Just like that, Dr. Morris’ mother was going rafting. On the last part of the trip, despite serious trepidation, she joined him and his friends on a particularly rough stretch of rapids. At one point, Dr. Morris leaned the wrong way and fell into the water, and his mother pulled him back into the raft. “At that point, when my mother was clearly dying, I think she may have been more fully alive than she ever was before,” he said.
Explore This IssueNovember 2015
Dr. Morris hopes his colleagues will learn from his mother’s example. “My mother didn’t skip the last rapid. She also didn’t let certainty interfere with her decision. She was actually okay to be uncertain with her future.”
Accepting uncertainty is the only way to change, Dr. Morris said. “We spend way too much time wanting to be certain about something. If that’s how you view it, you will never move things forward. We have to be comfortable with uncertainty. It’s the only way things change.”
He asked the audience to remember these lessons as they went about caring for patients. “I would also ask you not to forget the girl in the burka,” he said, pausing to unbutton his shirt and reveal a T-shirt with a green clover on it that had “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” written across it. “Because deep down inside all of us,” he said, “we’re all Irish.”
Thomas Collins is a freelance medical writer based in Florida.