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There is a certain TV broadcast that always starts with a preacher’s voice booming out, “Today is the beginning of the rest of your life.” This line always catches my attention, not only because the preacher’s voice rings out so loud, but also because it is so true. It makes me stop and think about the rest of my life. There are benefits to taking one day at a time, yes, but assuming I’m going to live very long, am I living today like it’s the beginning of the rest of my very long life? What am I doing today to make sure the rest of my life is as I would like it to turn out. How much importance do I attach to today as the day that starts the rest of my life?

Waking up this morning, I didn’t think anything out of the ordinary would come of today. I had supposed I would get my scheduled work done, and that would be it. But sometimes, the most ordinary of days may turn out to be relatively special.

Today I travelled again to the clinical trial site with an external monitor hired to audit our vaccine accountability. I’m pharmacist on a multidisciplinary team conducting this really interesting clinical trial which we hope will break ground in malaria therapy, and immensely reduce infant and maternal deaths worldwide. The journey to the clinical trial site is roughly a 3 hours ride, which is ample time to either be driven nuts by your travel companion or strike an interesting conversation that may open doors of opportunity. Lucky for me, it was the latter.

The trial auditor, my travelling companion, is a pharmacist and pharmacologist of some seniority. Having never had much contact with him prior to yesterday, I had had some concerns as to how the trip might go, given the age difference, et cetera. I was some what apprehensive of those famous uncomfortable silences, when you know you should be saying something but you somehow cannot come up with a suitable topic or the words. So you stay silent, and fidget, then some. Very uncomfortable. Also, you risk coming off as dim.

Well, it obviously helped a lot that we are both pharmacists. There was common ground large enough to span a day’s conversation, room enough to make a good impression on a future lecturer, PhD thesis supervisor or mentor, who knows. So we talked, and talked. Every young professional needs some good mentoring, and this kindly gentleman has been around the block, so to speak.

I talked about what the young blood is upto, drafting a new pharmacy bill, et cetera, and he talked about areas in pharmacy practice that pharmacists could pay more attention to, among other things. Pharmacometrics. I learnt a new term. And of a field that I could quite possibly lean towards, now that I can still afford to move my career any way. I learnt about what else is going on out there, what else there is for me as a budding pharmacist. This doctor told me about his research on efavirenz and quinine, their pharmacogenetics, and the discoveries he had made in his research, discoveries that will change the way these medicines are currently dosed, and the quality of life of people that use these drugs.

I felt inspired, I felt motivated, I felt challenged. I actually once again felt that the sky was the limit for me in my chosen career. The go-getter in me had returned! The more we talked, the more we discussed about where pharmacy practice in Uganda is at right now, the challenges hindering its progress, what’s being done, what opportunities there are out there, the more we discussed all this, the more I felt my hope renewed. The challenges were not so insurmountable anymore. My options are not as limited as I had thought, I could do even more yet.

And today is the beginning of the rest of my life. I’m all fired up with zeal, my passion is re-fuelled, I’m moving forward once again. Today has to count.

Even a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Today is that first step; the step towards the rest of my life. Is it leading me where I want to go; is it doing anything for my journey?