I have often sat alone in my room, wondering how we as humans would be able to achieve any of our lifelong goals without passion to push us in our pursuits. The devotion is what has led scientists and doctors to make discoveries in the medical field. Passion can lead to great success in life, or lead to a path of great misery. Passionate pursuits cause us to go after what we love with a blind ambition, fueling our want and need to accomplish our goals. Every person has a passion for what they love to do; it is what helps them strive to achieve their goals. Marie Curie held passion for scientific inquiries and research of the unknown magic in our physical realm. This path led her to the love of her life, yet ultimately, it also led her to her death. These pursuits resemble a double-edged sword, helping to gain the goal one wished for, yet also presenting hardships that are impossibly difficult to surpass.
Marie Curie is a woman who grew up under the oppressive nature of her homeland in Poland, yet lived a decent life. Her life started to break apart when she first lost her “eldest sister to typus, and then her mother to tuberculosis.” (17) Around the age of 16, she started to “imagine the freedom of studying in Paris at the Sorbonne.”(17) Her desire to learn had her leaving home, working as a governess “to the daughters of Juiliusz Zorawski, the supervisor of [an] enormous sugar beet factory… [in] Warsaw.” (19) She met her first lover there due to her ambition to make money for school, but because of her economic status, she was rejected. This dismissal left her heartbroken, yet strengthened her resolve to go to the Sorbonne. The decision led her to Pierre Curie, her future husband and companion in her love for science. He encouraged her to remain passionate to her dream and helped her in pursuing it. She found a companion to share her thoughts and life with, as well as work. Their work together led to the field of radioactivity as well as two daughters. They were able to establish that “radioactive was an atomic property” (55) and it helped in finding the “new element ‘radium’.”(55) With the knowledge that they were acquiring, Marie and Pierre “were  recognized for ‘the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena.’” (73) They won their first Nobel Prize, with Marie receiving a second after Pierre’s death. (73) As the years progressed and World War I approaches, Marie becomes in helping her “adopted country, keen to aid in the war effort.” (155) She created mobile x-ray units, where she and her eldest daughter, Irene, helped to treated wounded soldiers. (156) Being the first to have worked with radioactivity, it “had made [them] immortal,” but not without consequence. (74)
Though Marie lived passionately for her love of science, it led her to deal with many adversities. She had to deal with being considered only as a woman, not meant to be working or treated as well as a man. She would work in the lab with her husband during the day, but also return home “midday to nurse her child and cook for her husband in the evenings.” (42) Though the event occurred after the couple’s death, they were also one of the leading causes to the bombing of Hiroshima, as their work was a major contributor. Their work helped in killing hundreds of thousands of lives. Pierre and Marie’s research impacted the life of Sadae Kasaoka who was “a child in Hiroshima in 1945.” (83) She was one of many children affected by the bomb and feared for her life. While working with radioactive elements, both Marie and Pierre did not take precaution for their health. Their work may not have completely caused Pierre’s death, but it was a factor in it. He had begun to become weak from working with radioactive materials for so long, leaving him unable to do anything when the horse drawn carriage plowed him over. After her husband’s death, the stress of her work led her to make a decision that would impact even this most beloved passion. She gained a lover, her husband’s student Paul Langevin, and this caused an upset in the balance of her life. This choice almost cost her the second Nobel Prize in chemistry. Slowly, the affair ended and the scandal faded. She continued her work with radioactivity, but it gradually ate her away. Marie had become “wraithlike, [with] a humming in her ears, and her vision failing after four cataract surgeries.” (171) The medical examiner determined the cause of death to be “‘aplastic pernicious anemia’ due to prolonged radiation exposure.” (171) Ultimately, her passion cost her the life she devoted to it. While Marie’s life was influenced by her passion for scientific research, my passion was influenced by my loved ones.
My passion from when I was young has been devoted to medicine and life. I have been intrigued with the field since I was 5 years old, still living in Bangladesh. The medical field in my country was not very advanced, with low tech equipment and less than adequate knowledge of medicine and ailments, so it is a miracle that I am here in America pursuing such a field. Medicine is a part of my daily life, as I read online news articles and journals about the different trials of new chemicals created to help prolong and energize the lives we lead. Marie Curie’s research has helped to fight cancer, an astounding mystery still. Everyday, I am privileged to learn something new about the human body we inhabit, and every day, I am even more passionate about how to help others live a good life. I deal with medicine all the time, as my family has an extensive amount to deal with at home. My mother alone has medication meant to treat Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, blood pressure, Diabetes, and hypertension. We have so much medicine littering our home, we sometimes joke about how we have a pharmacy at our fingertips. I go to doctor’s appointments with my mother all the time and translate for her. Seeing the way that the doctor comes to a conclusion to help her improve her health intrigues me. The symptoms that roll off my tongue reaches the ears of the physician and I can practically see how the doctor is reacting to the information provided by us and how they come to an educated conclusion to what may be ailing my mother. It further deepens my love to help others and go into the field of medicine. Being able to have knowledge, and help my mother in organizing her medicine gives me such joy. I feel ecstatic knowing that I can do something to help in making her healthier. Being sick with a myriad of illness, from colds to insomnia, I grow to appreciate the hard task that the doctors take on to help treat us. Every day, the persistent desire to bear the knowledge of being a doctor grows stronger, leaving me struggling with the burden of the positive and negative effects the knowledge would bring.
Sadly, this love does not go without consequence. I see the dark side of medicine too. I see people who I care for have to deal with pain if the medicine is not at the right dosage or doesn't work the way it’s supposed to. I have had to see my loved ones rushed to the emergency room late at night due to adverse reactions to their medicine that a qualified doctor would prescribe. I was the one to tell the emergency physician what symptoms developed as a result of the erroneous medicine. I was the person they depended on to understand my family members’ situation. I see the repercussions that many deal with when they abuse medicine. More so my friends than my family, I try to explain what happens to them when they take drugs that will only provide a momentary euphoria and leave them seeking for more. The addiction they feed only makes me grow weary of what a doctor gives, knowing of the addictive nature of some medicine, especially narcotics like Vicodin or Morphine. It makes me fear the very field I hope to pursue. All the trials that are being done, make me feel horrible knowing that humans voluntarily go into these trails with the hope of success on the first try. I feel that way when I have to hear about the cruelty animals endure for the sake of us taking medicine, essentially chemicals that are molded to produce a specific reaction for an ailment. Every time I hear a failure in the field I love, I feel anxious. I fear going into medicine yet also feel more determined to change the results and create a success. My life, like Marie’s, has revolved around my passion of pursuing a job in the medical field. Our lives and passions lead us to leaving our homeland, and pursue an education in our field of interest, yet also shape us into who we are; showing how passion can play a fundamental role in our life choices.
Marie Curie fell so deeply in love with her research, that she died for it. The amount of time she spent around radioactive materials had caused her health to decline until her death in 1906, at the age of 66. (171) She was willing to forfeit even her eldest daughter, Irene, to the field, bringing in her future generations. Irene became a radiologist, and her daughter, Marie’s granddaughter, Helene, had taken to a combination of her maternal grandparents’ fields, becoming a nuclear physicist. Unlike Marie, I am not as certain of my love. I am not willing to hurt those I love to pursue my field. I can’t see myself allowing pain upon others willingly, especially my loved ones. Passion is something that drives us to do something we love, but being radically passionate in one’s pursuits will lead to negative consequences. It breaks from being a passion to an obsession, as it can cause the loss of control over one’s ability to break from the intensity of its pull, leads to glory, still bringing just as much misery. There is an equivalent exchange between happiness and despair. Passion is something, as humans, we have to be weary of. We cannot allow it to control us so blindly, that we are willing to lose our life and those around us. We have to keep a balance between what we love and reality, to keep everyone, as well as ourselves, safe. Using passion to pursue our goals create a positive effect, but allowing it to control us without question only brings calamity.
It is our free will to pursue a choice profoundly. Passion is an incredibly strong emotion that can be utilized to help achieve long-standing goals, but it cannot have control over the very life it’s meant to aid. Marie’s passion for scientific inquiries had allowed her to have a life full of success, as well as misfortune. Marie and I share common ground in our love for the field of science, but we differ in our ability to control how much passion we allow to lead us in our goals. Whether it be one or many, it depends on our ability to focus on passion, not allowing it to tread on obsession. Marie’s pursuit of scientific inquiries and research had crossed over to obsession, losing her control over her love. I feel that we differ in that aspect. While she lost herself in her work, evidently bringing much success to her life such as her family, she had to deal with how her work was slowly killing her and, after her death, was later the leading contributor in creating the atomic bomb. I find myself being significantly more cautious about how I go about reaching for my ambition. I want to pursue my life’s goal without harming the people I love and care for. Marie may have cared for her family, but she allowed her work to reach her personal life and cause havoc. Marie Curie sets an example as one of the most driven people, having created the field of radioactivity, yet I fear that her ambition pushed her to the point of obsession. Unlike her, I want my passion to support me in reaching my goal, but not lead me there. Passion is an active ingredient in reaching a goal, but too much of it will only cause devastation.