Ars Longa Vita Brevis or Life is Brief, Art is Long


Discovering the quote, ‘Life is brief, art is long.’, coming from Hippocrates, caused me to reflect.  Initially, I thought this quotation to mean life is short, but art goes on forever.  But no, these words and its meaning are far more profound than just that.

Ponder this; there is more art to learn than one cannot possibly acquire and comprehend it all in one’s lifetime.  Hippocrates a Greek surgeon and considered the “Father of Western Medicine,” was realizing that there is so much to understand about healing and that there is no way to achieve all of this in a lifetime.  Spending a career in healthcare and peripheral involvement in biomedical research as a sales representative; I fully appreciate the complexity of life, and that constantly learns, and new discoveries are always awaiting us.

hipprocates with childDesiring to become a freelance medical writer and “retire my spatula and counting tray” I gained even greater respect for writers and the fact that writing is an art and skill, and like any endeavor one must work at it to become proficient.  Successful and tenured writers like to share this comeback when one makes light of the writing profession, “When a surgeon says that when he no longer wants to continue to be a surgeon and puts down his scalpel and forceps and says, ‘I’ll become a writer.’  The writer responds in a similar manner, “When I grow weary of writing, I lay down my pen and become a surgeon.”

writing with glassesAll too often, several fail to appreciate the long hours of training, practice, and dedication to their art or profession that has allowed one to succeed and become known.  Should you be embarking on a new career, do not become discouraged, but persevere and realize that becoming skillful takes time.

art is longTwo well-known English writers reiterate the words of Hippocrates.  Chaucer wrote The life is short, the craft so long to learn.”  Sir John Davies penned, “Skill comes so slow, as life so fast doth fly, We learn so little and forget so much.”