“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he head and bought that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

– Matthew 13:44-46

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Starting last week, I decided to take a 24 hr rest day from school once a week.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m still studying hard (or trying to), but I want to get more out of life than studying all day everyday.  Of course, the reason I can afford to do this is because the first 2 years of med school here are on a pass/fail system.  Although I would like to score as high as possible, whether I score in the 90s or 70s it’ll show up as a Pass on my grades.  Thank you God.

For those of you who don’t quite know med students, it’s pretty intense how much volume of materials we need to absorb.  Many of us try to study all day everyday and still feel like that’s not enough time to learn the material.  So to be honest it’s pretty scary to take a full day off from studying.

Realistically, I expect my academic performance to suffer a bit initially.  But I’m not doing so terribly in school right now, so I’ll probably pass all my classes no problem.

The real problem is coping with the thought of letting go of my academic idolatry.  Quite frankly, studying is my life at the moment; it’s what I’m here to do.  Why am I trying to let go of that?  Because I want something better.

Theoretically, I don’t care too much about getting spectacular grades, as long as they’re decent enough.  I don’t care too much about looking smart and receiving praise from my peers and professors.  Instead, I want to invest my time and energy in relationships and my character.  I won’t remember much of what I studied in my first year of med school, but I’ll remember the times I had with my good friends.  I don’t want to be remembered as a guy who studied really hard, but as a guy who truly loved his neighbors and was brave enough to be transparent about his weaknesses.  That’s the kind of life I want.

That’s all theory though.  In reality, I’m having a hard time letting go of having academics at the center of my life.  Unfortunately, to gain something better, you need to first let go of the thing you have right now.  And it’s funny how foolish I am to be so reluctant to let this go, knowing that I can’t have the better thing until I rid myself of it.  When a man finds a treasure in a field, he should theoretically be willing to joyfully sell all his possessions to buy that field.  But a foolish man hesitates to sell his favorite clothes or his old car or something that he has, even though he knows that the treasure waiting for him is worth a lot more.

To be clear, I don’t think it’s bad to study all day everyday in med school.  I also don’t mean to say that taking a day off is automatically allowing me to be awesome at other parts of my life.  Today (yesterday?) I just pigged out on a giant burrito and fell asleep at 7PM.  At the moment, it’s about letting go.  Then hopefully when my heart is in the right place I can work on that better life I’ve been talking about.

Simeon Koh

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