This year we have seen a number of deaths which have marked people from all walks of life. To new a few I am including Peter Falk, actor, best known for his role as Lieutenant Columbo in the television series Columbo (I grew up watching it on Sunday nights!); Elizabeth Taylor, actress; Muammaral-qaddafi, Libyan Military Ruler; Amy Whinehouse singer and songwriter; Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple; Marco Simoncelli, Italian Motorcycle racer; and Baruch S. Blumberg, American research physician whose discovery of an antigen that provokes antibody response against hepatitis B led to the development by other researchers of a successful vaccine against the disease (he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1976 with D. Carleton Gajdusek for their work on the origins and spread of infectious viral diseases). Even the age of the demises spanned substantially from 24 years (Simoncelli) to 85 years (Blumberg).
Each one of these people has marked humanity in its own way. In essence, all made us dream (maybe one made us have nightmares). Be it the silver screen, radio, stage, racing tracks, lab or computer… you name it and there it is… each one of us modelling his or her life’s expectations, whether intentionally or not, according to the perceived projections of these icons of humanity…
However one icon, so to say, which has left an impact on me is Steve Jobs. Not only because many of my friends showcased or spoke about iphones or ipads or iclouds whilst I had an inferior brand (and believe you me they seemed to enjoy drumming into my head the fact that Apple was by far superior to any other brand). But he left an impact on me mainly because of his famous speech delivered in 2005 at Stanford University. I first heard this speech when I was studying management and later when I attended a course on public speaking. Through his speech, which I recommend everyone to watch on youtube, he unveils his childhood, work endeavours and reflections of death, through three storytellings. Back then, the latter thoughts were obviously inspired by his recent surgery for pancreatic cancer.
Throughout his personal experiences he was telling the students in front of him to always try and turn difficulties into opportunities. For him, some difficulties inadvertently indeed turned into opportunities later on in life. Such as when he dropped out of his course at Reed College and decided to take a calligraphy class simply because he enjoyed doing it. He learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, etc. He admitted that none of this had any practical application in his life. Or so he thought. However 10 years later, when they were designing the first Mac, he used it to design the first computer with a unique typography ie multiple typefaces, proportionally spaced fonts, etc. If he had never dropped out of that course in college, he would have never attended that calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the typography as we know it today.
His key message was to always love what one does. This should be the driving force in everything one does. And if one stops and thinks about this, it is indeed a very simple message. Yet, at times, we tend to forget this and we need a powerful figure to remind us these very basics of life.
Jobs also acknowledged that at times, life events forge a better future or a better us without us even realizing it. It is only after viewing it as a hind sight that one realizes this. As Jobs worded it, his firing from Apple “… was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it.”
After watching his speech for the upteenth time, I pondered on our profession. Many times our ideals seem to be sacrifiable to money and power. Maybe not at the beginning, since the Hippocratic Oath would still be reverberating through the corridors of our brain, but then slowly it would seem to die a natural death. Maybe not for all of us, but for many of us.
At this point I would like to suggest that you read ‘Doctor, Doctor – Where are thou? Medics in Movies and Television’ penned by film critic Justin Camilleri for us some years ago.
And with Jobs advocating us to remain hungry, we at The Synapse are always striving to find the best diet for our members. In fact we will soon be launching a new version of our online portal. The aim is to improve integration of services and increase networking – this will include the addition of a forum and facilities that promote social networking between members. We will also be integrating eLearning with the portal. In addition, the new portal will include new sections such as the provision of better facilities for promotion of job vacancies as well as sale / exchange of any items between members. All is aimed to promote a healthy interaction between members of the various medical professions. If you require more information, simply send an email to editor@thesynapse. net.