This post is dedicated to my friend Mohammad Asadi Lari, and to all the individuals on the PS752 flight from Tehran to Kyiv. My condolences to everyone experiencing a loss, to the Iranian community and to all of Canada as a whole. We have experienced a loss of many bright minds, dedicated individuals and vast potential. This is a tragic incident that will haunt many of us for the rest of our lives. The best we can do is remember those who have fallen and to never allow their memory to fade, but to instead spread positivity and help all our brothers and sisters heal.
Mohammad Asadi Lari, the name of a classmate and friend of mine who unfortunately was on the PS752 plane on Wednesday January 8, 2020. He was spending the holiday visiting his family in Iran with his sister. My last conversation with Mohammad was during this past weekend. During that conversation, he informed me he was flying back on Wednesday. When I heard about the crash Tuesday night, I hoped and prayed Mohammad was not on that flight. I went to bed with a fear in my heart, and in the morning when the passenger list was released, I was in a state of shock I could not articulate. Mohammad was beyond an outstanding individual. He always strived to make the world a better place, advocated for those who did not have a voice, and was very determined. If there was anybody that I thought would be the top of whatever field they would end up in, it was Mohammad. Good was never good enough, and he was a man that really worked to ensure he was part of as many diverse opportunities to build himself as possible.
Mohammad was an intelligent social butterfly. He was well-informed, well-spoken and knew many people. He presented himself with a level of confidence I could not describe. I also cannot count the number of initiatives he has been a part of or has initiated. I always joked with him that he was always on his way to a meeting, in a meeting or just getting out of a meeting. If there was a very well-rounded individual that truly belonged to be in an MD program it was him. From the moment I met him, I could tell he was caring. He always tried his best to better the people around him, never shying away from providing advice, tips, and guidance. When I first met Mohammad, I knew this guy could do great things, and he was always extremely helpful. I spoke with him a few of times, and he provided me tips on how to improve my networking, given my lack of prior exposure to it. We also always would study together at the shared study space where I would always “pimp him” on the spot with questions and work through cases with him. We really helped each other grow. We really wanted to see each other succeed.
During my medical career, I founded the Iranian Medical Student Association at the University and Mohammad was extremely supportive of the initiative. He provided a lot of support from behind the scenes. He thoroughly supported the idea of bringing the Iranian community together and trying to thrive through unity. We had big plans, and before the winter break, we spoke about the future of the group and what we could accomplish together. We also spoke extensively about advocacy and mentorship and he provided me tips on how to best build my blog and provide as much support for my readers as possible. There is just so much to say about Mohammad that I could go on for hours. What I want to make this post about is not just to remember him, but to honour him. I would like to speak on what I learned from Mohammad and what I aim to improve in my own life through reflecting on what I learned from him.
The first thing I reflected and learned from Mohammad is to aim to help more people around me. Mohammad never strayed away from helping those in his community in which he had the capacity to assist. I will attempt to emulate this through taking more efforts to help those in the community who I can. This starts with this blog. Starting today, I will make more time to help my readers. If you are reading this and would like to have a one-on-one chat with me and learn more about medicine, medical school or anything you feel I can help with, please, use the contact button on this page. I cannot guarantee anything, but I will make it my aim to assist as many as I can, with the hope that you pay it forward with those who you can assist in your community. I especially would like those of you who are underprivileged and/or lack any friends or family members in medicine. I know it can be increasingly difficult for certain groups to break through, and just as Mohammad really wanted to work to fight for those who were actively oppressed, I would love to emulate part of this. I will try and find time to chat with you as long as you are a well-intended human looking to build a better society. I hope that through his legacy I can help foster more loving kind people and support them in any fashion I can.
My second learning point was teaching me about what really matters in life and providing me perspective. With each difficulty one goes through, they learn more about themselves and the world around them. Going through a difficult time, such as the loss of someone you knew, really allows one to see what really matters in life. Things which may seem like the end of the world, may not really be so. Everything can change in an instant. No matter how much money you have, no matter your education, no matter who your parents were, death is an equalizer. The best legacy you can leave that will live on longer than your body or mind, is a positive impact on others. With your passing, people will take what you left behind and try to progress it, attempting to embody your vision. Hopefully, if you were striving to build a better tomorrow, you will have made a positive impact on others who are then able to complete any work you left behind, and they can further inspire others leading to a chain of positivity. Through this experience, it has provided me the opportunity to reflect on what I want my legacy to be for when I eventually pass. I am now brainstorming ways to ensure that I can help promote those ideas.
The final learning point is to not delay gratification as much. The career of medicine is largely centered around delayed gratification, and many medical and premedical students like to plan the future and work towards building this future. This is not a bad thing, however, overdoing it can lead to being removed from, and not fully experiencing or enjoying the present. You may be so determined by what you are trying to achieve, you forget about what is going on around you. It is important to ensure you cherish the present, while still working towards and building a future. This does not mean abandoning all planning for the future to “live in the moment”. It is a difficult balance to strike, but I believe is one that is vital to ensure you balance happiness with success. With the increasing rates of burnout, unhappiness, depression and suicide in medicine, you need to prioritize your mental health starting today. Building good habits and focusing on your mental well-being is not something you can delay gratify, since it will only get busier and more difficult to find time to learn strategies for your mental health. Remember, while you like to plan for the day you are 80, it can all change in the blink of an eye. Enjoy the moment while you are healthy and are capable while still ensuring you still build memories you can look back at and be happy you were present during them.
These are some of the highlights of my takeaways and learning points from my reflection. Lost lives are not replaceable, but we can aim to offset some of what we as a community lost by each taking on a piece of each person’s legacy. Remember we are all in this together. Spread love and positivity to all, there is no reason to pay attention to hate in this world. Life is precious, value it and support one another. Your time is precious, value it and do not waste it on those looking to spread hate. If we could all just spread a little more love, be a little bit more caring, we could really have a better world.
I wish I could speak to you one more time Mohammad. I wish I could grill you another time for missing class for another one of your meetings. I wish you could make fun of me as you usually did about my large bank of useless knowledge. I wish we could study one more time together for a test neither of us were prepared for. I wish I prolonged my conversation with you this past weekend which ended the day before you boarded your flight. I wish I could have known to tell you to avoid flying that day. Most of all, I wish you could see how much we all miss you and how much you mean to all of us. You left us without a proper good-bye. Your body is gone, but your passions remain forever, and none of us will let you die off. Thank you for all your work and rest easy, you deserve it.
Mohammad performed a TEDx talk you can view I have linked below