My good friend, Rich Frankel, is a pioneer in relationship-centered care who works with medical students at Indiana University Medical School, and with physicians and clinicians at the Cleveland Clinic. Rich told me this story:
“Reza is a Lebanese youth who came to America. He is now becoming a doctor. I met him after a long night of tending patients in an emergency room. As a resident, his face was tired but his eyes were burning strong. We fell into our histories, and he tried to explain why he was becoming a doctor, ‘I was a teenager in Lebanon when a bomb blew our street apart and I was one of many severely wounded. As I lay on the street, blood was everywhere. I couldn’t move. I was in and out of consciousness. The doctors who roamed the streets after such bombings, looking to do their triage, were often forced to assess which of us were worth working on, which of us were good bets to make it. I fell unconscious. The doctor looked at me and said, ‘He’ll never live.’ But purely by chance, the ambulance driver was the goalkeeper on our soccer team, and he knew me. I was his friend. He insisted as the doctor moved on. And when the doctor ignored him, he put his pistol to the doctor’s head and said, ‘Look at him. He is my friend.’ If not for that slight chance and for my friend’s choosing to leap into it, I would not be here.’”
Rich and I were quiet for a long time after this telling. We felt thankful for the slight chances we have faced and for the friends who have leapt into those brief, life-altering openings. As a patch of blood can color a lake, the leap of a friend into our lives can color everything from that day forward, making a blown-apart Lebanese teenager want to become a doctor. Sometimes, we are given a slight chance to stay alive, to come alive, and to find each other. In truth, that’s all we need if we can summon the courage to leap.
A Question to Walk With: In your journal, describe a time when a friend helped keep your soul alive. What was your situation and how did your friend help? How did this passage affect your life and your friendship?
This is from my book, You Don’t Have to Do It Alone.
MAY 19-26: Drinking From the River of Light: The Life of Expression, Weeklong Retreat, Global Journeys, Florence Italy, (web link) — IN PERSON https://globalj.org/mark-nepo-overview/
AUG 4-6: Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY, Surviving Storms: Finding the Strength to Meet Adversity, Weekend Retreat — IN PERSON
For info on Mark’s upcoming events, visit: https://marknepo.com/teaching_schedule.php