“If you stare too long, you forget to live.”
So are the words of Deca, a producer and rapper based in NYC. His lyrics honestly don’t make much sense the first time around, but the more you listen, intently, the clearer and more powerful they become.
It wasn’t until the third time I listened to that line that I truly appreciated its significance. If you stare too long, you forget to live. Now, it’s possible Deca is emulating Nietzsche who tells us, “If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.” They’re both discussing the downsides of staring too long, and as we were all little kids once, we’ve all done it to adults who walked by. It’s weird. But I think there’s more to staring than just being weird.
It’s possible they are both challenging us, as veterinarians, to discover our limits, find our truths, explore our strengths, and stare unafraid into the abyss so that we can find our end which is where all those positive attributes are. But, as they warn us, we shouldn’t stare too long and we shouldn’t go too far, because we will be forever consumed by the abyss and we will ultimately forget to live. In short, it’s possible we shouldn’t be so career-oriented and intense about the process of self-discovery.
In veterinary medicine, and really in any advanced career involving specialized training, studying, and examinations it is very easy to get caught in the end-goal cycle – constantly badgering your exhausted brain with:
“What’s the next step?”
“What’s the end-goal?”
“Am I there yet?”
This is exhausting. This could be a problem, and this is most likely is a problem because with so much focus on the end, everything in between and really the entire process (which is the fun and exciting part) is totally missed. The process goes unnoticed, and we go unfulfilled, tired, and stressed because we are so consumed by what is to come and not at all aware of the good that is right in front of us. Furthermore, it seems the end-goal is never really going to be achieved because the end goal is always changing. We, as veterinarians, are always changing. We are always learning, we are never static, and not a single day is going to be the same, and that’s exciting.
So, stop staring, unless you’re a kid freaked out by an adult on the sidewalk.