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May 1, 1981

Simple Gifts

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Scientific Publications, American Medical Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1981;245(17):1733-1735. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310420023022

TO DELIVER a convocation address is an occasion of grave temptation: for example, I am tempted to tell you everything I wish I had known when I was a freshman medical student. Worse even, I am tempted to tell you everything I think you should know, to wrap it, ribbon it, and present it to you in one neat little package that you can open from time to time and extract whatever sweet you may desire at the moment.

But this would be a mistake. It would be, perhaps to save you a little pain, but it would also rob you of the greatest joy that comes from discovery. Certain things cannot be taught by telling—they must be experienced.

And so I am not going to tell you anything. I am simply going to unwind a few threads from my own skein and let you weave them into the fabric

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