Most people don’t usually associate an emergency room with a place to gain a lot of insight about ourselves. To most, the emergency room is a place for waiting, and suffering and bad news. I, however, get a totally different vibe from this place of desperation. The emergency room is a place where almost nothing is a surprise and where other people’s pain and suffering act as a concrete testament to human nature, for better or for worse. Every Saturday from 8 AM to 1 PM I work, or volunteer, I should say, at the local emergency room. I had a choice of where I wanted to volunteer. I had the choice of other places, such as the flower desk, or the maternity ward, but something inside of me told me that there was more to learn from people with broken bones and partial amputations than from flowers and babies.
Seeing people panicked and in pain really makes me question our place in nature. We are an amalgam of animalistic instinct with self control, rationality with recklessness, idiocy with aptitude.
There are people that walk in who, honestly, nobody would like to help: like a man who was driven to the emergency room by his wife who he broke his hand beating, and there are, though significantly fewer, cases in which the good in us comes out.
Sitting at the front desk for 4 hours is like watching nature on fast forward. The whole human life cycle unfolds behind the sliding glass doors of the hospital. People arrive to give birth, people arrive to die; it all seems to blend in after a while.
So what do I get from all of this? How has seeing pints of blood and carrying limp old people out of vans, impacted, or even taught me anything? How have my beliefs changed, having seen a man have a heart attack and die 6 feet from me? Really, it just makes me aware of how lucky we are, to be alive, and how amazing life really is. I mean, there are so many things that can go wrong at any time yet we are completely oblivious to it all most of the time. We don’t take the time to appreciate the intricate and irreplaceable machine that is our body, our one way ticket into and out of life. And more than this, we even go as far as to willingly shoot, blow up and poison something that is so much greater than we can imagine. It is the very uncertainty of our time here that makes us cherish our evanescent existence. This I believe.
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