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A Piece of My Mind
October 7, 1998

On Being Human

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;280(13):1135. doi:10.1001/jama.280.13.1135

Wheresoever action is found, chance-taking is sure to be.—Erving Goffman, Interaction Ritual

I am a survivor. In many ways, we all are.

As we pummel through the course of our daily routine, there is no guarantee that some unforeseeable event will not upset the balance of life. Despite the regularity of our day-to-day maneuvers, we can only hope a tailgater stops when we do at an intersection, assume that neighbors are prudent while grilling on the terrace above us, or pray a student will come to class unarmed and eager to learn. Similarly there is no impenetrable promise of good health in this age of medical enlightenment. For all the non–fat-laden, whole bran–bending, Olestra-popping practices, our physical trajectories remain as uncertain and nebulous as an impending summer squall.