Yet again another one of my clinic tales, is ‘the girl with the burning car’…
I can not remember what clinic this was anymore but that’s not important to this story anyway so I’ll just continue. So it was clinic and we were all gathered in the room waiting for the doctor to come so that we could start seeing patients. By we, I mean I and some other medical students that I don’t really know on any personal level. Clinic is supposed to commence at 08:00am but it generally starts once the doctor for that clinic steps into the room and settles in. At this particular time though, the doctor was running late and what better way for medical students to spend their ‘free’ time than study their way to malnourishment or discuss medical topics to the final period. It at least started that way with the others (they fell into the second category, discussions) and then segued into a myriad of things. I on the other hand not knowing them very well fell into the first group, studying my way to … yeah, malnutrition. Anyway, I was studying or at least trying to but was coming short due to the sound of their conversation competing with my ‘inner voice’ – the voice you hear in your mind when reading something silently, I don’t know what else to call it. Medical school hasn’t taught me that yet. But yeah, I was studying and keeping one of my ears perked up at the same time in case they talked about something I didn’t know or any extra classes I again, didn’t know about when like with a lot of conversations, there came a dry spell – the time when the conversation sort of fades into silence and we try to fill that silence so that it doesn’t go too long and morph into awkwardness or anxiousness. Some of us just don’t care for it. Cue in my ‘girl with the burning car’;
‘So guys, last night I had one of the weirdest and scariest dreams. I dreamt that my car caught fire and it was so real that I felt very scared when I woke up and relieved that nothing happened to my car and it was just a dream. But why would I dream about my car burning though? I mean, that was the only thing that happened in the dream which is a little strange… but now I sort of feel anxious about the car because you know my parents just got it for me a few months back…’
The place grew quiet for a little bit, then cue in our – please forgive my sarcasm- psychologist in the house;
‘Your car burning just represents the innate fear you have of anything bad happening to it or anything going wrong with it’
Then cue in the choir with choruses of ‘yeah… yeah’, some ‘true.. true’ or ‘right’, ‘exactly’ and other words of affirmation whilst nodding their heads.
Then girl with the car; ‘Really?’
In medicine the suffix ‘oid’ means like or something that resembles e.g. styloid (from the styloid process of one of the bones in the forearm) in medicine means resembling a stylus, but not a stylus, just resembling it. So let’s try our medical lingo in this case; Psychologist + oid = Psychologoid.
So our psychologoid goes; ‘Yeah… I’m telling you. That’s it’ whilst nodding his head too.
And our girl gradually had this look on her face like someone wrapping their mind around an idea they didn’t think was possible prior or someone tasting a new flavour of food for the first time.
And I almost burst out with laughter as I watched all of this unfold before my eyes, I looked from her expression to psychologoid’s expression of conviction and utter surety and in my head my ‘inner voice’ shouted ‘HOW DO YOU KNOW?!’
‘WHAT QUALIFIES YOU TO BE SO SURE?!
‘WHAT QUALIFICATION OR EXPERIENCE SHOULD MAKE US BELIEVE WHAT YOU SAY AS FACT JUST BECAUSE YOU SAID IT?!’
‘AND HOW CAN YOU BE SO SURE OF SOMETHING YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT, SOMETHING YOU HAVEN’T PROVEN, SOMETHING THAT ISN’T SURE, SOMETHING YOU HAVEN’T STUDIED?!’
‘AND WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO TRY TO MAKE ME BELIEVE YOUR AMATEUR CONCLUSION AS GOSPEL?!’
‘How can you be so convinced of something you’re not sure of?’
When I was a child I read a book one time, a spiritual book about the interpretation of dreams that said ‘if you see your car burning’ then it means someone close to you will die soon. And back then, I would go to sleep hoping I didn’t see a car burning in my dream and because I didn’t even have a car, I would pray and hope not to see Mummy or Daddy’s car in my dream. And anytime Mummy or Daddy had a dream, I would pray in my heart that it wasn’t one of any of their cars burning. So I became scared because of something I read that I wasn’t sure about and I was very gullible to believe anything because after all I was just 8 years old I think.
Both events made me realise multiple things;
- Sometimes we are so sure, so certain of things we don’t know about, things we haven’t experienced, giving advice from an unskilled mind. A mind that hasn’t gone through what the other is going through. You can be sympathetic but not empathetic. Don’t tell me ‘I understand exactly what you’re going through’ if you haven’t gone through something similar.
- Sometimes we are afraid of the uncertain, the other countless possibilities of things that could happen that we are not a 100% sure of. We are more afraid of the things we do not know than the things we do know. We are afraid of the answers those niggling questions floating in our minds that haven’t been solved yet may bring.
- Fear is a very strong emotion that can twist your mind with anxiety or make you extra cautious, make you behave in ways you sometimes can not control. Now imagine if that fear was uncalled for, irrational. I guess that’s where phobias come in. I could talk, I’m acrophobic and claustrophobic. I never liked when my uncle would throw me up in the air as a child. I would scream in freight but he always thought it was delight, and I didn’t know how to tell him so I would just hope he didn’t throw me up the next time I saw him. Apparently, all children are supposed to like being thrown in the air.
- Sometimes because of the fear of anything happening to the things precious to us or to the new things we have, we tend to lock up our hearts as protection against heartbreak, we are extra cautious with the new bundles of joys in our arms or cuddling our waists, and we shy away from revealing our new relationships or introducing those special people to others to prevent potential thievery.
But no matter how cautious we are… How protective we are… How we try to avoid those hurts, that thievery… Yes, some of those things could be prevented. Yes, we could potentially avoid the roadblocks but the inevitable will always happen. That’s why it’s called the ‘inevitable’. And you can not stop those, don’t set yourself up for failure/disappointment/heartbreak by setting unrealistic goals. So if you’ve being carrying around some weight of self blame, guilt, or asking yourself ‘Could I have done something to prevent it?’, If that event was inevitable, there was no precaution or preventative measure or protection you could have done to stop it.