I had an operation a few months ago. It was my first real medical adventure (and hopefully my last) and I was very very lucky. I had a complicated hernia, which had developed over the past 18 months, and it finally got sorted out by a brilliant and caring surgeon. I spent 4 days in hospital and had time to think about life, and purpose.
Purpose is a word I have embraced intensely for most of my working life. My doctor’s purpose was very clear: he had to fix me. And he did.
I am relieved the worst is over now, and hopefully soon I will be fully recovered. I am extremely grateful to this doctor – it was the first time in my life that I was truly scared.
This doctor, a gastro-surgeon, has such a hectic schedule from what I can see. I doubt I would ever have the privilege to spend more time with him, and get to know him better. And yet, for me, in this challenging time of my life, he played such an important role. This got me thinking: is purpose the same thing as importance.
This doctor’s purpose is clear. He helps people medically. He fixes them. To me, and to the others he is helping, it is important. But what about other people who play different roles in our lives. Is their purpose also important?
I don’t often get a cold or the flu. When I do, I go and see our family GP and he sometimes he may prescribe antibiotics. And yes, we are happy when the flu goes away, and of course, we are grateful to the family doctor for helping to get us better. But the stakes are not as high compared to going in for an intense operation in a hospital. And for this reason I am wondering about purpose and importance. Perhaps I am just emotional, because it was a nerve wrecking experience, and perhaps a few more months from now I won’t think about it much more.
Do we have to be on the edge, in a life threatening situation to understand purpose, and its importance, or, are we simply all too busy in this fast paced world, to recognize and celebrate all those around us who have had a purpose in our lives. Like a school teacher, for example. Or a plumber, in that time of emergency. Or an IT support guy, that helps you, when you are on a deadline, and gremlins come give you grey hairs.
In my hospital ward, I shared a room with a young man who was a teacher. And I started thinking about teachers, and how they play an important role in shaping our views on the world. An inspired teacher could encourage us to be brave and bold, and that could lead to magic in the world. I have had people believe in me in my life, some teachers, some mentors, some friends, some family, and this has all helped me to do what I do. Yes, sometimes I fail, and sometimes I succeed. Their belief in me, and their guidance, often gives me additional strength and confidence.
A doctor’s purpose is indeed important, especially when your life is on the line. But what about the soul? Living like a zombie is not what life is about. Our souls are often in crises, when we are feeling down and can’t see the wood from the trees. Sometimes it is just exhaustion and other times we need some inspiration. Or a confidence booster. Or simply, some help. Whatever the reasons for our struggle, there are other crises that may not threaten our physical life, but can be pounding away at our soul.
Have you ever just had a night out with some friends and gone “Now that was good for the soul. Just what the doctor ordered.” Exactly.
I am extremely grateful to the surgeon who recently fixed me up. And I am also grateful to all of those in my life who have inspired me to grow, and for those who have believed in me.
“I’ve been around, ya know? There was a time I could see. And I have seen. Boys like these, younger than these. Their arms torn out, their legs ripped off. But there is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There’s no prosthetic for that.“ – Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman)