Christal Lane, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM

Maya Angelou reciting her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning,” at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration in 1993.

One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

I’ve had this quote posted on mirrors, in lockers, and in various binders and planners over the years. Aside from the fact that Maya Angelou is one of my many role models, this quote has been a staple in my day-to-day life as I have gone through various stages of life.

I was unpacking some of my boxes from my most recent move and found the notecard that had been taped to a mirror with this quote. I smiled fondly as I placed it in the basket of things to be put in my new locker at the hospital. I didn’t realize how important this would be as I started training to move into my new position as a full-time medical laboratory scientist in the microbiology lab I had worked in as a student.

When I started training on the various benches, I began to panic. There was a lot to learn and at some point, I would be trusted to do this all on my own. I pulled my brand-new-butalready-well-worn notebook close as I continued to write down every. little. detail. so that I wouldn’t miss anything for when that day arrived. I was already making elaborate plans on how to re-write this treasure trove of a book so that my eclectic collection of notes might actually make sense down the road when I was on my own.

“I don’t know everything today, nor will I know it tomorrow, but tomorrow, I will know a little more.”

Fear would wake me up each morning (or did it keep me up all night?) because I was terrified of making a mistake. I did not want to mess up. I did not want to cause a patient harm, or worse, cause their death. But as I got home from work on a particularly overwhelming day (where I did in fact make a mistake), I found this quote from Maya. This quote in no way excuses my mistakes—nor will it ever do so. But this quote supplied me hope. Hope that though I don’t know everything today, nor will I know it tomorrow, but tomorrow, I will know a little more.

Today, I will do the best I can. I will ask you a ton of questions, and it may be the same question I asked you before (whether that was last month, last week, or 30 minutes ago). I may write it down, then write it down again, oh, and it will be transferred to the new notebook, too. But I am here to learn from you, to take all the knowledge that you have spent years acquiring, so that one day I will be able to give that knowledge to another.

Another great Maya quote before I go, you ask? “I do my best because I am counting on you counting on me.” I wrote this out on the notecard underneath my first Maya quote. I circled “you” and drew out lines from the word to what that word represents. My Coworkers. Doctors. Patients. My family. A future student. Myself.

Maya also once said that fear and hope cannot occupy the same space. Tomorrow, I will wake up with hope and start a new day to learn a new thing. I invite you to do the same.

Christal Lane is a medical technologist at Methodist University in Memphis.

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