NPR’s book club read Abraham Verghese’s Cutting for Stone this month and chatted with the author.
On the choice between life and work:
Medicine presents us with this false dichotomy, or rather this temptation, that you come to medicine incomplete, you come to medicine because in a way you’re wounded, and the grand privilege that medicine gives you is that you care for others and your woundedness becomes healed … My sense was that if I just did this medicine thing very well, then I would be forgiven everything else. I didn’t need to be a good husband or a father who was very present … Perfection of the work won’t get you perfection of the life. You have to think of these as two parallel trains; there’s life and there’s work, and they run on parallel tracks and there’s times when one gets a little ahead of the other, but you can’t let them get too far away … Humans beings need to work to feel fulfilled; human beings need to love and feel loved … Maybe that is the name for the two trains — instead of calling it life and work, you could call it love and work. And they can’t get too far apart before you get into trouble.