Education is a Gem

Bismillah (in the name of Allah)…

After a long hiatus, I am finally able to sit down and write something. My reflections have been severely limited, partly because I’m rarely awake after 2 and mostly because of the behemoth that is the first year of med school. I remember during orientation when asked what my biggest fear for med school was, I said that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate what I was learning. Alhamdulillah (all thanks and praise are due to God) for the most part I’m enjoying what’s being taught, but it’s true I don’t have the luxury of reflecting on the amazing things I’ve learned. It’s more just like uttering a “that’s so cool” from time to time.

I now see that expecting to write 1 post a week was ambitious, so I may need to switch up my style into some sort of bulk reflecting where I write multiple posts at a time. I’d rather not do that, and maybe I can carve out some consistent 2 AM reflection time. I really am grateful at the encouragement and understanding of my constant readers during this lapse (you know who you are ;)), and I can’t tell you how much it sucked to see people were viewing the website when I had nothing new to offer. I’ve said that I’m doing this blog for my own benefit, but hey it’s nice to know people actually care.


Enough mushy stuff, now on to the meat! Or in med school terms – enough adipose tissue, on to the muscle! (Speaking of adipose [fat] tissue – it’s the grossest thing ever, but more on that later…) I have been thinking lately of just how blessed I am to have received a good education (not just med school,) but even in a holistic sense. Since reading Malcolm X (definitely recommend this to everyone) I have begun to realize how liberating education can be. It is a true path to freedom – freedom of thought by understanding and freedom of action by purpose. Specifically I’ve just happened upon the power of reading, and I’m starting to see what Malcolm X meant when he said, “My alma mater was books, a good library… I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity.”

You know, I always have loved the smell of Barnes and Noble. I see now that it must have been my inner self trying to tell me how much I would come to love books. Unfortunately I only really have time now to read during my office hours a.k.a. in the bathroom (I highly suggest getting a good book for the john.) I remember at the height of my ignorance – when I graduated from high school – I used to take pride in that I never spent time reading and educating myself. I suppose we are all somewhat like that during high school – we think we know all that there is to know, but after college we realize there’s too much to know and we know very little.

After finishing high school my family threw me a graduation party, which then seemed so trivial, but now I realize is an accomplishment. Near the end of the party when almost everyone had left, a friend of my father (who I rarely spoke to) came up to talk to me. I’ll never forget that moment when he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Son, education is a gem. When I had nothing but the clothes on my back, nobody could ever take it away from me.” When he came to America, he had nothing to his name save a PhD, but had since done well for himself. Back then, I was a little weirded out and kept thinking about why he went out of his way to tell me that. It isn’t until now that I’ve started to appreciate what he was trying to teach me. Education is a gem. No one can take it away from you. A few years later, he passed away (may God grant him the highest levels of paradise.) We never spoke of that exchange and I often wondered if he thought of that day like I did. I wish I could tell him that I’m finally starting to get it or what those words mean to me now. Instead, as a tribute to him I want to pay them forward to you. So take it from me, him, Malcolm X, and all the other truly successful people in this world and really try to internalize those 4 words… Education is a gem.

Happy [educated] Reflecting,