For a number of reasons, the end of 2015 did not go as smoothly for me as the beginning did. At a time when I needed some inspiration, I came across Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford University commencement address on YouTube. The speech is only 15 minutes long and I think is well worth the listen. In it, Jobs shares three stories from his life: dropping out of college, being fired from the company he started, and learning that he had pancreatic cancer. On paper, these are three less-than-favorable realities. Yet, these three things, Jobs contested, were instrumental in shaping his life, ultimately for the good. Without spoiling the stories, I will briefly comment on his words of “connecting the dots” in life. “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward.” As much as we veterinary students may project how our careers will play out, it is a futile endeavor to some degree. We do not know which professors, mentors, or employers will inspire us so to change our previously concrete plans. We cannot predict things, good or bad, beyond our control that greatly impact us; we can only respond to them after the fact.
To put a positive spin on bad things in life, I liken negative instances such as those described by Jobs as “blessings in disguise.” I may never know why bad things happen to good people, but somewhere down the road the answers may become apparent or the problems so far in the past that they are not even worth thinking about. Life is a long pathway. One thing is for certain: the path between the dots is made much easier when you have friends on either side.