be relatable to your patients – all the while you are being tough as shit.

2. My major in college was bioengineering with a minor in immunology but that’s unimportant – I could’ve majored in Home Ec and still been a heart surgeon. College is about finding your passion. What you’re doing right now as a “conflicted” freshman is EXACTLY what you should be doing – wondering about your future, dreaming about it, being frustrated by it and hopeful about it all at the same time. Hence the conflict. If you weren’t conflicted right now, I’d be worried about you. Open your mind to ALL the possibilities that college offers. Constantly be scanning your life for opportunity or that opportunity may just pass you by without you even knowing it. In college, I took the time to do creative things – a term abroad in Florence Italy, founding the first women’s rugby team (and breaking a few bones in the process), doing an honors research project that, unknowingly at the time, led me down the path of surgery. You do not have a crystal ball, Aimee, and you can’t possible know where your experiences in college will take you. The most important thing is to be at a learning institution that lets you enjoy the journey.

3. Simple question. simple answer. don’t over think it. you’ll drive yourself crazy. and BTW, it’s OK with not having a ready-made plan for your whole future – what fun would that be? The times in my life that were the most interesting were the times when someone pulled the rug out from underneath my future and I could be in free fall for awhile unsure when, if and how I would land.

Here’s how I would answer Question # 3;

I want to help people (not save people – big difference) and make a difference in the world that is much greater than myself. That’s it. that’s all I ever wanted to do with my life. Heart surgery was just a vehicle to get me there. It may be the vehicle for you. It may not. who cares? Just continue on your journey and your heart will lead you the right way. Of this, I am certain.

Oh, and one more thing. Like Steve Jobs said at the June 12, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:If you live each day as if it were your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right. I have ALWAYS lead my life like this. Time is a precious gift. Use it wisely. Make the best of each day, every day. Then, no matter what happens in your future, you will never have any regrets, and in the process, you will lead a full life.

From my Heart……to yours.